It’s been over twenty years since the first Pokémon games– Red and Blue-– came out. They introduced a generation to a wonderful world filled with pocket-sized monsters and epic battles. The game quickly earned legendary status, as kids the world over sunk hours of their time into growing their collections, tackling gym leaders, and struggling to escape dark caves.
Two decades on, Nintendo is finally offering something that fans have speculated about for years: a mainline RPG Pokémon title tied to a home console.
Over the years, games like Pokémon Stadium have teased the possibility of catching them all on a bigger console with better graphics, and now the Nintendo Switch will finally deliver this mouth-watering concept.
Indeed, it was announced at this year’s E3 that the next game in the main Pokémon series will be available on the Switch. This opens up some exciting possibilities, not least because the Switch has far superior graphics to any Nintendo handheld console. Plus, it can be played at home and on the go, allowing a “best of both worlds” approach that could deliver everything fans want.
Following in the fan-pleasing footsteps of the Switch’s launch title, Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, this new Pokémon game has so much potential.
Here are the 15 Ways To Make The Pokémon Switch RPG Amazing.
15. Give Fans The Original Starter Pokémon
New ideas should always be welcome in the world of Pokémon, but if Nintendo wants adult fans to fork out the cash for a new game and a new console, then they’ll have to offer a healthy dose of nostalgia.
In this age of TV revivals and belated movie sequels, fans have come to expect an awful lot of familiarity from their media.
Here’s one easy way to achieve a cash-attracting level of fan service: put the original starter Pokémon in the game. Growing a Charmander/Bulbasaur/Squirtle into a Charizard/Venusaur/Blastoise in stunning HD is something that a lot of fans would love to do.
It’s also always nice to plonk a Pikachu into your party for old time’s sake, even though it was only a starter option in Pokémon Yellow.
Nintendo clearly has nothing against this sort of thing. In Pokémon X and Y, players were offered an original generation starter Pokémon shortly after picking from the new bunch. Repeating this plot point is a must for the new game.
14. Don’t Make It A Reboot
Knowing that nostalgia is a hugely bankable commodity these days, Nintendo might be tempted to remake the original games for their first Pokémon RPG on the Switch. It would probably be the easiest thing to do: just recreate Red/Blue/Green/Yellow with modern graphics, and chuck in a few little upgrades.
Undoubtedly, playing this game would be a lot of fun. However, it would also be a rehash, offering a story fans that have already played multiple times. There would be very few surprises in a straight-up reboot of the games which started this craze back in the 1990s.
It would probably be more fun to make the Switch RPG a sequel to the games that already exist, dropping the player into a world where the events Blue/Red, Gold/Silver, and all the rest have already taken place.
13. Bring Back Proper Gyms
In the last couple Pokémon games, there’s been a lack of proper gyms. In X and Y, it felt like the gimmicks of travelling through the gym were more important than the battles themselves (which felt way too easy). Additionally, in Sun and Moon, traditional gyms were thrown out altogether in favour of island-specific challenges and battling “Kahunas.”
In order to snare the interest of lapsed fans and offer the most engaging game possible, it would be wise to bring back proper gyms. After all, training up to defeat Brock’s rock-based gym was the first real test back in the classic games. That’s an experience everyone can remember, and will want to recreate in one way or another.
The challenge of toppling tricky gyms is a core part of the Pokémon experience, and it would feel odd not to have it in the Switch game, which is bound to attract fans young and old– all of whom will have high expectations.
12. But Keep The “Island Challenges”
This isn’t to say that the area-specific challenges/trials should be thrown out with the trash. Although Sun and Moon failed to nail the mix between battles and other tasks, there was still a lot of fun to be had with the latter.
In the Switch game, perhaps each town could offer both a proper gym and a task to complete– be it an infestation the locals need help with, a traditional dance you need to learn, or some sort of puzzle that needs solving. Dispersing unique challenges like this around the map could be a great way to keep things fresh.
It might seem like a lot, to expect both gyms and trials in the Switch game, but given that a fair few fans will be forking out big money for a new console just to play this title, it seems reasonable to expect a lot from it. This needs to be a game that can eat up loads of hours.
