Will Every Pokémon Game Come To Switch?
Pokémon has been one of Nintendo’s most lucrative franchises since the initial release of Pocket Monsters Red and Pocket Monsters Green in 1996. In the 23 years since, Pokémon has gone on to be a monumental success both in video games and in popular culture as a whole.
With the latest games, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, set to introduce fans to the 8th generation of Pokémon later this year, Nintendo and the Pokémon Company will be releasing their 20th iteration of the RPG series and the second game for the Nintendo Switch.
Having released in March of 2017 the Switch has already proved to be a run away success both with longterm Nintendo fans and the wider gaming community. Pokémon has also shown it is set to continue its success on Nintendo’s latest console as Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee! sold more than ten million copies in less than two months after its November 2018 release.
With the Let’s Go games being a reimagining of Pokémon Yellow and the orignal generation, the Nintendo Switch will feature a version of the 1st and 8th generation of Pokémon come the end of 2019. The question is though what about generations 2 to 7?
The previous console to play host to the core Pokémon RPG series was the Nintendo 3DS. Originally releasing in 2011 the 3DS remains a popular handheld system despite the success of the Switch. What’s more is that the Nintendo 3DS currently is the only console that allows fans to play a version of every generation of Pokémon games.
Pokémon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow all released on in February of 2016 on the 3DS eShop via the Virtual Console.
Pokémon Gold and Silver released in September of 2017 on the 3DS eShop via the Virtual Console. Pokémon Crystal then followed onto the Switch eShop Virtual Console in January of 2018.
HeartGold and SoulSilver, the remakes of Gold and Silver, which released on the Nintendo DS in March 2010 were also playable as the 3DS can play DS cartridges.
Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire saw remakes in the form of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire which released on the 3DS in November 2014.
Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl had releases on the Nintendo DS in April 2007 and Pokémon Platinum released on the DS in March 2009. The 3DS’s ability to play DS cartridges allows these games to be played on the 3DS.
Pokémon Black and Pokémon White are playable on the 3DS via backwards compatibility with the Nintendo DS which released in March of 2011.
The sequels, Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 then released on the DS in October 2012 which are also playable on the 3DS.
Pokémon X and Pokémon Y released on the 3DS in October 2013.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon released on the 3DS in November 2016. We then saw the release of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon released in November 2017 on the 3DS.
It is this continuity on the 3DS that has allowed fans to achieve the catchphrase of the franchise and ‘catch them all’. 807 Pokémon were created between generations 1 and 7 and between trading and the Pokémon Bank players could collect every Pokémon on the 3DS system. Moving onto the Nintendo Switch though players will only have access to the first 151 from the Pokémon Let’s Go games, Meltan and Melmetal from Pokémon Go and which ever Pokémon are included in Sword and Shield.
It is expected that Nintendo and Game Freak will bring Pokémon Bank to the Switch which will allow those that played the previous entries on the 3DS to have their collections on the Switch but what about new or lapsed fans?
With the Pokémon brand only expected to grow over the coming year with the release of Detective Pikachu in theatres and Sword and Shield releasing late 2019, it seems only logical for Nintendo and Game Freak to want to give players access to as much Pokémon as possible. All reports indicate that Nintendo is focussing more and more on the Switch and therefore it wouldn’t make sense to encourage players towards the 3DS systems in order to revisit past games but rather bring those games to the Switch.
Doing so though may require more work than either company is prepared to do. With the success of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a follow-up based on the Gold and Silver games. This could even come as soon as next year as Pikachu and Eevee reportedly took 2 years to develop. It is easy to assume that this trend could continue and we would see Let’s Go versions of other generations. The problem with this however is time.
If each Let’s Go game takes two years to complete and Game Freak do release a Johto version next year and keep to that schedule then a Let’s Go version of Sun and Moon wouldn’t release until 2030, 11 years after the release of generation 8. This would also mean the Sun and Moon Let’s Go games would release 13 years after the launch of the Switch which is far beyond the lifespan of a games console.
With Let’s Go remakes of every generation not a likely possibility the other route is ports of the 3DS games. These would have their own set of problems, the two biggest of which would be the user interface and increase in screen size.
Having been developed for the Nintendo DS and 3DS systems these games have been designed to incorporate a second touch screen. This feature has been used to accommodate the user interface as well as navigation of menus. Port’s of these games would have to be reworked to include these aspects onto one screen be it via a traditional pop up menu or an overlay on top of the game.
As for visual presentation the games face the issue of graphical quality. The New 3DS XL has a display of 4.88 x 4.18 inchs and a resolution of 800 x 240. The Nintendo Switch however has a 6.2-inch display and a resolution of 1280 x 720 (which outputs to 1080p when docked). This increase could leave the some of the Pokémon games looked stretched out and pixellated especially if docked and viewed on a TV. Some of the newer 3DS titles were developed with HD assets and then down scaled to work on the 3DS and therefore could look pretty great on the Switch but some may need more work.
If Nintendo’s past history has shown anything though it is that they want to try to make the Pokémon series as accessible as possible especially on the console that is home to the core RPG series. With Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield set to include both new and existing Pokémon they will likely hope that fans are interested in the Pokémon from existing generations and want to revisit where they originated from.
What’s more is that if Nintendo wants to position the Switch as a dominant force in the console market over the coming years then they will need the full force of the Pokémon brand behind them in order to succeed. Arguably only second behind Mario in terms of public recognition, Pokémon is a franchise loved by hardcore gamers and casual fans alike. With generation 8’s Sword and Shield releasing this year we are unlikely to see generation 9 before 2022 and so ports of previous games is an easy and accessible option to keep Pokémon in the forefront of Switch players consciousness.
If rumours and speculation are to be believed then we are likely to see a remake, either a Let’s Go version of Gold/Silver or a complete remake of Diamond/Pearl, next year following on from Sword and Shield this year. If Nintendo and Game Freak do indeed bring older Pokémon titles to the Switch I would then expect to see a full roll out before the end of 2021 to tie the series together before a potential generation 9 title.
So do you want to see the whole Pokémon series on the Switch? If so which games do you want to see ported over first? Let me know in the comments and be sure to check back here for all the latest Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield news.