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To the Moon and Back: Where Should ‘Pokémon’ Go Now?



Pokémon Sun and Moon mark the second new generation of Pokémon introduced on the Nintendo 3DS and the third overall generation featured on the handheld, matching the long-winded DS run. While the DS featured more Pokémon games overall (a staggering nine total main series games), Sun and Moon pushed the franchise further than it’s ever been pushed, expanding upon the concept of what a Pokémon game could be, and all but pushing the 3DS hardware to its limit. All of this to say that with consideration that Nintendo has new, portable hardware on the market, Pokémon’s time on the 3DS is presumably drawing to a close. In a post-Pokémon Sun and Moon world, where do Game Freak and the Pokémon Company take the franchise next?

To the Switch

The Nintendo Switch is the most obvious answer, and the one most Poké-fans seem to be clamoring for. Admittedly, Game Freak has been historically slow to adopt new hardware, waiting for a console to prove itself before developing a main series Pokémon game for it (though this could just be that the games are developed slowly). The Game Boy Advance had been on the market a year before the release of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire, and both the DS and 3DS had been two years on the market before a Pokémon game was released on each respectively. Despite Sun and Moon seemingly utilizing the 3DS to the full extent of the hardware’s capabilities, it may be a while before Game Freak and TPCi (the Pokémon Company international) develop for the Switch, assuming the Switch is the future of Nintendo’s portable market, which is a safe bet.

“Look Upon the Stars:” hint from Japan’s Pokémon Center or simply a cool Cosmog theme?

Nintendo has been doing their part. The Switch is off to a stellar start, selling over 2.74 million units in under a month according to Nintendo’s end-of-the-year earnings report back in April. While that’s a far cry away from the 3DS’ 66 million units on the market, that’s a very promising beginning for a new console, a console that would undoubtedly sell better with new Pokémon software on it. It’s understandable that Game Freak might not want to abandon the 3DS ship just yet, as more hardware means more potential sales. Even with the higher cost of software on the Switch, it will be some time before a Switch exclusive Pokémon game can even be as profitable as a 3DS-exclusive one – after all, how can a new game sell 13 million units like Sun and Moon when there aren’t 13 million Switch consoles out there? Even if Nintendo’s estimations about 10 million Switch units on the market by the end of the next sales year prove true, that would still involve a massive install rate of 86% for a Switch-exclusive Pokémon entry to be as profitable as Sun and Moon.

Perhaps the best solution initially is a non-exclusive, main series entry on the Switch. Recently, Capcom held its Monster Hunter Championship 2017, at which they announced a Switch version of Monster Hunter XX, an already-announced 3DS title in a massively successful franchise, particularly in Japan, which immediately impacted Nintendo’s gradually-rising stock in a positive way. Capcom continued to reveal that the title would feature 3DS and Switch cross-play online, as well as allow players to transfer their save data between versions. Perhaps this is the exact format Pokémon can take with its next entry, allowing early adopters of the Switch to utilize their new console, while also not abandoning the established fanbase on the 3DS. This could serve as an excellent way to bridge the gap between the platforms, while simultaneously promoting the new console and new direction the franchise is headed, and maybe even result in extra sales for those interested in owning the title on two platforms. This could prove especially reassuring for Pokémon fans who continually have to wonder whether their collections will be lost with the transition into a new console, not to mention fulfill the longtime dream of many fans wishing for a home console main series game.

