With Today’s Disappointing ‘Pokémon’ Direct, We Remember That Nintendo Is Still Nintendo – Forbes
We got a much-anticipated Pokémon Direct today which…well, you know. Things weren’t quite what we wanted them to be. Pokémon Stars remains just a rumor in favor of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, both available only on the 3DS. The 3DS is also getting Virtual Console releases of Pokémon Gold and Silver, not available on the Switch because of course, the Switch has no Virtual Console. The Switch, which some were hoping would be the star of this announcement, gets a version of Pokkén Tournament, a fighting game spinoff. Which is fine, I guess, but not what we really wanted. All in all, it’s a good opportunity to remember that Switch or otherwise, Nintendo is still in the business of flummoxing and strange announcements.
In retrospect, it’s what we should have expected. There are, of course, great reasons to release any and all Pokémon games new or remastered on the 3DS, most of them having to do with the colossal install base. A forward-thinking strategy that establishes the Switch as a must-have console is nice and all, but printing money is a perfectly fine thing to do in the meantime. There are less good reasons, of course, to continue to avoid migrating one of your most successful franchises of all time over to your new console. At the very least, some sort of statement of intent would have helped: people want to play a mainline Pokémon game on the Switch, and Nintendo should at least let us know it’s being worked on. Also, Game Freak should be working on it. The 3DS has always operated as something of an entirely different ecosystem from the company’s living room consoles, but it’s time to break down that wall.
Over the weekend, I wrote about how I was wrong about my the Nintendo Switch: before the console came out I had little faith that Nintendo was going to be able to capitalize on its bold idea, I was wary about previous stumbles with the Wii U and even the Wii. I didn’t quite believe that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could possibly be that good, I didn’t think anyone would actually play this thing in public. Needless to say, I was wrong. I’m now a full-on Switch convert, and the slick little machine has become my favorite place to play the limited selection multiplatform games it has. It’s a console that has genuinely changed the way you can think about games, and that’s not something that happens very often.
It’s tempting then, to think that everything else is going to go well. It’s tempting to think that we were going to get the Nintendo Switch version of Pokémon Stars that we were all sure would be such a great decision because other things seemed to be lining up. Tempting to think that Nintendo’s online service could actually be the Netflix-style Virtual Console people have wanted for years. Neither, of course, are true. There is still no mainline Pokémon game on the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo remains utterly silent about Virtual Console. This is everything we would expect out of the quixotic and mystifying company that gave us the Wii U, just not what we would hope for out of the reenergized company that gave us the Switch.
Expect a lot of give and take from here on out. Arms is coming out soon, which is a real win because Arms is great. The Switch will continue to sell under the momentum of the games it already has, and my guess is that it has more than enough steam to last it until Super Mario Odyssey. But expect a lot more strangeness like this announcement in the meantime. Virtual Console will be weird, we’ll have to wait too long for the first real Pokémon game on the Switch, Smash Bros. will probably take too long, etc. Nintendo is still Nintendo, for better and for worse.
E3 is a big marker. It would be nice to see Nintendo make a splash at the big show, but caution is always advised.