Nintendo Shift & Pokemon’s future.

The next Nintendo console has finally been revealed, but we still don’t have the full picture on the hardware and we know hardly anything about what games to expect.  As is to be expected, speculation is rife and will probably remain focused on the hardware until the consoles full unveiling on January 12th 2017. The conversation and speculation on what games we can expect has barely begun. With Pokemon Sun/Moon still due to be released at the time of writing, 4 months before the Switch’s expected release, it’s understandable hardly anyone is thinking about Pokemon’s future on The Switch.Image result for nintendo switch

As a Nintendo and Pokemon a fan it was one of my first thoughts and I think Pokemon’s future on the Switch is very exciting. The successor to Sun/Moon will be the first main Pokemon game to be a big screen (console) experience. This is a significant evolution for Pokemon because being on system far more powerful than the gameboy or any of its successors mean many new exciting possibilities for the gameplay experience are now possible for the first time.

Over the years many people have hoped and called for a ‘proper’ Pokemon that plays more like a modern RPG or even an MMO.  The Gamecube saw 2 Pokemon games that make notable leaps in that direction, but in the end they refrained from a true pokemon experience and did meet the hopes of the fans. Today with the Switch on the horizon it seems certain Pokemon will finally go all the way on a console! The impossible dream is now very possible indeed.

 

One of many fan made Pokemon games that aim to evolve the formula.

You could get carried away thinking of might in store for the Switches successor to Sun/Moon. The Switch gives Pokemon the chance to do something really big, and it could be the games of our dreams, but will it?

Let’s not get too excited…

First of all it’s important to remember Pokemon ain’t broke, so why fix it? Pokemon’s formula has not changed much and sticking to the age old formula maybe why it remains popular. Shaking up the tried and tested experience too much may be considered a bad idea.

New ideas are always tried of course but we shouldn’t expect the franchise to change too much. We may for example see Pokemon truly grow out of it’s old school top down RPG style and embrace a rich sprawling 3d world ala Breath of the Wild, but hoping the grass will go and that all the Pokemon will roam free in plain sight might be too much to hope for.

Image result for pokemon x town

Pokemon is slowly moving towards more dynamic 3D environments, but it’s baby steps.

A truly ambitious big screen Pokemon game is a mammoth undertaking, one that would easily take 3 if not several more years to make. It would cost far more than any other Pokemon game before it and such an investment might seem too much in light of conservative sales projections. The safe choice of sticking to what they know works is also the quickest & cheapest choice that’s more likely to create bigger profits.

The Pokemon company also wants to be releasing at least 1 game a year and a highly ambitious Pokemon game for the Wii U could easily mean all their resources would be dedicated to that game for the 3+ years it is in development. This is, from a business angle, a BIG reason to say no to such a complex project

Another thing to consider is that Nintendo exclusives are notorious for taking their games in unexpected directions. The insane popularity of Pokemon GO might influence future main Pokemon games in ways we don’t expect. While we talk about the obvious choice of a sprawling modern day RPG, the focus could be on portable gaming still.

Image result for pokemon GO

Pokemon GO helps to achieve a sense of a vast world to explore. Then you get ran over.

While I doubt it will heavily influence the main games, playing into Pokemon GO’s success seems certain. People clearly are willing to get out and about to play Pokemon and the Switch is clearly designed to cater to that as much as home gaming experiences. Add to this the rumours about Switch’s well planned smartphone connectivity and how Pokemon has always been a portable experience and there’s a good case to suggest Pokemon switch might shy away from the TV and not deliver a vast big screen RPG adventure at all.

Back to the more optimistic….

I personally think whatever new things happen, we will get a game where playing on a TV will be at the core of the single player experience. People play Pokemon for long sessions and unless the tablet has fantastic battery life it wouldn’t be good move to force gamers use the tablet any more than they have to.

I unreasonably hope Pokemon will take that leap into the MMORPG genre. There’s no doubt such a feat is capable on weaker technology nevermind the Switch. And even if Pokemon wouldn’t be your typical MMO, of course it can still work. Bumping into other players in a vast world and teaming up for more difficult battle quests and dungeons, or just trade or fight together seems ideal for Pokemon. It feels like perfect direction for the games to go in.

A true MMO experience, sadly, isn’t too likely. Nintendo seldom show much love for deep online gaming and a game dependant on a solid internet connection isn’t going to work well with the Switch’s ‘on the go’ option which they will no doubt want to take advantage of.

Image result for pokemon Pokemon mmo

Another fan dreaming of a console Pokemon RPG back in the Wii days.

A vast world with more online capabilities than the 3DS titles is however still a reasonable thing to hope for. Considering a game like Xenoblade Chronicles X a sort of halfway house to the true MMO, or even the upcoming Zelda game, we can see Nintendo are starting to embrace vast 3D world for their RPG’s like never before. They have to know it makes sense and would be a very popular move for Pokemon.

Such a game would surely be a killer title for the Switch and would generate more hype than Mario and Zelda combined! It seems like a no brainer to me. The Switch clearly wants to bring gamers back to Nintendo and if they want Pokemon to sell like a AAA console title, they will have to move Pokemon out of its safe little sand box and make it play with the big boys.

And so…

While it’s important to not get to carried away in wondering what Pokemon Switch might deliver, now has never been a better time to get excited and speculate about how the main Pokemon games might evolve. Even if it takes baby steps, which would suck, lets still get excited because we are almost certainly going to get the first proper Pokemon game on our TV’s!

What are your hopes for Pokemon on Nintendo Switch?

What do you think we are most likely to see?

How long will we have to wait to see it?

 

Share all and any of your thoughts below.

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