Fans of the Pokémon series around the world have been treated with some exciting news in the last month. With E3 2019 fast approaching, a Nintendo Direct for the upcoming games Pokémon Sword & Shield took place on June 5th at 9AM EST/ 6AM PDT with a 15-minute presentation highlighting more information that we have yet to see. Another exciting event was the yearly Pokémon Press Conference which took place on May 28th. This event highlighted many business opportunities, new ideas, devices, and how the future of Pokémon would take shape. There’s a lot to cover so let’s dive in!
Pokemon Sword & Shield
Nintendo gave us a 15-minute Pokemon-centric direct complete with a 3 1/2 minute trailer for Pokémon Sword & Shield that revealed a lot of what us Pokémon fans were hoping for. During the direct, the Pokémon Company showed off the new open world of Galar, complete with lush forest, open mountain ranges, and beautiful cities. The new trailer also introduced some new Pokemon including Drednaw, which looks like a beast, Corvikight, Gossifer and instant fan favorite, Wooloo! During the Direct, we also got a look at two new legendary Pokémon, Zacian and Zamazenta. Zacian is a big wolf holding a sword in it’s mouth while Zamazenta is a big wolf with a shield covering its body. Along with features Max Raid Battles, facing off against traditional gyms and secret bases, Pokémon is also introducing Dynamaxing, a new mechanic that allows your Pokémon to grow huge for some reason. Other than that, this looks like the Pokemon game we’ve been waiting for for a long time.
With a ‘subtle’ hint of going to see Godzilla, ToHo manager Hiro Matsuoka came on stage to talk about the success of Detective Pikachu, and the opportunities they are looking forward to for future movie developments. Showing off an image of Mewtwo and Mew and the title, it is clear that their next project is a revamped version of Pokémon: The First Movie which debuted in 1999. Even Pokémon President/CEO Ishihara had to get a chuckle of the Godzilla thrown into the talk.
The release of Detective Pikachu starring Ryan Reynolds was a box office hit, and to keep with the ongoing praise around it, it was announced that a continuation of the first game would be launched on the Nintendo Switch sometime in early 2020. For those that own the 3DS game will know the story ended on pretty much a cliffhanger, and this would answer the many questions that were left.
In an effort to begin their relationship with China, The Pokémon Center was established in Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport. This initiative gives way for people to come together to not only shop for some of their favorite products such as software and collectibles, but also give a space for fans alike to come together and discuss/play some of their favorite titles. Yoriomi Uego, President of the Pokémon Center, would discuss further opportunities of Pokémon Center appearing in many locations, however, there was nothing confirmed for the United States or Europe at this time.
As the Pokémon series released on newer generation consoles such as the DS and 3DS, The Pokémon Company wanted to give players the opportunity to bring their Pokémon that they raised from earlier generations. Pokémon Bank would introduce that opportunity to players around the world and for a nominal fee of $5 a year, players would be able to store up to 3,000 Pokémon in these banks. Game Freak wanted to expand on this and introduced Pokemon Home, a Switch and iOS/Android application that will serve as a central hub for transferring Pokémon not just from Bank, but including titles such as Pokémon GO and the new Pokémon Sword & Shield games. Trading in this application will also be possible so the possibility of Wonder Trading will not cease to amaze.
A short video was played highlighting the success of Pokémon GO, driving users to get out and get physically active while catching their favorite Pokémon, but at the end of the day we all need sleep. A new announcement of Pokémon Sleep was introduced, a new type of game that is played while you sleep. While no major details were given on how the game would be played, a new device was introduced to use in conjunction with the game simply known as the Pokémon Plus+ device. This is a very mixed opinion not only based on the poor name choice but just exactly how will this game fare in this kind of position. More information is expected throughout the year.
Another mobile game, Pokémon Masters, was introduced that boasts playing with your favorite trainers from all the games and seasons of anime. Such characters as Blue and Brock were shown in the very short gameplay footage. From what was shown, a team of three would be composed with one Pokémon each in a 3v3 showdown. Special moves could be triggered to turn the tide of battle in your favor, and just like that the video was cut short with a message of release in 2020. Not much was discussed but is expected to release more information later this year.
To wrap up this years conference, Ishihara showed off the new shirt he was wearing underneath his blazer, and noted all the speakers for this press conference were wearing similar apparel. A new line of clothing would launch in Japan with many designs. It is not clear when a Western release is to be expected, but I anticipate with demand it will not take a very long time to happen.
As one of the popular game developers in China, NetEase was given the opportunity to release Pokémon Quest on their system, making this one of the first official Pokémon releases. While it will retain most of the core gameplay that is currently available worldwide, a PvP and social structure will be implemented for players in that region. While the idea sounds great, I personally don’t see an update releasing globally and including these features in the foreseeable future.