At the onset of January, the official Pokémon Twitter account told fans to mark their calendars for January 8th. Big news was coming.
From that single tweet, I read a lot of buzz from fansites, comments and forums that suggested Nintendo was making a full-on console Pokémon game. Not Pokémon Snap, but a traditional, 3D, full Pokémon entry for the Wii U.
Even before the announcement came and went (it wound up being for Pokémon X and Y, a brand new Nintendo 3DS game coming this October), I knew Nintendo wouldn’t be able to get Game Freak, the Pokémon studio, to create a full console entry.
Pokémon is perfect as a portable game.
Game Freak pretty much has full control over the main line of Pokémon games. They create the titles, tweak the mechanics and push them out on Nintendo’s portable platforms. From there, the money rolls in from every corner of the Earth. Everybody wins.
Game Freak Producer Junichi Masuda spoke to Gamasutra about finding a perfect balance with Pokémon, why the features don’t change too harshly and why the game will always basically be the same.
“Finding that balance every time is very difficult. But when you think about games, just like playing, for example, soccer and basketball, they’re games that have been around for a very long time. The core gameplay of those — the core of how you play basketball and soccer — hasn’t really changed. Over the years, there’s regulation changes or rule changes to those games, but the core gameplay doesn’t really change for those, and that’s how we kind of feel about Pokémon as well.
When you have those slight regulation changes for soccer and basketball, you can kind of think of that as when we develop more moves for the Pokémon, or change those moves. And finding that balance is very difficult every time. But one thing we’re maybe more focused on these days is defining more detail in those moves. Where it might’ve been a little bit more general or broad in the past, we get into the fine detail of Pokémon moves, I’d say, in the more modern games.”
With me so far?
Consoles would be too big of a change.
If Masuda genuinely believes that Game Freak has honed in on the perfect balance for Pokémon, the jump to consoles wouldn’t work for the series. Moving to consoles, especially to one like the Wii U, would mean that the entire formula for creating these games would change.
When it comes to Pokémon, Game Freak seems obsessed with perfection. Any regular player of the franchise will openly admit that only minor changes occur between games. The core gameplay, like Masuda explained above, won’t change for Pokémon.
Put it on the Wii U and Game Freak would have to figure out a way to use the GamePad. They’d need to change the way the Pokémon world is perceived (from top-down to a free camera third person, perhaps?). They’d re-organize just about every factor of the game. For any other series bf any other developer, this would be do-able. For a company that so openly resists dynamic changes when it comes to Pokémon, I don’t see it happening.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a well made Pokémon game for consoles. You know what I’d love even more? A completely new IP from Nintendo that’s built for the Wii U from the ground up.
Joey Davidson is the Associate Gaming Editor for CraveOnline. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeyDavidson.