Happiness, another overlooked game mechanic, is much underestimated. It has the potential for Normal-type moves to reach a maximum of 105 power. But before all this, I will explain happiness. Each Pokemon starts out with base happiness, which is expressed by a number. By completing various tasks, like battling with it, leveling it up, etc. its happiness will increase. Wild Pokemon usually have a base happiness (>0), but legends do not (0). Starting from 0, the maximum happiness stat can be 255, much like a maximized stat in Effort Values (EVs).
There are various ways to get happiness increased everyday. In HeartGold and SoulSilver, there was a person who would groom your Pokemon for a few hundred Poke Dollars. (Based on the day, there would be a barber, or his brother, which was a little less skilled.) The Soothe Bell makes Pokemon friendlier, but you have to perform at least one of the actions mentioned above, since this item increases the happiness received out of the action. One thing I never realized is how herbs decrease happiness. In Pokemon Coliseum, I never bought regular Potions; I would always get herbs, since the Revival Herb is like a Max Revive, but not as rare. These items decreased Pokemon’s happiness, regardless of the fact that they were cheap and effective. This is not a negative thing, though; one can utilize the move Frustration and maximize damage by only giving your Pokemon herbs.
The same proves true for Return: by keeping your Pokemon happy, you can maximize the damage done by this move. Unrealistically, battle simulators keep the happiness at either 0 or 255, which can not be true, since fainting slightly decreases happiness, and giving items that aren’t herbs increases happiness. Each game features someone who will tell you your Pokemon’s happiness level; in the Pokemon Black and White versions, it is in the Pokemon Fan Club in Icirrus City. Although happiness has no influence on whether or not a Pokemon will listen to you, it will demonstrate the bonds shown between you and the Pokemon in battle, especially against the Elite Four. The members of the Elite Four say that they test you and your Pokemon’s friendship, which is definitely true, since you must rely on their moves, as well as luck (i.e. critical hits) to advance through the Elite Four.
In real life, Pokemon that are unhappy tend to ignore their trainer, but as of now, games don’t do that. It would be a real nice thing if they did, because friendship is another great responsibility we should all learn. If Pokemon did exist, it would be such an important thing to keep them to close to one’s heart, as Pokemon are the life of everyone living there, and contribute to daily life, seeing as there are no animals but themselves. Happiness requires both strategy and planning to execute moves correctly, but can be rewarding if you treat them correctly. But we all know that the true reward comes from trying one’s hardest, regardless of winning or not.