There are many possible artistic what-ifs, that although far less consequential than historical ones, can still have an effect on the genre in question. Here’s a few for Pokemon.
-No Pikachu. Or rather, no famous Pikachu. In the actual Pokemon Red/Blue, Pikachu is just an out-of-the-way Pokemon in the Viridian Forest that you have a good chance of missing altogether. In the anime, it became Ash’s starter, and the rest is history. Pikachu was a way to avoid being biased in favor of any of the game’s three ‘real’ starters.
If they had picked one, it may have led to the series being ever-so-slightly less successful-Pikachu is photogenic and “cute” in a cross-cultural way that the three real starters kinda-aren’t. In the fandom, you’d have people who picked one starter have that sweet and all-too-rare feeling of canon vindication.
(If you wanted to be mean, make it Charmander, then watch as the kids wanting to follow Ash meet the wall of the Pewter Gym).
-Pokemon games follow Gold/Silver’s precedent of multiple regions.
In Pokemon Gold/Silver, you could go back to the region of Red/Blue. This was messily implemented, as it stretched the Gameboy’s abilities to their limits, but it was still sixteen gyms rather than the usual eight. From Ruby/Sapphire on, it was the cash-Miltank of new region, eight gyms. There’s a part of me that hopes that following GS’s lead would lead to a more interesting or non-linear setting, but there’s another part that thinks it would just spread the game too thin.
-Cinnabar Island shenanigans.
All it would take is a few tiles in the east of Cinnabar Island changed, and you lose your greatest ability to
munchkin rare candies break Pokemon Red/Blue. That would make one lose out on a cheat/bug, but little more. A more interesting difference in quality control would be to remove the ability to skip the Seafoam Islands by just flying back to Pallet Town and surfing down.
In the actual game, you can skip one of the hardest maps easily.
What would the trade-off be? Better maps, worse Pokemon?
I love weird stuff like this.