I was a little confused when Pokémon Black and White 2 was announced last week for the Nintendo DS. Why isn’t the game coming to the 3DS?
It might come as a surprise to some people out there, but I’m actually a big fan of the Pokémon franchise. And that’s not just nostalgia talking. I’ve grown up playing the series, and I do have a sentimental attachment to it. But that’s not the only reason why I still enjoy Pokémon at the age of 23. If you can get past the cuteness of the series, you’ll discover that it’s a deeply addictive, extremely entertaining franchise. Sure, the newer Pokémon are a little ridiculous looking, but the games are still reasonably entertaining and offer up solid experiences.
So back to my point. The 3DS has been out for a year. It’s doing great in both Japan and North America and has a growing library of amazing titles. Why release Pokémon Black and White 2 on an almost eight-year-old handheld? From Nintendo’s financial perspective, I understand the decision. The DS has an install base of 151 million, a number nobody can scoff at.
It makes sense to release titles as huge as the next Pokémon entries on the platform with the most potential buyers. The 3DS sold 15 million units since its release almost a year and a half ago. It’s outpacing the DS’ sales during that time period, but that’s still a small number when you compare it to the DS’ humongous base.
So that’s the financial argument from Nintendo’s perspective. But as a fan, I’d much rather see a new Pokémon title on the 3DS. Nintendo already pissed off early 3DS adopters last year with a much-needed price drop (although the ambassador program did a pretty good job of rectifying the situation). I imagine the Pokémon Black and White 2 announcement annoyed quite a few gamers who purchased the console solely for a new 3D Pokémon title.
I understand that the 3DS has the ability to play DS games, but a new offering, specifically designed to take advantage of the 3DS' unique features, should be coming out at this point. Imagine the cool Spotpass and Streetpass features that developer Game Freak could come up with. Trading Pokémon when you walk past another 3DS owner with the feature enabled, downloading new Pokémon automatically, the possibilities are almost limitless.
I know that a 3DS-specific Pokémon game will eventually come at some point. It’s totally inevitable — sort of how a dual-analog-stick redesign of the 3DS is bound to happen too. At this stage of the 3DS’ life span, however, the game should have already been announced. Obviously, Pokémon Black and White 2 will play on the 3DS, but releasing it on an older portable doesn’t really show that the big N has confidence in its new device. Also, I have a feeling that a direct sequel to the original Pokémon Black and White might confuse the franchise’s fans.
And what about Pokémon Grey? Usually, after the release of a major Pokémon title, a third, improved game comes out a year or so later (Pokémon Yellow and Crystal are perfect examples). In the end, I know Pokémon Black and White 2 will sell an insane amount of copies regardless of what console it is released on. But if Nintendo wants to move more 3DS units, the games should really be coming out on the 3DS.
Either way, I can’t wait to try to catch 'em all again, and since I skipped the first Pokémon Black and White, it’s been a while.
Follow me on Twitter @Patrick_ORourke.