Written by Jonathan Wojcik with the aid of With the Will, Digimon Wiki and Wikimon


Digimon video games are an ecclectic bunch. Unlike Pokemon, they change up their format and gameplay enough that there's never been one "core" or standardized digimon series for very long, and whenever there has been, I've found it to be pretty lacking in one department or another. So, as someone who definitely keeps up with Pokemon and continues to find it enjoyable, let me take a moment here to talk about what I actually wish could be done in the "perfect" Digimon video game, if the franchise only had quite the level of success and support as its long-time Nintendo rival...

The Obvious First: Include EVERYTHING.

The great thing about Pokemon is its policy of leaving no mon behind. Every single thing that has ever been considered a Pokemon is obtainable, one way or another, in every single new set of core games. Perhaps this is a pretty tall order for Digimon, but most of them by now have CG models they've already been reusing for a few years, and truthfully, they don't have all that many left except for the weird stuff. Why shouldn't we even be able to capture and train pieces of the D-Reaper?

Maybe Digimon's crew doesn't think certain monsters are "popular" enough to be worth that effort, but the more monsters, the more gameplay variety. Somebody out there is sure to love Trailmon Ball more than any other digimon, and plenty of players might find out how much they love it once they see it beating up on other monsters in high-resolution 3-d.

Give Them Fun Abilities

I know that I keep making Pokemon comparisons and maybe that's already getting a bit old, but hop on over to my list of favorite pokemon battle moves a second for a reminder of just how novel a battle mechanic can get. In my experience, digimon games don't stray very far outside the conventional array of damaging attacks and status moves, which is a crying shame for digital monsters in a digital world. They should be capable of all sorts of wild tricks and hacks! Pokemon can change the weather, change the terrain, eat dreams, turn their hit points into dummies, infest their opponents with parasitic vines and perform countless other maneuvers with distinct and exciting gameplay effects. Digimon and the world around them are supposedly made entirely of computer code, and there should be no limit to the strange ways they can defend themselves, even completely breaking the reality they inhabit.

Introduce Deeper Customization

Now for something you can't do with a Bulbasaur; some sort of "class" or "job" system is central to the RPG genre, yet rarely integrated with a monster-training game, and I think it would be a perfect fit for digimon. Yes, a digimon might already be a ninja, a swordsman, a gunslinger, a mage or a cleric according to its "species," but I think it could add a lot of fun and variety if every species had 3-5 more specialized career options that add their own abilities, stat bonuses and elemental properties. Obviously a Wizardmon isn't going to make a good barbarian or wrestler, but could specialize in one of several possible spellcaster classes. Each class could also have at least one ability unique to whether the digimon is Data, Virus or Vaccine, and some stranger classes might be exclusive to the more out-there digimon; there's obviously gotta be some kind of Sewer Mage or Trash Fighter class that gives the failures a big boost, and the various puppet digimon could have access to a mimicry-based class. A world of electronic battle monster pals should be all about the ability to augment your creatures - to really make them feel like your own.

Make Every Digimon Valid

As I'm sure you know, I am not a fan of insurmountable power disparity in any monster setting, and especially not a fan of how obligatory the "Ultimate" stage has become in the world of Digimon. Ultimates were originally intended to be fairly rare and special, but by now, they've become so essential that virtually every other digimon may as well be nothing but a throwaway stepping stone on the path to another SuperAngewhatsit.

Digimon World: Dawn and Dusk actually had a nugget of a solution to this, wherein every digimon could retain some of its stats when it de-evolved back to an earlier stage. By cycling through its evolutionary forms enough times, a devoted enough player could bulk up even a level one baby to deal as much damage as a level 100 Ultimate. Unfortunately, the obsessive enough player could also just keep doing this until every single stat reached the same absurd maximum of 999, which is just...boring.

Let's be more reasonable, here: as with Pokemon, different digimon should have some permanent limits on their stat distribution to keep them strategically varied, focusing more or less on speed, defense, offense, health or mind points, but the grand total of a digimon's stats should still be trainable, with enough special effort, to the equivalent of a fully evolved Sovereign or Demon Lord.


...No More "Fixed" Evolution Levels at all?

Now, hear me out here. The Xros Wars series already experimented with a setting in which digimon weren't explicitly categorized under the Baby to Ultimate system, and I really like that, but I also like the sheer fun of fitting digimon together into coherent six-stage evolutionary lines, so how about a middle ground? Here's what I'm getting at:

Do you recall the fact that Whamon has been both an Adult stage and Perfect stage in different incarnations? What if a Digimon could actually "upgrade" along the classic evolutionary levels without changing species? Every level would still unlock a slew of evolutionary options, like it always has, and some digimon would still be limited to certain stages and up, of course; Agumon would continue to only exist at child level or higher, and Wargreymon would still only ever be an Ultimate form. If you happen to like Agumon more than Wargreymon, however, then changing his form wouldn't have to be mandatory. Only his stats would change, and you could cycle him through other forms only to inherit whatever compatible abilities you want for your custom Ultimate-level Agumon.

This would result in a digimon game with a much richer variety of evolutionary paths, the same digimon serving as different possible stages wherever it makes sense to do so. Obviously Numemon should still be a failed "adult" form for several digimon, but doesn't the little slug make equal sense as a child stage, too? Shouldn't Shellnumemon exist as a possible upgrade to shell-less Numemon? And Doesn't Warumonzaemon work equally well as either an "alternate" Monzaemon or a "further evolved" Monzaemon? Sure, this chart looks kind of confusing, but this sytem is really pretty simple when you get right down to it. Every digimon just gets five "upgrades," and at every upgrade it can choose to take one of the new possible forms it just unlocked. That's a piece of cake! A lot of RPG games do something like that already!


This was my final team in my own copy of Digimon Dusk, and it's great that the game allowed me to bring these trashy sleazebags up to roughly equal stats, sure, but those stats were so similar and their attacks so simplistic that it ultimately didn't even feel like my personal preferences and choices ever mattered. I realize that a lot of what I've described on this page is just how any basic tabletop role-playing game works, but that's exactly it: nothing would be more fun than personalizing any given digimon into an original adventuring character, with enough limitation to encourage some strategic creativity, and pitting that original character against somebody else's original character over wi-fi. Granted, it should still be a little more likely to win when you're playing an Apocalymon against somebody's Chuumon, but it still shouldn't be a guarantee...because maybe that Chuumon has already been an Apocalymon once, before it decided to de-evolve down to a rodent, claw its way back up to Ultimate level, and train the whole while as a stealth assassin?