“This game is great, but if it also did this other thing it’d be so much better.”

Have you ever thought that to yourself? I have. Numerous times. It happened a lot more when I was younger. My imagination would run wild with possibilities for how to make some of my favourite games even more enjoyable than they already were. I’d spend hours recording my ideas in my old notebooks, or even drawing up concepts for how it’d look.

Funnily enough, I wasn’t the only person that had these ideas. In a number of cases, the additions were so obvious that the developers put them into future releases. Turns out anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together could envision the same ideas as an overly enthusiastic child.

Regardless, join me on a trip down memory lane. Today I’d like to look at two different ideas I had for games before they were actually implemented.

Besides, I need an easy topic to build some blogging momentum, and this seemed fun.

Full Character Customization in Animal Crossing

Lesser known fact: I really enjoyed playing Animal Crossing growing up. The summer of 2006 was spent playing endless hours of Animal Crossing: Wild World on my Nintendo DS. That game, in particular, will always be a favourite of mine as I spent a lot of time toiling away in it.

Anyway, one of the big things that bugged me about the earlier Animal Crossing titles was how little character customization there was. I mean, have most of you seen the original games? The male character had horns, and the women characters were forced to wear cone hats. It was certainly iconic, but not for the right reasons.

Exploring the original Nooks Cranny in Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube.

Wild World offered a small step forward in regard to customization. Eventually, players would unlock a salon where they could change their character’s hairstyle. This was a notable improvement over the first title where hairstyles weren’t even a thing.

Unfortunately, Wild World still left a lot to be desired. The game still made you answer a questionnaire at the start which determined your character’s facial appearance, and there was no way to change your skin tone, nor your eye colour. I can’t speak for everyone, but this really bugged me. Having to reroll repeatedly until I liked the look of my character was really annoying, and this felt especially dated compared to The Sims 2 which released at a similar time featuring far more robust character creation.

As a result, I envisioned a sort of hybrid between the Animal Crossing games I loved, and what every other game seemed to be offering. There would be a system whereby you could choose your character’s skin tone, eye style and colour, along with their default expression. You’d also be allowed to choose your default hairstyle, and colour rather than having to wait for the game to unlock this feature for you.

Digging up a tree in Animal Crossing New Horizons.

I don’t have my concept sketches for any of this – I lost them in one of the moves I’ve done in my adult life. Still – it doesn’t take much imagination to envision a system like this existing in a life sim game like Animal Crossing, which is probably why it was eventually added. What’s truly bewildering though, is how long it took for full character customization to make an appearance. Eye style, and colour selection were added in 2012’s New Leaf, and you couldn’t change your skin tone manually until 2020’s New Horizons. That’s…frankly pretty deplorable, but at least Nintendo finally caught up with the rest of the industry, 15 years after the fact.

An Evolution for Magneton

Much like full character customization in Animal Crossing, adding new evolutions to existing Pokémon is a no brainer. What I still find incredibly funny is that I managed to select one of the few critters that was blessed with a third stage. Developer GameFreak seems to choose which Pokémon they’ll give new evolutions to at random, but somehow the stars aligned, and I predicted Magneton would have an evolution prior to said creature being introduced in the generation 4 games.

Now, what I actually envisioned and what we got are totally different. I believe I came up with this concept when I was 10 shortly after playing through the generation 3 games. I don’t have the original sketch for this either, but here’s a rough approximation I drew with my tablet:

A coloured sketch of a possible Magneton evolution that I came up with when I was 10.

Basically, it’s just more Magnemites connected to an existing Magneton. It made sense at the time – Magneton is already 3 connected Magnemites, and the newly introduced Metagross was just 4 Beldums stuck into a metal body. Surely if they were going to introduce a new evolution to Magneton it’d be yet more Magnemites stuck into some kind of humanoid figure right?

Editor Notes: I did the render after writing this, and can’t stop laughing at how fucking creepy it looks. What really does it for me is the volume of eyes. I get that each Magnemite has an eye, but this looks like some bullshit out of a Tool music video, and I’m presently dying.

For the benefit of the 3 people reading my blog that don’t know anything about Pokémon, this is what Magneton’s eventual evolution (Magnezone) actually looked like:

Magnezone, Magneton's actual evolution.

Pretty darn different, but equally lame if you ask me. I still think it’s wild that Magneton actually got an evolution. It was one of several critters that would get this treatment, and I honestly can’t say I like many of those new designs. Some people did though, so more power to those folks I suppose.

As a bonus, this was around the time when I made a Pokémon called Bulbit. I don’t have the original sketch, but found some notes on it. Here’s another render from memory, though I think if I had found the original artwork this one would have been a lot more endearing.

Sketch of a cute lightbulb Pokémon I came up with around the same time as Magneton's evolution: Bulbit.

Anyway, thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me. Were there any times where you also came up with ideas before they appeared in a series? Did you similarly nerd out about it? Perhaps you didn’t lose your old concept sketches like I did? Let me know in the comments.