For the past 20 years or so, Pokémon fans have gotten used to a formula for mainstream games. A paired version would release with a handheld console, followed by a “special” version of that generation. When a new console comes out, a new generation would arrive, up to and including the 7th generation currently anticipating its “special” version releases (UltraSun and UltraMoon) later this year.
Of course, there have been home console games, including Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64 on up through games on the Wii and Wii U. But there has never been a “true” Pokémon RPG on a home console—but that’s about to change.
What We Know
Tsunekazu Ishihara, president of The Pokémon Company, has gone on record to state that an RPG Pokémon title is in development for the Nintendo Switch. We know that the release will not be until at least next year, as no official release date has been revealed.
We also don’t know what gameplay will be like or how it will interact with main series games. Fans were somewhat disappointed to learn that Pokémon UltraSun and UltraMoon (the latest main series titles) will be exclusively on the 3DS, rather than the Switch. However, we also know that the 3DS and Switch can communicate with each other, which may set a precedent for future interactions.
Other than those sparse introductory details, we don’t know much about what this new type of Pokémon game will hold—but we do know what we’d love to see.
What We’re Hoping For
These are just some of the features we’d love to see in a Nintendo Switch Pokémon game:
1. A “Breath of the Wild-like” UI for the switch.
The UI of Pokémon games has undergone a slow, but steady evolution, stepping up graphics, accommodating double screens, and incorporating elements like 3D, but for the most part, the interface has been the same. You’re still relying on a top-down over-world layout, the same types of menus, and similar interactive features designed with handheld players in mind. If we’re going to have a game on the Switch, it should be custom-made for the Switch. Even though it’s a “main series” Pokémon game, it should introduce some drastic changes to the typical Pokémon game’s UI. We hope the UI is similar to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, with the camera behind the protagonist, rather than the traditional top-down view.
2. Multiple device interactions.
The Nintendo Switch can communicate with the 3DS, so it should take advantage of this feature for the latest Pokémon game. Any application here could be powerful; perhaps you can walk around with your Pokémon, similar to the Pokewalker’s functionality in generation 4, or perhaps you can unlock bonus content based on Pokémon games you have loaded in your 3DS.
3. A challenge for veteran players.
Recent games in the mainstream Pokémon franchise have gotten criticism for being too easy, especially for older and veteran players. Newer games feature extended tutorials and walkthroughs, as well as shortcuts for novice players to make battling simpler. In addition, new items like the Exp share have made it possible to level up faster, with less time and less strategy necessary to improve yourself in the game. A main series title on a home console should have more difficulty options, better AI, or at least some way for experienced players to be challenged by the game, rather than waltzing their way through it.
4. Multiple regions in-game.
Fans were crazy about the second generation of Pokémon games, Gold and Silver, in part because they allowed players to complete an entirely new region of gym leaders, then travel back to the original (generation 1) region for a separate set of gym badges. However, this generation is the exception; every other generation only has one region to explore. This is mostly due to limitations in data storage—a hallmark of handheld console games. With a home console game, the potential for multiple regions could return. Could players explore a new region, then travel to past favorites like Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh? We certainly hope so.
5. Better online interactions.
This one is a given, and something Pokémon players have been anticipating for a long time. Currently, handheld players are limited in the online interactions they can have with other players, occasionally battling and trading with strangers, but not much else. A home console game could introduce a variety of new features (and more intuitive interactions overall), including co-operative modes and Pokedex sharing to unlock new content or find new Pokémon together. If Pokémon Go taught us anything, it’s that there’s real power in the Pokémon community.
Are these too much to hope for? Are we setting our sights too low? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we have UltraSun and UltraMoon to look forward to, as well as the spin-off Pokken Tournament DX on the Switch and of course, the year-old Pokémon Go. It’s a good time to be a Pokémon fan.