Pokemon is so hot right now. It had an amazing year in 2016. Pokemon Sun and Moon, two greatly hyped mainline installments, both appeared on the 3DS. Pokemon Go became a worldwide phenomenon, gaining attention with people who both were and weren’t familiar with the series Even the trading card game had a great year, with a 20th anniversary Evolutions expansion pack. That absolutely impacted The Pokemon Company and Nintendo, as the fiscal year ending in February 2017 numbers for both showed a 2450% increase for The Pokemon Company and helped contribute to $569 million in profits for Nintendo. The series is doing well.
Which makes it puzzling that this year’s Pokemon offerings seem so lackluster in comparison. Instead of building on this newfound success and capitalizing on it, it almost seems as though Nintendo, Game Freak, and The Pokemon Company are getting a little lazy. Rather than bringing a mainline Pokemon game to the Switch or putting together a remake of Diamond and Pearl, we’re basically getting enhanced ports of Pokemon Sun and Moon and Pokken Tournament. It is disappointing.
I mean, Pokemon Sun and Moon are great. There is no disputing that. It just seems a little dishonest and pandering to Put out Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon only a year later. Especially since it isn’t exactly clear if it is a full sequel, like Pokemon Black Version 2 and White Version 2, or just a slightly altered release like Pokemon Crystal. If Nintendo and Game Freak were going to do such a thing, why not at least make them Switch exclusives, instead of 3DS titles, so it would feel a little more fresh and a little less like it was capitalizing on something that is not even a year old yet?
Pokken Tournament DX falls into more of a grey area, but is still disappointing. Yes, Pokken Tournament is a good game that probably deserved a larger audience beyond Japanese arcades and the few Wii U owners who picked it up. But, it doesn’t seem all that deluxe. It adds the characters that appeared in the arcade version after the console launch, Croagunk, Darkrai, Empoleon, and Scizor. Decidueye is the only new character announced so far. Yes, there are 3v3 matches and various online options that include Ranked, Friendly, and Group fights. It doesn’t seem too overwhelming and amazing, though. New online options and handful of extra characters aside, it is yet another game we saw a year ago.
If we were only seeing one update, it would not be so bad. But to get two in one year, especially within a few months of each other, is disappointing. If it were only Pokken Tournament DX, that would not be so bad. Okay, sure. The Wii U version didn’t get enough exposure, so let’s put it on the Switch. That is fine. But Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon? If there was going to be an update, perhaps it should have been one game.
Pokemon is always going to sell. It is one of Nintendo’s best and biggest IPs. It is just a shame that the 2017 entries are rehashes. Instead of getting something new to build on the success the series saw in 2016, we get different versions of things we have seen before. It isn’t necessarily bad, but does feel a bit lazy. Instead of stepping back, we should see Nintendo, Game Freak, and The Pokemon Company striving for greater heights.
Image Credit: Adam Patrick Murray