With E3 getting close, speculation for upcoming announcements is starting to ramp up. Of all the games we know coming, few are as exciting as Pokémon on Switch; last year, we saw official confirmation that it was in production, and it’s logical to imagine we will see footage at the 2018 event. The leap from 3DS to Switch is a pretty big hardware jump for the mainline games, and brings with it a lot of potential for the series to implement new ideas. With the Switch and the functionality it brings in mind, here are 6 ways that Pokémon could use this opportunity!
Nintendo Switch Online
Just this past week, we heard some concrete information on Nintendo Switch Online. Even with the specifics we have been given about price and other benefits of the service, we’re still in the dark for many of the details (hopefully E3 will change that). Pokémon Switch will almost certainly launch after the paywall is established in September, and when it does, be a big incentive to put your money down for online. Refined versions of the online trading and battling we are used to on 3DS are inevitable, but there are key elements such as voice chat that could do with a big refresher.
Even if it is via the flawed Nintendo Switch Online app, a centralised area for voice chat would be welcome. Speaking of paywalls, it’d be nice if the charge for Pokémon Bank could be bundled into the yearly price for online, when it is made available on Switch (we’re going to need a ferry service for all of those 3DS Pokémon, after all). With cloud saves being introduced as well, could we finally see a way for multiple save files to work in a Pokémon game? The big move to Nintendo Switch gives an opportunity to rework the whole network infrastructure of the series.
I mean, of all the steps that Pokémon will take on Switch, visuals are going to be the most noticeable. With the hybrid nature of the Switch, it brings HD visuals to handheld play; Pokémon was always a series that stuck to being on handheld consoles, and it still will be, sort of – Nintendo have met them in the middle and brought the advantages of a home console to them. Sun & Moon already used more cinematic camera angles and cutscene framing, which when combined with a more powerful system like the Switch, could make for a rather remarkable upgrade – and one that Pokémon has arguably needed for a while. For all of the strengths of the 3DS, it was never a graphical powerhouse. It’s only been made more noticeable now that the Switch is here and competing for our handheld attention. Pokkén Tournament DX gave us a taste of what we could see on Switch last year, but it’s still going to be a big moment when we first see that footage of a mainline Pokémon game in HD.
Bring the Joy (-Cons)
Pokémon has always been a series that experiments with the unique capabilities of the hardware it is on. Look at the first DS entries, Diamond & Pearl – they introduced the Pokétch to fill that second screen, and brought in touch-controlled mini-games like Poffin baking (which ruined the touch screen, by the way). On Switch, the prime candidate for this is the Joy-Cons, which have a plethora of extras. After the success of Pokémon Go, we’re all used to flicking our fingers to toss a Poké Ball, and translating that motion to the Joy-Cons could be a way to harness the feeling again. Use that HD rumble, too; instead of just seeing the twitches of a Poké Ball to see whether you’re going to catch a Pokémon, we could feel it through different vibrations in the palms of our hands. Let’s not go too far though, please – I would like to avoid milking a Miltank 1-2-Switch-style.
Pokémon on the Go
The key differentiator of the Switch is the ability to alternate between playing in handheld or on your TV. Again, to take lessons from Pokémon Go, could on-the-go gameplay mechanics be carried over? Maybe you could choose to take Eggs with you when in handheld mode, and then when you next dock the system, you see them hatching on your TV. Knowing that players will have their massive TV displays to witness Pokémon battles, Game Freak may also have to reconsider the way they stage the game; said battles could be epic affairs on TV, but need a more careful layout on the smaller Switch screen. Different presentation options for the different configurations of the Switch could be one approach to this. In general, though, the idea of being able to play Pokémon anywhere, and then bring it home, dock it, and play with a controller on your couch? That’s an exciting future, and it isn’t far away!
Local multiplayer has always been a key element of Pokémon. This has been the case ever since Red & Blue encouraged trading and battling with friends via the Link Cable on the Game Boy. Switch is no stranger to local play, with two controllers built into the system in the form of the two Joy-Cons. Imagine if they could be taken off and used for a single-screen Pokémon battle between two players! Or, if playing with another Switch owner, those beautiful screens could be used in unison to further push the cinematic feel of the game. On the DS games you saw the trading happening on each system, and setting up Switch screens side by side to see that could be really neat. To translate that to battles, the two screens could combine for a 360 degree look of the arena – or, if you’re more competitive, put them back to back and really push the intensity up. The Switch is going to be great for spur-of-the-moment Pokémon battles!
The million-dollar idea – combining cardboard with Pokémon. Children like creating Nintendo Labo, and children like Pokémon – combine the two, and make all of the money. Creating real Poké Balls, or even models of Pokémon to battle each other, is another step closer to Pokémon being real. We already have a Labo fishing rod, so let’s get that working with fishing in Pokémon, yeah? Providing that the Nintendo Labo line doesn’t crinkle and burn financially, Pokémon is one of many licenses Nintendo could create cardboard for.
Those are 6 ways that the Switch hardware could have an impact on the next Pokémon game! For a deep dive into what we know about Pokémon on Switch so far, and what to expect, you can read this feature!