The Pokemon Company kicked off the new year with a Pokemon Direct press conference that not only announced the return of a fan-favorite game; but also introduced the first full ‘Expansions’ for an existing core Pokemon game. Though the true value of this press conference was what these announcements could mean for the future of the franchise. Let’s break down the announcements and go into the larger changes/ directions this press conference could foretell!
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX
This might not be the Diamond & Pearl remakes that fans have been begging for; but a return to the Mystery Dungeon series has also been pretty high on fans’ ‘want’ list. Though whether you’re a fan of the Mystery Dungeon series or not, the first announcement of this week’s Pokemon Direct could have implications much larger than anything a Gen 4 Remake would provide.
At the surface, this announcement could mean that the Pokemon Company is testing the market with this remake before making completely new additions to the Mystery Dungeon series. Though a deeper implication is that the Pokemon Company is looking into bringing back/ expanding upon older fan-favorite Pokemon series OUTSIDE of Gamefreak’s library. There’s plenty of older Pokemon games that were developed by other studios that could very easily be brought into the current market for both mobile and console games.
For example, Pokemon Pinball or Puzzle Master would be a simple shift to Mobile. On the other hand, titles like Pokemon Snap (N64), Pokemon Colosseum or XD (Gamecube) would be incredible for console! Both would offer fans gameplay styles that we haven’t truly seen in any Pokemon games since! Plenty of top games have implemented camera modes for their games (i.e.: Horizon Zero Dawn, FF15, etc). So imagine what a studio could do with a game entirely dedicated to taking photos of Pokemon in their natural habitat – Pokemon Snap!
Pokemon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass
Pokemon Crystal, Emerald, Platinum, Black/White 2, (not Z), Ultra Sun/Moon. Gamefreak LOVES their expanded/ follow-up games. So much so, I was half expecting to get Sharper Sword/ Sturdier Shield announced. Why can’t we get glorious Post Game story add-ons like the ‘Delta Episode’ that came with OmegaRuby/ AlphaSapphire? Well, it looks like Gamefreak has finally learned the way because the BIG announcement of this week’s Pokemon Direct was an Expansion Pass for Pokemon Sword & Shield.
Like the main games, the pass will offer slight differences on Pokemon and characters depending on which version it’s for. Though having not one but two add-ons already planned for these games is an incredible idea that exponentially adds to the replayability of the game. The last time we got a post-game of substance in a mainline Pokemon game was basically HeartGold & SoulSilver! I could really poke fun at how it took them SO LONG to figure this out; but I won’t because I’m SO HAPPY Gamefreak is finally doing this.
If you were someone upset about the #BringBackNationalDex scandal, you can breath again. If Gamefreak initially limits the Pokemon count just to later reveal them as massive game, region, story, character add-ons… That is something I am completely game for! So if you’re a casual Poke-gamer (or at the very least don’t care about Shiny Hunting, Breeding, IVs, etc), the implementation of expansions is a MAJOR development for the series and is one I desperately hope Gamefreak continues.
Seriously Gamefreak…. CONTINUE This Trend!
I’m not joking Gamefreak. This ‘Expansion Pass’ better not be the latest ‘Delta Episode’ – or Z Move, or Mega Evolution, or Follow Pokemon, or Fashion Show, etc… You’ve been known to have a ‘gimmick’ each Generation and do away with well-received ideas before; but PLEASE do not let this be one of them. Pokemon is now a console game; and Expansions/ Seasonal Content are synonymous with console games. These are what you need to have/ keep around moving forward. And further more…. it’s also a lot easier on you too.
With Expansions, your games now have a MUCH longer shelf life. Fans will have a reason to go back, catch new/ returning Pokemon and dive deeper into the lore of the region. And as for you Gamefreak, you’ll have more free time! Instead of starting from scratch with a new game every year, you can dive deeper into the game you already made. This can allow for games to have a longer development time as the Expansions will fill the need for that following year’s release.
Regional/ Expanded Variants of Existing Legendaries
We’re at over 800 Pokemon currently, and we’ve heard for a while how they want to cut down/ manage this number a bit more. Regional, Primal Forms and Mega Evolutions have been a great way to keep the numbers growing without actually growing the numbers. Even some Gigantamax forms contribute to this trend – though I feel many should just be straight up evolutions/ Mega forms.
This week’s Pokemon Direct also showed signs that this trend is being revisited/ continued when it comes to Regionals and Legendaries. There was a lot of talk about a Galarian Slowpoke which will have a different evolution depending on which Expansion’s item you use – Isle of Armor’s or Crown Tundra’s – but we also saw some … regional? variant? Legendaries. Aside from Regivolt and Regidrake (at least that’s what I’m calling them) we got a glimpse at variants of the original Legendary Bird Trio. Are these Regionals or some kind of Primal form? Articuno and Moltres variants look the most similar to their originals; but Zapdos’s variant has gone from Thunderbird to full on Terrorbird! Old fans or new, THESE are designs everyone can get behind!