Nintendo broke new ground in this week’s “Nintendo Pokemon Direct” and for the first time ever made an announcement for the simultaneous worldwide release of the next entry in the Pokemon series. Set for October 2013 and dubbed “Pokemon: X” and “Pokemon: Y” versions, these games mark the beginning of the sixth generation of main series titles and offer a significant jump in graphical style as the series evolves from 2D sprites to 3D rendered graphics. While it seems obvious that the next Pokemon game would be set for a 3DS release, I find it funny that the overwhelming response I read from commenters is to this tune:
“I won’t pick up another Pokémon game until it’s a full AAA title running in HD on a home console. Those Gamecube ones don’t count, they sucked.” – TheAlmightyZeus
TheAlmightyZeus got one thing right: The Gamecube Pokemon games DID suck. So do we really need the main Pokemon series to make the jump to home consoles? Aside from the fact that Pokemon is deeply rooted in a philosophy of real-world contact and that ALL OF THAT would be left behind in the shift from portable to home platform, I think Kotaku commenter, Slooshy, said it best: “Everything that people want Pokemon to be, from an MMO to a Skyrim-like experience, just isn’t Pokemon.” Even recent fan made renderings fuel the fire and show what a realistic version of Pokemon might look like running on the Wii U. While pretty to look at, I would definitely be disappointed with this kind of approach for a new entry in the series.
Meet your new starters: Chespin, Fennekin, and Froakie!
So what interest does Game Freak or Nintendo have in shifting the series that single-handedly revived the portable market to instead focus on home consoles when it continues to sell millions and please fans as is? If I felt the series had grown stale or was in the need of a kick start, then I might be in favor of such a change, but Pokemon remains a sort of comfort food with its tried and true “catch ‘em all” formula that has its core elements rooted in a portable experience. While I understand that there is a contingency of gamers who don’t “do” handhelds, I can’t help but feel like the signature charms of Pokémon might be lost on this sort of player. Remember the real-life begging and pleading it took to convince your friend to part with his Bulbasaur because you HAD to have all three starters to complete your Pokedex? While the series has evolved along with the portable technology and now includes online battle and trading, the school yard charm is what has always defined the Pokemon experience and continues to this day.
I’ll take one more note from Slooshy and re-iterate his point by saying that “Pokemon doesn’t need to change much at all, and if it ever did, it would be a significantly different kind of game.” That’s not to say that the Pokemon experience can’t work on consoles, but it’s a series that I think will always be prioritized as a portable first and I sincerely hope it stays that way. My condolences to console gamer “TheAlmightyZeus” in the meantime, but if you want to play the new generation of Pokemon, I think you’d better get a 3DS.