Rumor has it Nintendo will be unveiling a Pokémon Direct before the end of May. The reason they are doing this is for my birthday. Thanks Nintendo for the great gift! I promise I will share it with fans.
If true, Pokémon fans should be in for an exciting lead up to E3 this year. What are the rumors and what would it mean for Pokémon fans? Let us sort it out and see how likely each one is.
Pokémon for Switch will be Released in 2018
This rumor affects several other rumors to come. It was not long ago that a core Pokémon game was questionable for the Switch. Developers were hesitant to the point of dismissive on the subject. Then E3 2017 there comes a big surprise announcement of a core game finally coming to a Nintendo console. Was this announcement planned all along? If we believe the original statements from developers then this announcement was a change of plan. The focus for the developers of Pokémon games, Game Freak, was always portable gaming. Every core game had been on Nintendo’s handhelds. The change likely occurred when Nintendo decided internally to not release another handheld. With phones taking over the market, Nintendo has moved to the hybrid console/tablet game device. Game Freak and the Pokémon Company probably realized that if they are to continue to develop core Pokémon games and not simply spin-off, then they would have to begin developing for the Switch. If this is correct, development time has been shorter than normal for a 2018 release. The other rumors could address how that would be possible.
Pokémon Switch is a remake of Pokémon Yellow
Developing a game from the ground up takes years. There are ways to cut down the development cycle and this rumor would address just that. The Pokémon Company CEO has been on record stating that he thought Switch would be a failure. Before E3 2017, The Pokémon Company CEO told a Japanese website Toyokeizai Online, that the company would need to change its approach if they were going to bring any core Pokémon titles to Switch. This implies that the company is still considering if, and what form, a core game would look like on Switch. If no Pokémon Switch game was underdevelopment at the release of Switch, as Pokémon Company CEO’s comments hint, then a 2018 release date with the 8th generation of Pokémon, a new graphics engine, new story, would be difficult if not impossible. If the game were an updated remake of a previous game, they could use that as a template and go forward.
In the broader Pokemon ecosystem, this move would make sense. The anime has focused on a return to Kanto recently. Ash was reunited with Brock and Misty. A game to mirror this move would connect perfectly with the nostalgia move of the show.
Switch will have the Graphical Style of Sun and Moon
Our third rumor dovetails perfectly into the previous two. If Nintendo wants a quick release, using the previously created graphics engine will also shorten development cycle. No need to create the game from scratch and building a new engine cuts development time and moves up the release date. While disappointing to fans who have dreamed of Pokémon on consoles for generations, it makes logical sense for the company and what we already know.
Pokémon Switch will interact/use Pokémon Go
This is the weird outlier of the batch of rumors. The big question is how? I find it very hard to believe that you would be able to catch Pokémon in Go and then transfer/trade them over. For many players this would give you an instant collection of all the Pokémon in Kanto and more. With a game built on collecting and grinding this seems very unlikely.
If transferring Pokémon is not going to work, then what would? Could this be an incentive to take your Switch out in public and catch Pokémon on it? Switch does not currently have GPS. Without that feature, the entire system, which Pokémon Go is built off, would cease to function. Adding it late to the Switch would mean that older versions of the console could not play/access that feature. This does not seem plausible either.
With interacting looking very unlikely, it is possible that Pokémon Switch will use some gameplay mechanic from Pokémon Go. This is not a terrible idea as hundreds of millions of people played Go and mimicking good aspects of the game could turn into a higher adoption rate for the Switch version. There are only four main areas that could be incorporated from Go: battle mechanics, catch mechanics, UI/Pokedex, and story.
Battling in Pokemon games has never been the selling point. The most interesting mechanics have come from Pokken Tournament. If Switch takes the blind tapping mechanic to into Switch, it would be a colossal mistake. At that point they would deserve a taunting fit for a so-called Arthur-king.
The only aspect that makes sense to transfer would be the catching mechanics. In Pokémon Go, players use the touch screen to spin a ball and hit the Pokémon. The way it is thrown, curve or not, and where the Pokémon is hit raises the catch rate. It turns the act of catching each Pokémon into a mini game of skill. The adoption of this mechanic would have major barriers however. The first is that Switch does not have a touch screen when docked. This would force players to be up and about when catching Pokemon and not sitting at the home console. The second issue is that it would lose the challenge of battling down Pokémon to be easier to catch. Losing this mechanic takes away one way to build up experience points for your Pokémon to grow.
The only option left would be for the Switch version to incorporate the story and characters from Go. To this we simply need to scoff at the idea that there is a story in Go and that the characters are worth translating to a console game. This would be a waste of energy.
Switch also does not have a camera so there is no point for AR like in Go. Ultimately the only possible mechanic that would be worth the effort could be the way Go catches Pokémon. They could also allow players to combine the previous mechanics in Yellow with Go to have more challenges and skill needed to catch each one. Overall though, borrowing any mechanics from Go to the Switch version seems ill conceived.
The Name is Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee
The last bit of rumors is the name of Pokémon Switch. The titles appear to be Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee. There are many things to support this rumor, including pictures and developer hints on twitter. If this is a core Pokémon game, as it has been billed, the title feels off. These titles do follow the double release style. Leaving “Pokémon” out of the title all together feels more like spin-off game rather than a core title.
So You are Telling Me There is a Chance
All of these rumors feel very plausible. The quick release forces a rapid development. This lends credibility to rumors of the remake, style, and even title. When talking about a new core game for Pokemon on Switch though this was not what fans imagined. I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably all true, with the exception of including/interacting with PokemonGo.
Here is my prediction though. I think that Game Freak and the Pokémon Company will release a remake of Yellow this year on the Switch. In the background, I do think they are working on the 8th generation of Pokémon that will release in two years, 2020. This current title is to test out the dynamics of the Switch and the market on the console. With two years under their belt, we will get a graphical overhaul and a new title. Unfortunately, it will still not look like Breath of the Wild, but will be an improvement for the series. Essentially, what I am getting at is that I do not think this game is the core title that they originally announced, but a placeholder and test for the market.
What do you think of the rumors? Any I missed? What are you hoping for from Pokémon on the Switch? Let me know in the comments below.