Nintendo’s just announced the first Direct of 2020, and the surprises are here even before it’s aired. Rather than an all-purpose broadcast to explain what’s up on Nintendo Switch for the first half of the year, we’re getting a 20 minute, Pokémon-centric stream on Thursday, January 9th.
Pokémon Sword & Shield just released a few months ago, and their success when it comes to sales cannot be understated. So, what can we expect from the Direct? There’s no way of knowing for sure, but there are a few in-progress elements for the series and prevailing theories to consider, as well as some side games that are overdue for a return.
First title update for Sword & Shield
Now that they’ve had some time out in the wild, it might be time to expect word on some kind of update to Pokémon Sword & Shield. There are various Gigantimax Pokémon that haven’t been available in-game (think G-Max Snorlax’s recent appearance), but we’re most hopeful for an expansion to the Galar Dex. While it might be a bit much to expect dozens of new Pokémon to start appearing in the Wild Area, it would give some further longevity to the game.
Expanding the post-game Battle Tower is also an option, perhaps with themed competitions or conditions for Trainers to dive into. Galar is all about battles, and while the game’s story placed plenty of importance on the League there’s still unexplored potential there. What about all the other types and their (potential) Gym Leaders, something hinted at by their jerseys being available to purchase in game. Or maybe the region could host something similar to Black 2 & White 2’s Pokémon World Tournament, bringing back familiar Trainers for a multi-region exhibition event.
Send me back to Sinnoh
Speaking of DS titles, Pokémon has drifted away from its patterns in recent years when it comes to remakes. While we reliably saw all of the first three generations of games get a revival of some sort (and Gen I got a third go-around with Let’s Go!), we’re still left waiting on Diamond & Pearl. These were the first games in the series for the DS and they (as well as third version Platinum) are starting to show their age a bit. A fresh coat of paint, modern conveniences, and some fresh features and surprises could help the chilly Sinnoh region spring forth and endear itself to players again.
If something like this were to happen, it would be interesting to see how the games grow and change. It would lead to a wider number of Pokémon being available in the Gen VIII sphere of games, potentially supplementing Sword & Shield’s line up of species. Sinnoh was also a pioneer when it came to exploration and player connectivity, with its sprawling Underground and the original Global Trade Station standing out. Turning the Underground (and perhaps other areas for the sake of variety) into a sort of Wild Area would be an interesting take on the concept, while the GTS building could be repurposed into who-knows-what.
Most importantly though, it’s about preserving and redelivering the experience of the original Gen IV games. Sinnoh has a very distinct and culturally rich vibe compared to most other regions and there’s a lot to be gained from a story perspective by developing those aspects further. Questions about Arceus, Dialga, Palkia, and Giratina are potentially huge for Poké-metaphysics; and Team Galactic’s tendencies and motives could contrast the more grounded (at least ’til the end) narrative of Sword & Shield nicely.
Might solve a Mystery, or rewrite fistory
All of the above concerns the core Pokémon series, which is sure to get some focus be it what we’ve hypothesized — or something more surprising could come. Side games though, are where we could see some real jaw-droppers. Fans have been clamoring for Pokémon Snap 2 since the Wii U, and while it doesn’t lean as gimmicky in your hands, the Switch could still pull it off. Please pull it off…
Less pipe dreamy and more thought out though is the possibility of returning to a different, beloved side game that’d fit well in handheld and on screen. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon hasn’t seen an entry since 2015, where Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon released on 3DS and only featured Pokemon up to Gen VI. Imagine palling around dungeons with a Rowlet or putting Scorbunny to task as your partner — not to mention the other 100+ Pokémon that could be featured in such a return.
There’s also the matter of Pokkén Tournament getting a potential sequel. While the game never reached the Evo Grand Finals hype of its parent series Tekken, 3D fighters are still a less represented genre on Switch. Tekken 7 continues to elude the system, so Bandai Namco, The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo could partner up to further flesh out their co-effort. More than just adding new Pokémon and bringing it to Switch as Pokkén Tournament DX did, this is a chance to stick with what worked and adjust what didn’t — while also adding new Pokémon.
Take it all Home
Perhaps the most likely thing to appear during this Pokémon Direct is word on Pokémon Home. The service will bring a surge of connectivity to the Switch and beyond, letting Pokémon GO, Sword & Shield, the 3DS titles, and the Let’s Go! titles exist in the same space and hopefully pairing to the earlier mentioned (potential) Galar Dex expansion and beyond.
Sadly, I fully expect Pokémon Home to be a premium service as Pokémon Bank was. How much it’ll cost though, as well as any potential family plans or co-promotion with Nintendo Switch Online or other existing apps, remains to be seen. There’s also the matter of Pokémon Sleep, which we haven’t heard about since its announcement, and the sequel to Detective Pikachu (the game, not the movie).
There’s no telling what we’ll see until we see it, but hopefully some of our wants and possibilities come to pass. The more surprises the better though, so be sure to tune in at 6:30 a.m. PT on January 9th for all the breaking details from this Pokémon Direct.
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