11. Include An Open-World Feel Like Breath Of The Wild
It’s impossible to deny that the graphics and scale of the Switch’s Zelda: Breath Of The Wild are very impressive. It would be a dream come true to see the Pokémon brand receive the same sort of treatment.
The key, arguably, is the open world feel. The ability to witness a world of such depth– reaching out in all directions– gave Breath Of The Wild a majestic air. If the Pokémon Switch title can match this quality, it could well become the most epic game in the series.
It would certainly be an upgrade on the mapping of the previous games, which consisted of separate routes, towns and buildings meshed together, with a brief loading process breaking up the action whenever you wanted to go from one to another.
10. Upgrade The Graphics To Whole New Levels
You can’t really have an open world feel without souped-up modern graphics to match. As such, if this new game wants to live up to the full capabilities of the Switch, the Pokémon brand will need to be given a serious makeover.
Thankfully, it looks like Nintendo/GameFreak has already been looking into ways of rendering Pokémon that verge on realistic.
The trailer for the (thus far only released in Japan) Detective Pikachu game shows an expressive incarnation of the iconic electric mouse in an impressively detailed environment.
Note the individual bricks on the wall, in the image above, and the depth of field extending all the way down the road. If the Pokémon Switch RPG can muster up this sort of graphical depth and detail, it could feel like a significant upgrade on everything that’s come before.
9. Don’t Be Shy About Classic Characters
By giving Ash Ketchum and Gary Oak (well, their gaming equivalents “Pokémon Trainer Red” and “Pokémon Trainer Blue”) a post-game cameo in Sun and Moon, Nintendo/GameFreak proved that they’re not against diving into their back catalogue for a bit of fan service.
Again, because the Pokémon Switch game is going to be a huge draw for fans old and new, you’d expect the powers-that-be to double down on the throwbacks this time around. Here’s hoping that they don’t just limit themselves to after-the-game cameos, and instead go all in on classic characters.
For long-time fans, nothing would be cooler than seeing characters like Brock, Misty, and Professor Oak play roles in the game. Additionally, nobody would say no to another appearance from Ash/Red, the original protagonist of the series.
8. Reward Playing On The Move
As you probably already know, one of the best features of the Switch is that it’s a household console and a handheld one. You can boot up on your TV at home, play for a bit, then pick up the portable version and keep gaming on your commute.
It would be cool if the Pokémon RPG game– which, as you might’ve guessed, hasn’t been given an official title yet– could make the most of this functionality. After all, this is brand that already has a built-in way to reward playing on the go.
Hatching eggs and unveiling the Pokémon inside them has always been a matter of walking the right amount of steps. In the handheld console games, this means walking your character around the map. In Pokémon Go, it means actually walking around in real life.
Perhaps the latter idea could be used in the Switch game, encouraging players to get out and about, with in-game rewards such as quicker egg hatches. Heck, if they wanted, they could even link real-life locations to ones in the game.
7. Don’t Make It Too Easy
Pokémon X, Y, Sun and Moon all share one fairly significant flaw: they’re not challenging in the slightest. Gone are the days when you’d have to train up for ages before tackling a gym, or regularly lose a battle and have to try again.
Surely, even young kids must find these games to be a complete walk in the park.
The Switch game needs to rectify this. Catching them all shouldn’t be the only challenge in a Pokémon game; training, battling, and progressing around the map should also be difficult.
Making everything too easy takes out a lot of the drama, and lessens the motivation to keep on playing.
Hopefully, whenever this game arrives, it will bring with it a real sense of challenge. “How far have you got?” will be a genuinely interesting question, and fans may have to ask each other for advice once again.
6. Liven Up The Battles (But Don’t Get Too Silly With It)
Getting the battling right is absolutely vital to making this game a smash hit. In the recent games, Nintendo/GameFreak have played around with new ways to liven up the battles: in X and Y, certain Pokémon could Mega Evolve into super-strong versions of themselves; in Sun and Moon, your player character could learn a little dance move to instigate an extra-powerful Z-move from one of your Pokémon.
