According to industry ‘insiders’ Nintendo’s NX will see a new Mario and Pokémon game within six months of its touted March 2017 release date. As with all rumours, this one is best taken with a pinch of salt, but both a new Mario and Pokémon game are reasonable expectations within the NX’s launch window. Both are very popular franchises for Nintendo, so one must assume that the console (whatever it may be) will get at least one new game from each of the series. I wonder what they could both be when they do come.
The Pokémon franchise has never seen the same level of success on Nintendo’s home consoles as it has on their handhelds. The RPGs the series is famous for have never really made their way over to our living room or bedroom televisions. This hasn’t stopped the juggernaut franchise from appearing on home consoles. Spin offs are plentiful on home consoles, with the most recent being the fantastic Pokkén Tournament. There is clearly an appetite for Pokémon on our TV screens too, with the aforementioned Pokkén Tournament outselling Street Fighter V at retail.
Some of the Pokémon games available on home console even established themselves as fan favourites in the series, such as Pokémon Snap and the Pokémon Stadium games on the N64. What people have always wanted however, is for the Pokémon RPGs to make their way onto home consoles. The Gamecube did receive two Pokémon RPGs. Pokémon Colosseum and its sequel, Pokémon XD: Gale Of Darkness both found their way onto Nintendo’s Purple Cube. We finally got what we thought were proper Pokémon adventures on home console, only to find that both games altered and diluted the core Pokémon experience.
Whilst a true, proper home console Pokémon RPG would undoubtedly shift millions of copies, Nintendo remain adamant that we will only see the core games released on handheld consoles. Series director Junichi Masuda explains that ‘the reason [they] put Pokémon on the handheld systems is that a handheld system allows’ you to ‘play at your own pace at home, but… also go out and meet with other people’. He further explains that ‘the power of Pokémon is the power of communication. Pokémon brings people together’. Whilst I appreciate what Masuda says, there is no denying how popular a big-screen Pokémon adventure would be, especially in the wake of mobile sensation Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sun & Moon. With the ever-increasing amount of online integration in modern gaming too, connectivity is no longer much of an issue. You don’t meet in person online, sure, but you can battle, trade and interact in many other ways.
If Nintendo and The Pokémon Company could find a way to successfully bring together the benefits of the handheld and home console then a Pokémon RPG could be making its way to a TV near you. If rumours are to be believed, the NX will be a handheld-home console hybrid. Oh, hello multi-million selling big, shiny, exciting Pokémon home console RPG that can be taken on the go as well. If the NX were to have a new, proper Pokémon adventure within its first six months, people will flock to the machine like they did to Pokémon Go. An HD port of Sun & Moon could act as a stepping stone to playing Pokémon on TV, but it wouldn’t break sales records like a totally new one could.
Honestly, I don’t see Nintendo releasing a proper home console Pokémon game any time soon, for the same reasons they gave above. I’m not sure about the rumours that the NX is a hybrid console, either, but I’m willing to be proved wrong on that one. If the rumour of a Pokémon game launching within the NX’s launch window is true, I think we’re going to be seeing an updated port of Pokkén Tournament. The game sold well, but saw limited success thanks to the poor sales of the Wii U. Nintendo would be wise to re-introduce the mass market to its madcap, Namco developed fighter.
It’s impressive sales figures already show that the game does have appeal, but on what many are considering will be a clean-slate machine for Nintendo, the game could truly shine. With surely some more power under the hood too, an NX port of the game would be ace. The Wii U version of Pokkén Tournament suffered from a low native resolution, blurring out otherwise very detailed character models. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but seeing Pokkén Tournament at 1080p-60fps would be awesome, giving the game a new lease of life. Another issue with the game was its lack of characters.
Since Pokkén Tournament’s release, developers have added Darkrai to the arcade version of the game. There’s no word on whether the fighter will make its way onto the Wii U edition, but a potential NX port could see the ghost added along with any other potential newcomers. If this were to happen, I wouldn’t expect many new characters, as the game will likely receive a sequel at some point, but one or two new additions would give fans of the original version of the game something a reason to buy it again. Think something like Super Street Fighter IV over the original incarnation.
Any Pokémon game on the NX would be popular, helping the console in its early days to find some success, given the world’s current state of Pokémania. I wouldn’t expect anything too revolutionary however. An updated port of Pokkén Tournament, taking advantage of the extra horsepower and adding a few extra features could serve as a solid launch window game, setting us up nicely for a sequel within the next two or three years. We’d all like a proper home console Pokémon RPG, but I just don’t see it happening unless the rumours about what the NX is are true, and even then, wouldn’t it essentially be a new handheld that you can plug into a TV?