Classic Pokémon Games Deserve A Nintendo Switch Port
Each generation in the Pokémon series has introduced notable characters, stories, and species that have become a major part of the entire franchise. Iconic characters like Red and Blue from Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow continue to make appearances in recent games and media, while features like Dynamax in Sword and Shield put a fresh spin on classic battle mechanics. However, Pokémon has always struggled with a major setback. Every few generations of the Pokémon series new consoles release, creating an issue with the playability of older titles. Because of this, many classic entries of the main Pokémon games would benefit from being ported to modern consoles like the Nintendo Switch.
During 2016, Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow were officially ported to the Nintendo 3Ds. These titles were followed by Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal in 2017 and 2018. The ports brought the games forward from the Game Boy and Game Boy Color, allowing those unable to obtain the older consoles and vintage game cartridges to replay, or experience for the first time, the beginning of the Pokémon series. However, the release of the ports overlapped with the release of the Nintendo Switch, which eventually overtook the 3Ds as Nintendo’s primary console, again locking the titles to an outdated system.
One of the potential reasons Nintendo and Game Freak have done little to port older titles in the Pokémon series could be due to the prevalence of remakes in the franchise. The first three Pokémon generations have each received remakes since the original launches, with Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl adding the fourth generation as well when the games release this fall. However, many of the remakes have also fallen victim to the struggles of outdated systems, with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire being the most recent true remakes on the now-retired 3DS. Some remakes, like Leaf Green and Fire Red, even date back as far as 2006. Due to this, Nintendo would need to release a third round of remakes to update these games to current console capabilities.
Of the eight generations currently available in the Pokémon series, Pokémon X and Y would be among some of the most exciting titles to receive a potential port to the Nintendo Switch. The Kalos region introduced many mechanics that have become popular in subsequent installations to the series, including enhanced battle mechanics like Mega Evolutions, character customization, and heavier importance on Pokémon NPC involvement in the narrative. Pokémon X and Y were released in 2013 for the Nintendo 3DS, during the transition from the well-known pixelated graphics and sprites of the original games to the widespread use of 3D art and models in more recent titles. Because of this, the art and gameplay would likely hold up well on the Nintendo Switch, with minimal changes needed to be enjoyable.
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire reimagined the Hoenn region, utilizing updated graphics and enhanced gameplay, without losing the charms of the Hoenn from the original titles. Released after Pokémon X and Y, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire integrated Mega Evolution as a major component of the remakes. New Mega-capable Pokémon were introduced to the original list from X and Y, as well as the Primal versions of each game’s Legendary mascot.
To add to this, the graphics style made side activities like secret bases and contests even more fun to engage in. Because Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released on the Nintendo 3Ds, they would likely also do well porting to the wider screen and better performance of the Nintendo Switch.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the remakes of Diamond and Pearl released in 2006, will be available to play for the Nintendo Switch on November 19, 2021. Nintendo has teased gameplay, revealing a colorful reimaging of the classic Sinnoh region, as well as updated battle mechanics and additional features. While it isn’t yet known if the remakes will be as true to the originals as past full remakes have been, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl would benefit from Switch ports of the original games before the release of the remake.
Originally released for the Nintendo DS, Diamond and Pearl are among the many Pokémon games that have become hard to find due to the passage of time. Nintendo hasn’t rereleased physical copies of past Pokémon games, making the original copies the only ones available. While Diamond and Pearl are technically playable on the Nintendo 3DS due to backward compatibility with the previous DS systems, many fans of the series may find their original cartridges have been lost, have stopped working, or perhaps the players never had the chance to purchase the games upon their original release.
Because of this, those who never had the chance to play Diamond and Pearl may actually miss out on the enormity of certain features being revitalized in the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes. While playing the previous games won’t be necessary to understand the plot and basic gameplay, often times the enjoyment of remakes comes from comparing the original title with updated features. By releasing ports of Diamond and Pearl, players will be able to build excitement with a playthrough of the original games, which could help encourage more Pokémon fans to purchase Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl before they release via preorders on Nintendo’s store.
While there are many games that would do well with ports to the Nintendo Switch, older games would, unfortunately, be a challenge to rerelease. The low resolution for small screens and limited graphics of vintage systems like the Game Boy and Nintendo DS would require extensive updates to be playable on the Nintendo Switch. Without these improvements, the original titles would be limited to just inches of the Nintendo Switch screen, and they would likely be unplayable on the TV when the Switch is docked. Because of this, releasing ports of these older titles would take Nintendo away from new Pokémon projects. Because of this, it seems unlikely outdated titles will see Switch editions any time soon.