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Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon only on 3DS is a ballsy move, Nintendo

by Joey Davidson | June 7, 2017June 7, 2017 6:00 am PDT

Nintendo held a special Pokémon Direct presentation on Tuesday that ran eight minutes in length. Over the course of the presentation, they announced a Pokémon title for the Nintendo Switch.

That game? Pokkén Tournament DX. That’s a fine bit of news for Switch owners, sure, as the Wii U version was a solid game that deserves a second shot for a wider audience. The problem is that this was the only Switch game announced during the presentation.

The rumored true Pokémon title that’s coming to the Nintendo Switch? That wasn’t announced. We didn’t even catch a whiff of this supposed Pokémon Stars, which seems like less and less of a thing as the days crawl by.

What we did receive word of was the Virtual Console release of Gold and Silver on the Nintendo 3DS and, the problematic one, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. This one? Also only for the Nintendo 3DS.

We received a press release right after the Direct presentation that briefly discussed what we’ll see in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. They didn’t get too deep into specifics, but here’s exactly what they offered.

During Pokémon Direct, viewers also saw the first footage from the newest titles in the Pokémon series, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon. Two new Pokémon forms were shown resembling that of the Legendary Pokémon Solgaleo and Lunala. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon have been powered up with new additions to the story and features from Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon are scheduled to release worldwide on November 17, 2017—more information about the games will be revealed later this year.

These “new games” feature new forms for pre-existing Pokémon and “new additions to the story.” Essentially, it reads like Sun and Moon have received content patches to make them “Ultra” enough for a re-release. Spinning this in the most positive way, Ultra looks like a unique telling of the original Sun and Moon.

These games should be for the Nintendo Switch. This platform blurs the line between home console and handheld, and it is perfect for the Pokémon series. They could have on in development, sure, but these “Ultra” editions would have been a great leap up.

Nintendo and Game Freak made this choice for two reasons, I assume

The argument for why Nintendo and developer Game Freak would want to hit the 3DS platform again that makes the most sense to me is this: the install base. The Nintendo Switch is off to a strong start, but it doesn’t come close to the 66 million+ Nintendo 3DS owners out there in the world.

That’s a much larger net to cast for software sales. Selling the game for the Nintendo 3DS is probably the more fiscally responsible approach. It’s cheaper to develop, and it has the highest chance of doing well at retail. Nintendo also promised that the 3DS wasn’t dead yet, so this is the company’s attempt to make good on that word.

Game Freak’s also been pretty firm on the idea that Pokémon is at its best when its portable. Back during the Wii era, IGN actually spoke with Game Freak Co-founder Junichi Masuda about whether they would bring a mainline game to consoles. His response remains relevant today.

“I think the Pokemon core series is always going to be with handheld hardware, in the future as well… I consider handheld hardware you can carry around with you as almost being equal to being with Pokemon, always. I think handheld really matches the idea of Pokemon that we have. Also, you can communicate and transfer data all the time, whenever you want with a handheld. That’s also a match with the Pokemon concept.”

I’m not sure I agree with either line of logic, though.

Those reasons, in my mind, don’t hold water

I get that Nintendo wants to continue the Nintendo 3DS’ lifespan, but they need to work to further the success of the Nintendo Switch. Maybe they don’t announce Ultra for the Switch, sure, but why not end that presentation with the promise of a mainline Pokémon for the platform? That would get Switch owners excited, and it would likely drive long-term sales.

As for Game Freak’s argument from 2011? There’s no way that’s still good for the Nintendo Switch. I’ve seen a few folks online cite that quote as fodder for their argument that the Switch doesn’t work for Pokémon. I disagree, wholeheartedly. It’s a portable console just as much as it is a home console. It works for almost all games.

Will we see a mainline Pokémon on the Nintendo Switch? Sound off.


Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson leads the gaming department here on TechnoBuffalo. He's been covering games online for more than 10 years, and he's a lover of all...

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