When I was growing up, I loved Pokémon. As did the majority of my friends, class mates and peers. There were a few people who didn’t play with Pokémon cards, and they were pretty much ostracised for a time, at my school. For those of us who did play with Pokémon cards, we were obsessed… well… I was at least. I watched the TV show, I enjoyed the films, I collected the cards and I played the games. That was twenty years ago now – doesn’t time fly. Since then, we’ve had well over twenty iterations of ‘pure’ Pokémon games, plus tons of Pokémon related titles. There’s been 19 seasons of Pokemon episodes, around 19 movies and over 720 individual Pokémon. That’s an awful lot of content. But, it’s still going, and we’re now being dealt re-relases of some of the original games, along with a mobile app AND a game where Pikachu is a detective… because, why not? So it leads me to ask the question, is 20 years of Pokémon enough?
I won’t deny it, if they were to release an RPG Pokémon game on consoles, I would snap it up immediately. If it looked like the sort of RPG that I’m currently imagining, I’d even buy a WiiU just to play it. But I wouldn’t rush out to buy the next iteration of the series, as it currently stands; Pokémon Moon Dust and Mars Crater… or whatever the hell they’re going to call the next two in the series. I switched off to those a long time ago – probably around Pokémon Leaf Green. Perhaps it was because I grew up a little, though I’d be more inclined to suggest that it’s down to the fact that each game is so repetitive; they just never really mixed up the format.
I couldn’t tell you how popular the franchise truly is these days, though the fact that they’re still releasing games and making actual Pokémon would suggest that it’s at least relatively well liked. I doubt very much, however, that it has the following that it did when my generation first experienced it as kids, 20 years ago. So I wonder if it’s time for Nintendo to go one of two ways. Option one would be to really mix things up, and make a more ‘adult’, updated, Pokémon RPG (like the original hand-held titles, but on a larger scale) which would appeal to my generation, and potentially re-ignite the passion that we once had for the franchise. Ideally this would be a cross platform title, available on all consoles and computers, but I can’t see Nintendo giving up on their consoles just quite yet. So an alternative would be to make this game a heavy hitter for the WiiU – much like the new Zelda title, which is currently in development for the console, is proposed to be.
Their second option would be to continue to make the handheld versions of the game, which I imagine are slowly losing steam, as well as creating random side-projects (like the mobile app and detective Pikachu) until eventually Pokémon fades into obscurity, and nobody will give a rat’s arse. Personally, I’d opt for option one, but that’s because I’ve been dreaming of an updated RPG Pokémon game for some time now.
20 years is indeed a long time, particularly for a franchise, and I take my hat off to those behind its stellar run. But sometimes, I think it’s best for a franchise to gracefully bow out – to take the applause and leave the stage behind. I’d much rather be looking back on these past 20 years thinking “wow, Pokémon was really great, wasn’t it”, as opposed to looking back in 30 years thinking “Christ, that’s still going?”. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!