My Reaction To The Pokémon Direct

(Note: The actual Direct footage starts just after the 30-minute mark of the above video.)

Yesterday, Nintendo announced a short Pokémon Direct presentation for this morning, sending Pokéfans like yours truly into a frenzy: What would they announce? Would they focus on mainline titles, spin-off games, or mobile apps? Perhaps most importantly, what consoles would these games be appearing on? With the Nintendo Switch’s portable mode, the long-held dream of a mainline Pokémon game appearing on a “home” console seemed imminent.

Then we saw the presentation, and…well, we didn’t get much information at all, much less what people were clamoring for.

The presentation included three big announcements:

  • Pokkén Tournament will be getting the Mario Kart 8 treatment, and will be released for the Switch this September as Pokkén Tournament DX. Like Mario Kart 8 DeluxePTDX will get five new playable characters (Darkrai, Scizor, Empoleon, Croagunk, and Decidueye), but otherwise it appears to be a straightforward port of the Wii U version. While this is great news for Pokkén Tournament fans, I care about this series even less than I care about ARMS, so I wasn’t all that excited personally.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon will be getting the Pokémon Black/White treatment, with Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon announced for this November on the 3DS. Most of the negative response to this Direct stems from this announcement—more specifically, from what this announcement is not:
    • It’s not Pokémon Stars (although you could make the argument that it’s basically what Stars would have been).
    • It’s not a mainline Pokémon game for the Switch.
    • It’s not the rumored remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl that people were speculating about.

While I understand people’s disappointment at not getting to see their favorite monsters in glorious 720/1080p, I’m okay with what’s we’re getting here, especially since it’s essentially the 3rd game version that we used to get back in the early Pokémon days. I had thought that Pokémon Sun and Moon had gotten sacrificed by Nintendo as a way to bridge the Wii U/Switch gap, so it’s nice to see that the company is still sticking by the game. (My biggest concern is how well Ultra Sun and Moon work on older 3DSes, as my XL could just barely handle the original games.)

  • Finally, the original Pokémon Gold and Silver are being re-released for the 3DS Virtual Console this September, much like Pokémon Red and Blue were last year. As someone who has played Gold, HeartGold, SoulSilver, and even a bit of Crystal, I’ve had my fill of Johto for a while, so I don’t care about this at all.

In the end, there wasn’t a whole lot here to excite me: Either I’ve already experienced these games, or I didn’t have any interest in them to begin with. Still, Pokkén Tournament will help Switch owners bridge the gap between Splatoon 2 and Super Mario Odyssey, and Ultra Sun and Moon will keep the 3DS alive and well into 2018, so I suppose the presentation was a net positive for Nintendo fans. (With Sonic Mania and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle also set for release in late-summer/early-fall, I’ll probably have too many games on my plate anyway, so a lackluster Pokémon announcement doesn’t really bother me.)

One final thought: Pokémon would have been a guaranteed Switch-seller, so Nintendo leaving it on the 3DS means one of two things: A surge in confidence that the Switch can stand on its own two feet, or a fear of making the current console shortage any worse than it already is…

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