Pokemon Switch: Do We Need to Return to Kanto?
Some interesting rumors came up recently concerning the upcoming Pokemon Switch games. The titles and overall mechanics of Pokemon’s switch debut seemingly leaked. The games will apparently be called Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Let’s Go! Eevee. The leaks seemed all but confirmed after URLs for the titles were purchased. Now all we have to do is wait for the official reveal.
Let’s Go! Pikachu and Let’s Go! Eevee are set to be remakes of Pokemon Yellow on the Game Boy. Naturally, walking Pokemon would return since HeartGold and SoulSilver. That’s a great thing! But it’s everything else that seems a bit concerning. Pokemon on Swtich will indeed be a return to the first generation of the series. Red and Blue, while not the main characters, are slated to appear once more. This is a problem.
Headed Down This Path
Nostalgia for Generation One has been a common thread throughout Pokemon in the last few years. It was Mega Evolutions in X and Y being majority for Generation One monsters. Getting to choose between Bulbasaur, Squirtle, and Charmander in addition to your starters in those games. Moving to Sun and Moon, Alolan Forms were reserved exclusively for Kanto Pokemon.
It was in other sections of the franchise, as well. Original series mainstays Brock and Misty recently made their return to the series in the Sun and Moon anime. The 20th film in the series was a retelling of the first season, albeit with different plot points. Pokemon Go debuted exclusively with monsters from Gen One. (Let’s get back to that point in a bit.)
This isn’t a problem unique to Pokemon, of course. Nintendo in general has made an appeal to court its older fans, with the NES and SNES Classic. In fact, 1990s nostalgia has been all the rage lately. So maybe it’s not surprising to see Pokemon going this route. What is surprising, however, is to see an entire new generation (we think?) be dedicated to nostalgia.
The Pokemon Go of It All
Speaking of the speculated path of Pokemon on Switch, it would be foolish to ignore Pokemon Go, the game that completely changed the landscape when it launched two years ago. A game that, at launch, came with Pokemon exclusively from the Red/Blue/Green/Yellow generation. And developer Niantic just announced that Alolan forms will be coming to the mobile game soon.
To call Pokemon Go a success would be an understatement. It was a full-on phenomenon. Part of why probably has at least something to do with the fact that it had the creatures that held the most nostalgia.
Let’s Go is probably retroactively taking cue from Go’s success. There’s rumblings of a strong Pokemon Go connection in these upcoming releases in general. It makes sense that The Pokemon Company wants players of Go to jump to the Switch. It’s in the (rumored) names! A big selling point of Pokemon Go was nostalgia. And Pokemon on Switch seems to be doubling down on that nostalgia.
A Step Back
In many ways, returning to the First Generation would be a setback for the franchise. In an era when Nintendo as a company is looking ahead, Pokemon looking back would be a mistake. Sure, one could make the argument that the sheer number of monsters is starting to get convoluted, but is this the right option?
Recent rumblings have suggested the game would only include the original 151 monsters. While a limited Pokedex is the norm for every game’s campaign, the question is whether these would be the only Pokemon in the game completely. I’m inclined to assume that all the 800+ monsters would be in the game, as the metagame has increased in prominence over the last few years.
One of the joys of the Pokemon competitive scene is to see what combinations of creatures players create to form their teams. Restricting the pool would severely limit these opportunities. That’s why I believe we will be able to use all the Pokemon that have been introduced, even if they aren’t all available in-game. And it may be for the best that Game Freak takes a pause on introducing any new monsters.
But Pokemon has made many more strides that stand to be disregarded. Sun and Moon brought a variety of innovations to the series. Pokemon had begun to become quite formulaic by the time these games rolled around, and Generation Seven did a lot to refresh the series.
Sure, the island trials don’t make sense on a region outside of Alola, especially Kanto, but a return to the gym formula would be a little odd. More exciting is the rumored return of the Poke Ride introduced in Sun and Moon, which really helped streamline the gameplay.
If Pokemon must return to Kanto, there is a way to make it feel less like a rehash. No one’s quite sure what time period it will take place, but it doesn’t seem to be a simple remake. So this is the perfect opportunity to see Kanto in a new light.
We’ve already visited Kanto four times, and there has been very little change in the original region What is Kanto like ten years in the future? Twenty years? Rumor has it original main characters Red and Blue will be in this game (again), but Red will not be playable in these installments. This makes it seem likely that it will take place at least sometime after Red/Blue/Green. But why not go all the way with this?
I’ve seen rumblings that these games will take place in a post-apocalyptic Kanto, hundreds of years in the future. That’s probably not true, but it’s interesting. While a post-apocalyptic Pokemon game isn’t really something I see many people clamoring for, a futuristic Pokemon game could be fascinating.
How has Kanto changed in the years since Red first set out on his journey? How have the towns changed, how has the technology progressed? Would they still be using the standard gym pattern? Or would they adopt a new system to test a trainer’s strength? The possibilities are endless, really. This would make it feel less like a rehash of what we’ve seen before, especially considering Kanto is the series’ most-visited region.
What is Pokemon Switch?
Sure, we’ve had leaks and rumors aplenty, but we know basically nothing about Pokemon on Switch. There has been a load of speculation (remember Pokemon Stars?), but nothing concrete has been confirmed. Pokemon is rumored to be revealed by the end of May, and E3 will surely bring some more information.
Kanto was visited in the first, second, third, and fourth generations. Kanto Pokemon received a heavy focus in the sixth and seventh generations. Do we really need a return trip to the region? Apparently Game Freak thinks so.
Limiting the Pokedex to the original 151 monsters is understandable, but considering that a lot of those Pokemon received evolutions (and pre-evolutions) in later generations, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. If Eevee is indeed a starter Pokemon, would the original three Eeveelutions be the only available ones? Or would we be able to, for example, acquire a Sylveon?
But these games do present an opportunity for the franchise as a whole to move forward. This will be the first time a core Pokemon game has appeared on a home console, so it will be interesting to see what Game Freak does with this new opportunity. And the first time a Pokemon game will be in HD.
A return to the standards of the original Pokemon games may be seen as a step back, but in a way, it also presents an opportunity to move forward. We shall see what Game Freak has up their sleeves when these games are finally revealed.
Are you excited by a potential return to Kanto? Or would you rather see a new region explored? And if you want to discuss this and more with our staff (plus the opportunity to win some awesome prizes!), make sure to follow us on Google Plus below!
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