Editorial: Four Places To Base Pokemon Regions On.
Rumours are abound that a new Pokemon game is due to be announced - I should know, I've been abounding some of them - and while the evidence for that is flimsy (but we can hope), that's not going to stop us from speculating on some places in the real world that would make a good basis for regions.
After all, even if there isn't a new Pokemon game this year, there will be one eventually, so here are four places that I think would make excellent real-world counterparts to Pokemon regions.
The UK is a small nation, but a culturally diverse one, with four countries with their own distinctive histories and seven distinctive cultural groups spread out among them, before you even get down to subdivisions within those cultural groups, or the UK's thriving immigrant community. All of which would make for interesting fare for a Pokemon game.
Add to that that you'd have a relatively diverse range of landscapes - from the mountainous Highlands to the flat and wet Fens - and that means both interesting environments to pass through and opportunities for a very wide span of new Pokemon.
Not to mention, the gym types practically choose themselves. Wales? Dragon-type or Rock-type. Scotland? Fairy-type in the Lowlands, Ground-type or Ice-type in the Highlands. England? Fire-type and Grass-type. Northern Ireland? Water-type. Simple.
Hong Kong is one of the largest and busiest cities in the world, a thriving metropolis with a fascinating history, so any game set in Hong Kong would, inevitably, be mostly city. It'd be an interesting new direction for the Pokemon series, as the focus would, at least for one game, shift from forging your way through the wilderness to reach a disparate set of towns, and more towards navigating a bustling urban landscape, with a more open world-y twist.
But Pokemon, while formulaic, has never been afraid of new things so much as it has been content with what it has, so while such a thing would never become the norm for the series, for a single game it might make an interesting experiment for Nintendo. It's not as if Pokemon will ever not be blisteringly successful, after all.
Most of Japan has been included in the Pokemon games by now, but somehow not the Ryukyu Islands, the volcanic island chain that is home to Okinawa (the Sevii Islands, while similar, are clearly not meant to be the Ryukyu Islands).
But there's a lot of interesting mileage in Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands as a setting - the Ryukyuan people see themselves as Ryukyuan's first and Japanese second, and have their own distinct culture and religious practices; the islands are heavily occupied by an invasive and very often violent US military force; and the islands have a thriving tourist industry, resulting in a sometimes harmonious but often volatile cocktail of cultures.
Since it's a chain of island, travel by ferry could be a large part of this region, with the mid-late game ability of surf opening the world up. New Pokemon could be drawn from both the region's mythological iconography and from the region's wildlife.
Louisiana is certainly one of the more interesting parts of the US, and one of the culturally richest. French (or Kalosi, one supposes) elements meet Spanish, Native American and African cultural elements in Louisiana's urban landscapes, which would make for a wonderfully diverse and unique region for a Pokemon game.
Like the UK, Louisiana boasts a relatively wide array of landscapes, and like Ryukyu, the Surf HM would open up the game world somewhat. It also has a lot of distinctive wildlife and plantlife, which is ripe with opportunities for new Pokemon. An ibis pokemon, maybe. An orchid pokemon with several different evolutions.
It'd also be a lot more distinctive than Pokemon's last foray into America, which I would have struggled to tell you was even anywhere in the real world if somebody hadn't told me.