As of right now, there are a few “major” Pokemon titles on the Nintendo Switch. The first is Pokken Tournament DX, a port of the fighting game that released on the Wii U. It did well enough on the console, selling over 1.3 million units as of April this year. But, it wasn’t a “true” Pokemon game, as it was actually developed by the people behind Tekken. Then, there’s the very recent release of Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee. This game is slated to be another blockbuster for the Switch, with sales in the millions. But it’s not a true Pokemon game either in the sense that it takes a lot of mechanics from Pokemon GO. What many fans are waiting on is “Pokemon Switch 2019“.
Why do we call it “Pokemon Switch 2019“? Well, because it’s a main Pokemon title that’ll be coming out on Switch, and we believe it’ll arrive in late 2019, as that’s what Nintendo told us. But aside from that, what exactly have they told us? Let’s break it down piece by piece.
The Announcement And Release Date
The announcement of Pokemon Switch 2019 came at E3 2017 when Nintendo was doing all it could to boost up the power and hype that the Switch was getting after a strong release. Tsunekazu Ishihara of the Pokemon Company came on during the digital press conference for Nintendo and talked about Pokken Tournament DX, but then stated that a “core RPG Pokemon title” was already in the works at Game Freak.
Now, the key words here are “core RPG”. You see, unlike Pokemon Go, and Pokemon Let’s Go!, a “core RPG” Pokemon title focuses on certain things above all else. As you’ll notice in Let’s Go!, the Pokemon are a bit overpowered, and the act of catching a Pokemon is like the mobile game, instead of having to “weaken” Pokemon in order to catch them. Furthermore, while a story is a part of Let’s Go, it’s a rehash of the Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow titles for the most part, including fighting through the original 8 gym leaders, and taking down Team Rocket. Let’s Go! is meant to be a more casual experience, one that anyone can jump in and enjoy. But a “core RPG” title is meant to push the series forward in a significant way.
At the time, Ishihara stated that the game wouldn’t likely be out for over a year, but now, via numerous reports and Nintendo confirming it themselves, we know that the game will arrive in “Late 2019”. So very likely, it won’t arrive until a year from right now, give or take. At present, we know that 2019 is setting up to be a big year for Nintendo and the Switch, so having the Pokemon Switch 2019 title be the “capper” on the year is a good move, especially if they go in line with the past few years and put it in November to capitalize on Black Friday Sales.
But else do we know?
Next Generation? Past Generations
When you hear “next Pokemon game”, more than likely you think about the now 7 generations of Pokemon that have been coming for the last 20 years. Red/Blue/Yellow, Gold/Silver/Crystal, Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, Diamond/Pearl/Platinum, etc. Each new generation brings a new region to the Pokemon world, and with it, new Pokemon to explore.
This has been one of the best, and sometimes worst, parts of the Pokemon series. For the expansion of the world and its “denizens” is always exciting. But then, at times, the Pokemon that get created are a bit…lame. The Unova region stands out in this regard. But, between X&Y and Sun and Moon, Nintendo has been making a big comeback with the stronger Pokemon creations.
Now, to be clear, Nintendo has NOT confirmed that Pokemon Switch 2019 will feature a new generation of Pokemon. However, the fact that there hasn’t been a new “main” Pokemon title announced for 3DS since Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon seems to indicate that this will indeed be the case. Not to mention that Ishihara stated that it would be a “core RPG” title. Plus, having the next generation on Switch would be a first. For while there have been many Pokemon console games, some of them have stories like the Pokemon handheld titles…none of them have ever been truly like the handheld titles. This could be a big change for that and set a precedent for what is to come in the future.
Another big thing is the trading and transferring of Pokemon. It’s a huge part of the series. But, in Pokemon Let’s Go, it’s not a function. However, Producer Junichi Masuda noted that it will be a part of the next Pokemon game:
“We’re definitely always thinking of that kind of forward-moving functionality, especially since we’ve introduced Pokemon Bank. Now, up to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, you’re able to store your Pokemon, and we know they’re very important to everyone. I mean, obviously, people would be very sad if they couldn’t use their Pokemon in a future game. So, it does get complicated when you talk about the details and we’re still figuring it out, but we do have plans to find ways to let players use their Pokemon in the next game.”
So based on that, and the likelihood of what “core RPG” means, Gen 8 is going to be on Pokemon Switch 2019.
Here is the Nintendo magazine talking about the upcoming Pokémom games pic.twitter.com/TnbJynvQDZ
— Ahnabella (@raqueruu) April 14, 2018
Further proof that Pokemon Let’s Go is more of a “casual” title is that it doesn’t feature many of the online staples that the main Pokemon games have. Sure, the game will have some online battling and online trading, and you’ll be able to do Co-Op in the game for the first time ever. BUT, you won’t be able to trade outside of the Pokemon that are MEANT to be in the game, there isn’t Wonder Trade, the Global Trade Station, or certain rankings battles.
Again, this is meant to be a more “casual” Pokemon experience. But, Pokemon Switch 2019 won’t have that issue. Plus, with Nintendo Switch Online, gamers will likely be able to do even more with the service. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo added some new features for the Switch version.
The Power Of HD
The visuals of Pokemon are actually quite like the Pokemon themselves, they evolve with each generation. By Gen 5, it was clear that sprites weren’t going to work anymore. So Gen 6 was the first handheld series to have 3D graphics, and these were made even better with Gen 7 on the 3DS. However, with the consoles, especially the Wii U and Switch, we had the chance for 3D graphics with an HD twist. Pokken Tournament showed us how interesting and lifelike the Pokemon can be given the right modeler. In contrast, Pokemon Let’s Go! decided to go for a more cute aesthetic because they wanted to truly appeal to the casual players.
“In the earliest days of development, we actually explored that direction quite a bit.
But we got the direction from Masuda, just like he just mentioned a moment ago, to go for this more kind and soothing and inviting experience with the visuals. After some experimentation, we just realized the more realistic, more photorealistic direction just wasn’t really working for what we were trying to do.”
While this is a bit distressing (especially Tyler of the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast who HATES the look of Pokemon Let’s Go), don’t mistake this for what’s going to come in Pokemon Switch 2019. For they admitted that they went for a more photorealistic look before going to the more “cute” look. Which means, that the core title will likely have a more realistic and rugged look. Maybe like Pokken, or maybe even more advanced than Pokken. It just depends on what they feel is best for us.
The HD could also lead to one more thing…
Cutscenes and Voice-Acting
The graphical power of the systems Pokemon has been a key factor in determining just how dramatic they make the Pokemon games in terms of story. The games are famous, and infamous, for their text-reading, and that won’t be changing anytime soon…or could it? For with the Switch’s graphical and audio power, we could see more cutscenes in the Pokemon Switch 2019 title.
While you might think this a red flag, recall that the Legend of Zelda didn’t have any voice acting outside of gibberish audio for a long time. Then Breath of the Wild came around, and while not everyone had voice acting, some did, including the main characters like the Four Champions and Zelda.
So, having said the rival of the game, the Professor, and some of the bad guys talk to you and interact with you via cutscenes instead of just text chat could be a very possible thing.
The Future Awaits…
Regardless of what Nintendo announces in the next year leading up to Pokemon Switch 2019, the next game is going to be the true future of the Pokemon franchise. With new Pokemon, new challenges, new rivals, and likely a whole lot more.
It’s going to be a thrill to see all that Nintendo brings to the game, but no matter what, the message will still be the same, “Gotta Catch’em All!”