Believe it or not, it’s somehow been 20 years since the Japanese release of the first Pokémon games. While audiences in the UK wouldn’t get their hands on the little critters until 1999, Japanese gamers had access to Pokémon Red and Green from February 27th 1996, and in a similar vein to all of the other gaming anniversaries we’ve been celebrating recently (we’re old), Nintendo are expected to drop something special for Pokémon fans this year. Not to disappoint, Nintendo have called a Pokémon-themed Nintendo Direct today at 3pm, and we can’t help but have a think about what they’re going to announce.
More information on Pokémon GO
Nintendo may choose to give us a bit more info on everyone’s most anticipated mobile AR game. Pokémon GO is enjoying a spell where it’s seen as the real life manifestation of those Poké-daydreams you had when you were a kid; in reality, it’s likely to not live up those fantasies, and, in this writer’s opinion, probably won’t come close to living up to that amazing first trailer, which is probably why there hasn’t been too much info regarding the game.
A key concern for Nintendo to address is how the Pokémon will be distributed across the real world. Will you need to go to the seaside to catch a Wingull, for example? Will you need to go to the Powergen headquarters to catch a Voltorb? My biggest worry is that players will end up blindly going down the wrong road in pursuit of a rare Pokémon, and then…
In any case, with the Game Developers Conference in March due to feature a talk called ‘Catch ‘Em All: Pokémon GO and Real World Gaming’, Pokémon GO is going to be a big deal this year, so some information today seems likely.
Likelihood of this happening: 8/10
Pokémon Shuffle 2
Of course, Pokémon GO would be the series’ second venture into the mobile market, following the successful Pokémon Shuffle. Nintendo’s take on Candy Crush has resulted in millions of downloads, along with millions of in-app purchases (spent over a tenner on Shuffle!!), and many fans believe that the Pokémon Nintendo Direct will be an anti-climax, expecting the Big N to announce Pokémon Shuffle 2.
This is probably quite unlikely to happen; Shuffle is still getting plenty of support with weekly special challenges and even new main levels – the potential is there for Shuffle to continue for a long time, much to the chagrin of wallets everywhere. Besides, surely Nintendo have something bigger planned for the fans that have followed the series for two decades?
Likelihood – 4/10
Pokémon Snap 2
Remember Pokémon Snap? Back when Nintendo started their business of churning out spin-offs, Pokémon Snap was an ultimately flawed but refreshing experience, where players could observe and photograph wild Pokémon for points. Snap is a concept that would translate well to current-day gaming; the Wii U gamepad worked very well with the game’s Virtual Console release, while there are now over 700 Pokémon to photograph. Not to mention the modern day obsession with photos and social media – how about selfie sticks and Pokémon Instagram?
Fans have been asking for this one for a long time – even though this wouldn’t be the centrepiece of the show, could this be the time for Nintendo to give their fans what they want?
Likelihood – 2/10
Pokémon loves its trios. Most instalments have a legendary set of three (birds, beasts, etc), and most of its games are released as a set of three. At least until recently. Fans are still awaiting a third game to accompany 2013’s Pokémon X and Y, with rumours suggesting it will be called Pokémon Z, and will feature the legendary Zygarde as its cover star. These rumours are so strong that fans have created several mock-ups of potential box art for Pokémon Z.
Pokémon X and Y were naturally a big deal because they marked another of the series’ vast graphical improvements, to the point where it’s almost unbelievable when they are compared to the original Red and Blue. However, this writer isn’t sure that X and Y were good enough for fans to still be excited for a third instalment almost three years on, particularly since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire have come out since.
Could happen, though.
Pokémon Niji/Rainbow/Sun & Moon
This one’s a bit of a cheat, as we know this title exists. A leak earlier this week confirmed the existence of Pokémon ‘Niji’ (translation: Rainbow) for the Nintendo 3DS. A further leak yesterday confirmed that Nintendo have registered trademarks for Pokémon Sun and Moon, and logos for these two titles were also made available. While nobody is sure quite what this all means, the codename ‘Rainbow’ suggests the Holy Grail of all Pokémon games – all of the colours – the all-region encompassing title. For years, fans have been clamouring for a Pokémon game that lets you visit all of the regions within the series, in a sort of super-charged version of Pokémon Gold and Silver.
The only issue with this is that while the multi-region idea may have worked around the Ruby/Sapphire or even the Diamond/Pearl generations, there are now six regions in the Pokémon series, all of which would not be able to fit reasonably in one game. There would also be no point in having the player pay fleeting visits to each region – there’s just no point in adding them if you can’t explore them.
Pokémon Rainbow, unfortunately, is a codename that allows the fans to dream, which makes it sadder that Nintendo’s announcement is unlikely to live up to expectations. But whatever Pokémon Sun/Moon/Rainbow is, we’re definitely going to find out today.
Enjoy the show, everybody!