Back to the Beginning   

Developing on new hardware may alleviate a lot of the restrictions of developing for an older, more limited console. It may also take more time. Game Freak’s tendency has been to introduce a new generation of Pokémon as their first effort on a new console, meaning that a Switch exclusive, main series Pokémon game is probably still a ways into the future. Hopefully this trend is set to change, as I don’t think the new Pokémon from Moon and Sun have gotten their due sunlight – er, spotlight. Lately, according to game director Junichi Masuda, Game Freak has been trying to defy expectations, foregoing “Pokémon Grey” in favor of Black 2 and White 2, and then again by skipping the expected Pokémon Z after and Y, instead leaping straight into a new generation. By once more avoiding the norm, Game Freak could give themselves more time to develop a Switch-exclusive generation. Should Game Freak truly want to bide their time before developing for the Switch at all, or whether they want to use the Monster Hunter XX formula and offer relatively the same experience on the 3DS (with a higher resolution experience on the Switch), the next game should again avoid the typical third version status quo (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, Platinum) and instead be a proper sequel, though less like Black 2 and White 2 and more like Gold and Silver.

The Alola region.

Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver operate as direct sequels to BlueRed, and Yellow (RBY), featuring all new Pokémon while offering the player the unique opportunity to not only become a Pokémon master in the new Johto region, but to then travel to Kanto and master that region as well, making for unforgettable experiences that may be the franchise’s best to date. While other entries featured more Pokémon overall, GoldSilver, and Crystal are still the only entries to allow players to travel between regions. While I don’t think the sequel to Sun and Moon needs to feature any new Pokémon like Generation Two (beyond the expected, mythical, distribution Pokémon), allowing players to traverse the new Hawaii-themed Alola region – as well as maybe another – might make it a memorable standout in a long-running franchise, truly offering players a reason to buy in again. And what better direction to head than back to the beginning, to Kanto, where it all began with RedBlue, and Yellow.

*WARNING: Slight Spoilers Ahead!*

This move isn’t without precedent.  PokéSun and PokéMoon (I’m getting tired of typing out all of these names) were developed as part of Pokémon’s twentieth anniversary and featured countless callbacks to the original games, including recurring characters, Pokémon from the original generation, redesigns of some of those same Pokémon, and more. At the beginning of the game, the protagonist moved from Kanto, and in the end, Lillie, another essential character, moves to Kanto to help her family. Like Gold and Silver, the sequel to Sun and Moon (“Stars,” “Eclipse,” “Black Hole,” “Super Massive Black Hole,” or whatever it ends up being called) should allow players to play through Alola, encountering the characters of Sun and Moon before shipping the player off to Kanto to meet Lillie and the original cast from RBY. In that way, players would get the pleasure of seeing old favorite games running on current engines, and Sun and Moon could continue their celebration of twenty-plus years of Pokémon in the strongest fashion, while still subverting expectation of what a third version should be.

Back to Sinnoh

An alternative to all of this is to develop remakes to Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. Since Game Freak remade Red and Blue (or Green in Japan) with FireRed and LeafGreen on the Game Boy Advance, there’s been an expectation that all generations would get a remake in due time, an expectation that has been upheld by Game Freak, most recently with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire on the 3DS back in 2014. Over ten years after the initial release of the DS’ Diamond and Pearl, nine years after the release of the fourth generation’s “third version,” Platinum, three years after the latest remake, and a year after the most recent generation, I think the world is ready to return to the Sinnoh region.

The gap between the DS’ first original generation, Diamond and Pearl, and the 3DS’ and Y is enough of an expanse both technologically and design-wise to justify a remake. Remaking the fourth generation of Pokémon in the manner of the seventh would make it feel like an entirely new game. Though featuring a more polygonal world, Diamond and Pearl operate more like the pinnacle of the standard, top-down, grid-style game – not a far cry from Red and Blue‘s overworld gameplay. Though less animated than those in Black and White, Diamond and Pearl feature Pokémon sprites at their height – crisp, clean, and incredibly detailed, something lost with the extra animation of Black and White‘s sprites. The world of and Y, though sprite-like, was fully rendered in 3D, and battles featured Pokémon fully rendered with clean polygonal graphics, adding new dimension.

My money is on Tina. The dude is a freak!

