Hello there, I'm a pokemon rpg noob who's searching for a way to play Pokemon the way I feel it should be played. I was hoping you kind people could help me.
My idea of a Pokemon RPG is one that focuses mainly, if not only, on trainer-pokemon relation and bond. It's something that I feel is only paid lip service to in the video games, but that is crucial in both the anime and the manga. And I love the idea that it's not the most important how strong a pokemon species is, how powerful are its moves and how good its "build" is, but how much the pokemon and the trainer understand and trust each other, how in tune they are with each other etc. With stuff like Z-moves and Mega Evolutions also depending on the bond between Pokemon and humans and with the Ash-Greninja thing I don't quite understand (coming back to Pokemon after a looong time), I feel that it's a valid approach. However, from what I understand from skimming PTU, it's more similar to the video games in that the pokemon's stats are the crucial thing, and the trainer's influence is less about sharing a bond and more about the trainer's mechanical skills and features that they can use on any appropriate pokemon, not just one they have a strong bond with. My question is - am I reading this right? And if so, then are there any RPGs you know that treat the pokemon-trainer bond as the main mechanic? I know there were some people who tried using Sorcerer to simulate that, but I'm not sure that's my cup of tea.
It is incredibly difficult to create an RPG that correlates the bond you share with a Pokemon to their power. This is because that's a very abstract thing since how one person may bond with a Pokemon may be different from another but net the same results, and so it becomes impossible to point out all the ways to bond. So unfortunately, I don't think you will ever find an RPG that has the primary focus on relationships you create with your Pokemon.
But that is not to say that you can homebrew something to make it like that. You could make it as complicated as you want it to be with well thought out rules or you can (if your the GM) just decide that anytime a Trainer spends time with their Pokemon and increases the bond they get advantage on their next X rolls (advantage is a DnD thing where you roll twice and take the better result). Giving characters advantage for good roleplaying or for clever strategies is a great way to give those suboptimal Pokemon a competitive edge over their peers and you can easily make the call on what is appropriate.
Also as a side note in case you haven't seen the Pokemon Skills, Underdog's Strength, and Realized Potential, those are great ways to level the playing field for a weaker Pokemon. And in some cases being able to more freely customize your Pokemon can make them stronger like Sunkern (See this thread: Link)