I just started a new playthrough of Pokemon Leafgreen– the last Pokemon game I had played through was Ruby, so I thought I’d ease back into playing these games with this one. It’s both a continuation of the series and a game I’m intimately familiar with– it is a remake of the first generation of Pokemon games.

One thing that struck me very quickly was how poorly designed the Pokedex was in terms of user experience. Unless you’re part of Twitch playing Pokemon, there is hardly any reason to consult the Pokedex beyond looking at your catch and seen counts. The Pokedex has improved since the first generation– there is now at a glance type information, clear thumbnails of each Pokemon, and different categories, but it is still largely unhelpful for many potential use cases. I often find myself creating spreadsheets or looking for web applications to meet my needs.

Roughly, here is a persona for a potential Pokedex User:

Red is a 10 year old boy from Pallet Town, who is on a quest to become a Pokemon Master. He would like to learn more about the Pokemon he has seen or caught, and could use some help on his journey to catch ‘em all. He is quite adept at using technology, regularly using his computer to store and withdraw his Pokemon and items.

The Pokedex is reasonably helpful for Red to discover facts about his Pokemon, but, particularly in Firered and Leafgreen, it falls short as a reference for catching Pokemon. Some features that would help include:

  • Searching by name. This is a feature that was removed in FR/LG, for reasons unknown. Consequentially, the only way to find a Pokemon is to look through many pages, particularly if you do not know its local habitat.
  • Filtering by Caught / Uncaught status. If I’d like to know more about the Pokemon I own, there would be a lot less friction if I didn’t have to scroll through entries that are incomplete, and vice versa.
  • Viewing Pokemon by Location Found. Apparently a feature added in B2/W2 and then removed for no apparent reason, this would be a boon for completionists, allowing a trainer to view at a glance whether they’ve caught all the Pokemon in an area.
  • Custom lists. In attempting to complete the Kanto Pokedex, I find myself making lists of Pokemon I intend to catch in the wild, Pokemon I need to remember to trade, and Pokemon I need to remember to train. It would be handy if this was a feature facilitated in the game rather than Google Documents I’ve created.

If I were a Pokedex designer, I would want to conduct user studies, (If Professor Oak wanted us to test the devices, why didn’t he ask us for our thoughts on them?) write up task analyses, and create storyboards for an improved interface. On the other hand, if I were in the Pokemon universe, I’d probably forget about all of that, and just try to catch them all myself.