Nintendo’s recent Pokémon presentation at Tokyo Big Sight ended with a teaser (seen above) both vague and enticing enough to put even The Evil Within’s lead-up to shame. To the dismay of onlookers everywhere, the video in question revealed little more than a few fleeting seconds of combat between Blaziken and Lucario, and Nintendo has refused to comment on related inquiries since. More importantly, the gameplay is entirely 3D and looks to be a far cry above the quality of 3DS Pokémon installments, which implies, entirely unfoundedly, that the alleged game will hit Wii Us everywhere.
The teaser comes less than two months after the reveal of Pokémon Rumble U, a download- and Wii U-only brawler title with a small tie-in to the figurine craze that is currently set to release at the end of the month, and with the impending launch of Pokémon X & Y inching closer and closer. Of course, the notion of a new Pokemon IP isn’t going to stand with only four seconds of tantalizing footage going for it. However, the idea does hold more water than the everygamer’s pipedream, in that a new Pokémon title is exactly what the Wii U needs—a first-party mega-hit.
It’s no grand secret that the Wii U is starving for software (I’m actually getting tired of saying it), nor is it difficult to prove that first-party releases are the cornerstone of Nintendo. The recent launch of Pikmin 3 illustrated this yet again, as the game quickly skyrocketed to the top of Wii U sales. Furthermore, shortly after, Pikmin 3 plummeted down the Top 50 ladder. This illustrates an integral aspect of Nintendo releases: They burn out quickly. Nearly everyone who wants Obligatory But Enjoyable Mario Title 12 or The Legend of Zelda: Where the Hell Did She Go This Time? is going to run out and buy them immediately. This has led to a reputation of all but infallibility for the Nintendo brand, and rightfully so, but it also necessitates a degree of consistency to keep the purchasing momentum going. Otherwise, as current circumstance shows, Nintendo’s hardware hits a standstill. This makes the Pokémon name uniquely valuable for Nintendo.
Name one core Pokémon release that didn’t prove to be an absolute market-shocker. Go ahead--try. I certainly can’t do it. Anything bearing the Pokémon name is a veritable lottery win for video game development: It’s prepackaged with an enormous fan following, is innately deserving of sequels, and is practically guaranteed to stay active in the market for months, if not years, to come. The execs over at Nintendo would have to be stark raving mad not to throw a trump card like that onto the Wii U, a system that stands to benefit from the surge more so than any other. They may as well title the thing System Seller.
Interestingly enough, Nintendo has already opened the door for such a release with their aforementioned eShop title Pokémon Rumble U. Far from confirming the company’s Wii U plans, however, Rumble raises more questions than it answers. The most prominent question is this: Is Nintendo finally going to cash in on the enormous figurine potential of the Pokémon franchise?
As our own Jenni Lada points out, this is a question that’s been on the table since the catalytic and runaway success of Activision’s Skylanders series, and one that has only been re-upped with the positive reception of Disney Infinity. Further still, the timing of the new teaser, coupled with the August 29th release of a small but integral figure lineup for Rumble, only puts more fuel on the fire. Is Pokémon Rumble U actually a tentative step into the figure-game scene—a microcosm of a hypothesis to be fleshed out later?
Unfortunately, we know very little about the mystery Pokémon game beyond its 3D structure (which is strangely reminiscent of Pokémon Stadium). However, the fact remains that a new Pokémon IP for the Wii U, be it the long-wanted Pokémon MMO—a possibility that is also gaining ground in the credible-rumors archive due to the surge of MMO activity around consoles—or some sort of figurine crossover, could easily be a massive success for Nintendo and a welcomed shot in the arm for its fledgling console.