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What's In A Name, or Please Pick One


After this weekend’s announcement of Pokémon White 2 and Black 2, I found myself a little upset. Pokémon’s had a long-standing tradition of making two games, of opposite colours, followed by a third title (usually about a year later) expanding on the same universe (setting) slightly and providing a third colour option of some kind. Throwing a “2” on a Pokémon title all the sudden felt a little bit broken/lazy to me, but then I thought about it a little more, and really… why does it matter? Plenty of large franchises have been playing the numbers game, and honestly I like the simplicity of it. So it just that they decided to change, and what’s in a name?

For this week’s opinion piece/rant, I decided to work backwards a little from the recent Pokémon announcement, and discuss a little about naming conventions, specifically to do with sequels.

There is no rule regarding naming of games that the industry would coin as ‘standard.’ Obviously where sequels are concerned the most popular choice has always been to slap a number at the end of the game title. It’s a system that’s tried and true, and allows for ‘spin-off’ titles to be the ones with the subtitles (Pokémon Snap or Rangers in example). The interesting part for me, as someone that also spends a lot of time with movies, I’ve always thought that numbers were lazy. Movies have a tendency to provide subtitles rather than numbers, and it’s always seemed cleaner to me. While it might make organizing your collection a little more wonky-looking, I love the concept of titles being “text only.”

For the longest time, each made sense to me in its own way, but I think that’s because I never stopped to question it because they seemed split, each was doing its own thing and that was fine. When Pokémon suddenly decided “let’s do both” it broke the rule-set, and now I don’t know what to think.

Look, I understand that being upset about titling conventions is silly. As long as the game play is awesome, the stories remain strong, and we have fun with the game it doesn’t really matter what it’s called. I get that. The problem I have though is that games with long tails (your Pokémons, your Final Fantasies, etc.) are getting rather confusing. The longer these games go on, the harder it is for the developers to keep up with the original naming conventions. I’m sure when they started making Pokémon (or, I guess the even more obvious example would be FINAL Fantasy) they didn’t think they’d run out of colours before they ran out of games… and with “Black” and “White” being the most recent incarnations, it’s a situation where you’d pretty much be moving to all kinds of wonky shades of colours from the cataloged at your local Home Depot.

Having said that, I think I’d have been more interested in Pokémon Beige and Taupe rather than “Black 2” if I’m being honest. Maybe it’s the bad-taste still remaining in my mouth from the time when Final Fantasy started to make sequels to sequels (X-2 and the like). But spinning off a sequel to an established line of games where it’s always a new “world” and “character” with a new color scheme, suddenly slapping on a “2” feels all kinds of wrong… and it might not make sense to the majority, but it won’t sit with me right. I’ll still play the games; don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the number being slapped on there all the sudden has almost completely sapped my enthusiasm for the new release.

Am I the only one that loses interest in franchises when they pull this crap, or is anyone (other than 10 year olds and myself) still even getting excited about Pokémon announcements at all anymore?