Now that Nintendo Direct is over, fans couldn’t help but notice that there was one glaring omission from the otherwise successful presentation. Pokemon Stars, the title of the rumored Nintendo Switch Pokemon game, was completely absent, causing some people to question if it actually even exists in the first place. Even still, Nintendo had some sweet announcements. Pokken Tournament DX making its way to the Nintendo Switch is a major victory for console owners and Pokemon fans. The 3DS will also be getting Pokemon Ultra Sun and Moon which will take place in the same world as the original Sun and Moon games but with new story elements and Pokemon.
Plenty of Pokemon fans will be satisfied at the idea of a brand new Pokemon Sun and Moon to play through. These games will likely parallel the differences between Pokemon Black and White and their sequels. The announcement of these games seems to have disheartened internet fans across the globe, but after a closer look this might not be bad news at all. Let’s compare this Pokemon Black and White and their sequels, as it’s the closest possible comparison.
The original Pokemon Black and White were released on September 18, 2010. Black and White 2 were released on June 23, 2012. This means that there was a little over a 1.5 year gap between releases. Ultra Sun and Moon are scheduled to release 12 months after the originals. That’s a full 9 months less of development time that was needed compared to Black and White 2. This could be for several reasons, but the most likely is simply that GameFreak was able to streamline the sequel making process by reusing as many assets as possible. Logic would dictate that as a company gains experience doing something that the process would move faster.
The shorter development time for Ultra Sun and Moon is really just the tip of the iceberg. Things really start to get interesting when you realize that Pokemon X and Y was released a little over a year later after Black and White 2. Pokemon X and Y marked a drastic improvement on the overall Pokemon game product. It wasn’t so much that it redefined the game or its mechanics. It was just a culmination of everything that is great about Pokemon packed into a brand new game in a way that was more satisfying than ever before. This is exactly what Pokemon Fans are hoping for with Pokemon Stars.
Pokemon Stars could be the next Pokemon X and Y. An obvious reason for this would be the upgrade in hardware. Focusing on a sequel instead of a brand new game would allow much of the creative team to focus on the next project. The teams that work on the map, progression, and asset development can already be working on Pokemon Stars while a skeleton crew can handle the details of Ultra Sun and Moon since most of the heavy lifting can be recycled from the originals.
This is all just speculation, but smart businesses do what has proven to work in the past. GameFreak and The Pokemon Company have a history of using a sequel as a bridge to new hardware and title. It looks like in this case that history may be repeating itself.