Sun and Moon took things to an entirely different level, with a richly-detailed world, fully rendered in 3D, and the same art style both in battle and out. The overworld and gorgeously-detailed battle animations of Sun and Moon make it feel like the home console Pokémon game fans have always dreamed of. Remaking Ruby and Sapphire in the manor of and Y was a treat that reshaped my opinions of the generation, not unlike a Pupitar becoming a Tyranitar (who’s way cooler than Salamence, the ideal comparison in this situation since it’s generationally relevant – but whatever, screw Salamence). Remaking Diamond and Pearl to be anything remotely near Sun and Moon would be like evolving Magikarp into a Gyarados – staggeringly new and breathtakingly rad.

This goes without mentioning all of the new features that hadn’t made their debut by the fourth generation of Pokémon, including Fairy Pokémon, Mega Evolutions, and the more recent Z-Moves and SOS System, where wild Pokémon can call for allies. I’d love to see the Sinnoh starters receive Mega Evolutions, and Palkia and Dialga become even more menacingly powerful. Equally as enthralling would be returning to Platinum’s Distortion World, perhaps in a sequence like Alpha Sapphire, Omega Ruby‘s Delta Episode, now rendered in full 3D. Or, perhaps Game Freak can continue their subversion of expectation, and the sequel to Sun and Moon will be remakes of Diamond and Pearl where players play through Alola and then travel to Sinnoh, or vice versa. Giratina Origin and Altered forms, and Shaymin’s Sky and Land forms, will have different Mega Evolutions (and I’m totally kidding – that’d be more garbage than Garbador). Still, a remake of Diamond and Pearl could be more spectacular than the stones they’re named for!


Finally, the Pokémon franchise needs proper DLC. In a world where Zelda has a season pass, there’s little to no excuse not to make memorable expansions for Pokémon titles. During the Diamond and Pearl era, Pokémon distributions triggered cool in-game events, like saving a child plagued by nightmares by encountering Darkrai on New Moon Island, or the event Key Items that triggered other memorable events, including the elusive Azure Flute, which was never actually distributed, granting players access to Arceus. Arceus then in turn generated another event in HeartGold/SoulSilver in which players could create a Giratina, Palkia, or Dialga. Bizarre? Yes, but incredibly unique and rewarding. Finally, players had to work for a Victini in Black and White, rather than hopping online and simply downloading it, or worse, going to GameStop to get a code. No one wants to do that, Game Freak and TPCi!

Original Darkrai distribution artwork. Pleasant dreams!

Personally, I’m tired of simple distribution Pokémon, especially those dropped at level 100. I want meaningful experiences that extend gameplay, and I want Pokémon that I can train up and truly make my own. I want unique events, like encountering Darkrai on an eerie island or battling my way to Victini. I want alluring post-game content, like in Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby‘s Delta Episode or Sun and Moon‘s Ultra Beast missions, with the promise of more to come, more adventures, more to catch, and more to train. That’s what it means to be a Pokémon trainer, right? Hopefully that’s a trend that begins with the announced-but-not-released Marshadow, the only known mythical Pokémon for Sun and Moon, and one that I’d like to continue as Game Freak makes the inevitable switch to the Nintendo Switch.

Regardless if the future of the franchise is remakes, sequels, new adventures, or extensions of other adventures, I’m excited for the future of Pokémon. Hopefully that future isn’t too far away, though it’s unlikely anything will get revealed at E3 2017, as the Pokémon Company tends to operate completely separately from the rest of Nintendo. But who knows how far away the future is? There’s already rumors about tomorrow’s eight minute Pokémon Direct. What could that mean? More details on Marshadow? The release of Detective Pikachu for the rest of the world? In the case of the general future of Pokémon and the Direct both, only time will tell. In either case, after Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, the future of the franchise is brighter than ever.

Tim is not the droids you are looking for. He resides quietly in the Emerald City where he can often be found writing, reading, watching movies, or playing video games. He is the Xbox editor for Goomba Stomp and the site's official Pokémon Master.

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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.



It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child



Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.



Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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