In both cases, you could only do these cool new tricks once per battle, and you needed to have a relevant item in your possession. However, despite having to earn it and be careful when deploying it, these added extras still had a downside: they made you feel like your party was beefed up to unnecessary levels.
Again, this made the games feel too easy. Perhaps, for the Switch version, they could make the special moves harder to use.
For example, maybe you would need to land a certain amount of hits in a battle before you’re allowed to dish out a special move. This would help make battling feel tactical again, rather than a string of one-sided slugfests.
5. Pick The Right Gimmicks (Like “Following” Pokémon)
It’s not just the battle dynamics that get a new gimmick with each game. There’s always an attempt to add something new: recently, X and Y added Pokémon-Amie, where you can pet and feed your Pokémon in exchange for friendship; Sun and Moon added a talking Pokédex, the online area Festival Plaza, and the jelly bean island Poké Pelago.
In the Switch game, it would be nice to see a mix of old and new gimmicks. Fans probably just wants the most fun ones– feeding Pokémon candy is getting a bit dull– but it would be very cool to see your Pokémon following you around again, and make a comeback from Pokémon Yellow.
Of course, it’s also essential that the Switch game’s online area is strong. Fans will want to battle their friends, trade, and perhaps even go on adventures together. If they can nail these kind of features, Nintendo could have a very popular game on their hands.
4. Stuff It With Mini Games For Multiplayer Fun
Speaking of multiplayer options, another way to give this game a huge amount of playability would be the addition of some competitive mini games.
Pokémon Stadium’s array of wacky four-player games is so much fun that it still gets whipped out from time to time.
It would be amazing to see classics like “Magikarp Jump” making a reappearance, and you can bet that the brain-boxes at Nintendo and GameFreak could come up with some really fun new ones.
Even if it was a DLC that you had to pay for, fans would surely flock to this.
3. Don’t Be Afraid Of Dark Content
Pokémon games used to have a scary edge to them. Everyone who played the original game surely remembers the creepy “Pokémon ghost” segment, and the accompanying haunted house and graveyard that poked at the idea of deceased Pokémon and nudged kids out of their comfort zones.
Of course, no one is expecting the Switch game to focus entirely on dark content, but it would be nice if one town could revisit these ghostly themes (or another equally dark idea). After all, being a bit scared is a part of growing up.
In recent years, the Pokémon games on 3DS have felt a bit too cuddly and generic. By upping the scariness ante for the new game, Nintendo could ensure that the Switch game is a bit more edgy and memorable.
2. Connect It Somehow With Pokémon Go
Pokémon underwent a huge resurgence in popularity last year, as the gimmick of collecting Pokémon in your local area using augmented reality and a mobile app captured the imaginations of pretty much the whole world.
Pokémon Go still has millions of players, and will probably still be in the public consciousness when the Switch RPG rolls around.
It seems logical that Nintendo and GameFreak will want to connect their new console game up with their hugely popular mobile offering, but exactly what this crossover would look like remains to be seen.
Trading Pokémon from Pokémon Go to the Switch would be a recipe for utter chaos, so it seems wise to rule that out.
1. Revisit Classic Regions For Maximum Nostalgia
Nothing would please the fans quite like a nostalgic opportunity to revisit some classic regions. As usual, the bulk of the game will probably take place in a new locale with its own unique quirks, but it would be seriously squee-inducing to follow this with a trip to Kanto (the setting of Red/Blue), or possibly even Johto (seen in Gold/Silver).
As you may well remember, Gold/Silver set a precedent for this, featuring a massive post-game where players were able to travel from Johto back to Kanto and tackle the classic gym leaders anew. It was absolutely incredible to go back to Kanto and see how it had changed and how strong its inhabitants had become.
In a dream world, the Switch game would follow this template, and end its main story with a chance to revisit a classic region or two (or perhaps even more).
In this day and age, it seems likely that you’d have to pay for the classic regions as DLC. However, to visit Palette Town and all the rest, with modern day console graphics, would definitely be worth a few dollars…
What do you want to see in the Pokémon Switch RPG? Let us know in the comments!
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