Silent Protagonist Personality - It needs more depth
by, 24th September 2013 at 12:43 AM (2926 Views)
Who's your favorite person?
◊My favorite person is Kyouhei
>◊My favorite person is FANG-TAN.
◊My favorite person is Hue.
I'll open this post by saying that I wished the main series of Pokemon games used character portraits whenever a major character is speaking to the protagonist, so we could see their facial expressions while they're talking. Sort of like the Xtransciever sprites (and what they did for N). Anyone on this forum who has played JRPGs like Etrian Odyssey or Disgaea would know what I'm talking about. I don't mind the 3D graphics in XY, but if they instead added talking character portraits, used hi-res sprites, and moved away from four-directional movement in the overworld like every other JRPG, it would have been just as much of a jump - if not more. Even if they're using 3D models this time around and kept the grid-based movement, they could have added talking character portraits to the dialogue. There's no excuse for the character designs being wasted on a bare minimum.
Aside from that, there's an aspect of the series that I feel has gotten rather outdated as an RPG: trainer personality, specifically the Player Character. I admire Pocket Monster's use of a Silent Protagonist to help the player project themselves onto Red, Haruka, or whatever, but they could aim to try a bit harder. For example, an RPG that has impressed me with the use of the Silent Protagonist is the superb Growlanser series of RPGs. Most of the games open up with a sort of personality assessment, which I guess you could call the "Are you a boy or a giiiirl?" portion of the story without the ridiculousness, that determines your character's stat and growth. This hardly applies to the Pocket Monsters games, as the monsters are the ones who do the fighting.
However, Growlanser III, in particular, has an interesting hidden "personality stat" system that begins as soon as the game starts. All Growlanser games offer multiple choices that affect the story, but in Growlanser III they also affect the canon in terms of what personality you choose to give to your protagonist, Slayne. Choices range from good, to flirtatious, to utterly rude or evil, and they affect your "personality" stats accordingly. Your choices early in the game start becoming apparent as you progress - for example, if you choose to be too "good" or "honest", you won't have sufficient stats to pick the more rude or evil responses. You could be soft-spoken, a Squall-styled ellipses spewing jackass, or an emotionally functional human being. It's your choice. And in Growlanser, the endings and relationships with your party members are affected by your choice.
This is the proper and modern way of handling a Silent Protagonist, and I feel that for Pocket Monsters, it could provide more depth for both your trainer and your relationship with your Pokemon. Coupled with Pokemon-Amie could yield AMAZING results. It seems like XY may offer something more to dialogue choices than the shallow "Yes/No" choices of generations past, much like Skyward Sword for the Legend of Zelda games (sort of-ish anyway, Link has always been given one or two funny dialogue choices), but I feel Growlanser handles it best as a role-playing game. If they're gonna let us pick and choose a personality, at least let it show in the game
(Had they done this with FireRed/LeafGreen, perhaps they could have come up with a memory system that could transfer over to HeartGold/SoulSilver, so Red, and perhaps Blue/Leaf, could actually say something in-character to the personality you imagined them having - affected by your choices in the previous games. But alas, GameFreak seems to deem Red the canon protagonist of the first generation and its remakes.)
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