Slightly Subverted Expectations


In regards to all the recent Directs from Nintendo, Sony, and The Pokémon Company this week, it’s a bit like there would have been a small trade show in this space, except I’m not sure I’ve heard much from Microsoft or Ubisoft in some time anyway.

The first one this week, Nintendo Direct. I already summarized it: There was another sword user for Smash, this time from Xenoblade 2, a full-price re-release of Skyward Sword, a bunch of indie stuff and ports including some weird card demon slasher game from the Donut County developers, DLC for Hyrule Warriors, and Splatoon 3. Also some updates on games already announced. It was very much a Direct. Not the Direct people wanted, though. They always want Nintendo to come out with the Sexbox 9000 that runs Mario 64 Remake in 69K. If they don’t get that, they’ll boycott Nintendo for a week.

Then the Sony Direct. Yeah, not much happened there. Literally one new game announced that I can recall, the rest were either updates or re-stating things or upgrading things. And that one new game of course falls into the camp of “it’s also coming to PC, but on that crappy store nobody likes aside from getting free crap”, among several other previously announced PS5 things. I’m not sure how closely Sony is working with that store, but for all we know maybe there is some back alley kind of deal going on there to connect PS5 stuff with that PC store, yet it’s not making every single PC release of a game on PlayStation adhere to it either. It seems like games that were on PS4 before are coming to multiple PC stores, or at least two stores, but PS5 ones may be locked to one. If I manage to find anything about this I’ll probably end up bringing it up.

Last, the Pokémon Direct. I’ll say that I was at least a bit surprised there. Aside from the retrospective taking up a good chunk of the runtime, there was hardly anything to do with mobile, just some mentions here and there. Not even that MOBA. Maybe they’ll dedicate a whole Direct to that later on. This one though reminded me I somehow forgot about “NEW” Pokémon Snap that is not on the “NEW” Nintendo 3DS. It looks like Pokémon Snap, but instead of smelly poison orbs it involves throwing glowy magic orbs. I still hope you can smack monsters in the face with apples, or I think they called those “Fluff Fruit”. Because you can’t have real-world apples in Pokémon despite literally having apple-based monsters at this point.

The big news was the fans being way too hyped about remakes. Well, they’re doing Sinnoh remakes. Now shut up and buy them. That’s really how it felt about the remakes. I figured to not look forward to the Sinnoh remakes because I’d think they’d find a way to cheap out on it or make everyone disappointed. It looks like it’s being outsourced to a studio that seems to work on either mobile type products or provide support for larger games, and it looks like it’ll be an extremely faithful remake, at least. It actually looks a bit like a Let’s Go game, but with even shorter field models closer to the DS sprites. It just doesn’t have the crazy motion controls Let’s Go had. It also reminds me of the weird concurrent remake that was announced for phones of the whole Final Fantasy 7 canon, which also looks very faithful to the PS1 game with updated visuals, but also will somehow include a bunch of other games. For all I know that has a better chance at doing things.

Then there was actual big news. All that speculation and alleged leaking of an open-world style Pokémon adventure in full, normally the kind of thing someone would pass off as just people getting way too hyped, even with people going as far to render out full 3D mockups? It turns out they’re making a game like that, taking place in the founding time in Sinnoh. And it looks… crusty. Interesting, but crusty. For having a target date of early next year, it could really use some fixing up, particularly in the framerates of just about anything moving. Also, the distant land looks pretty rough, like I think I’ve seen more interesting distant land in 360-era Bethesda games. I don’t entirely dig the “Unity fan game concept made in a month before it got lawyered to death” style here, and maybe the right stylizing could save the visuals, but it’s not a saving throw for the game itself if the gameplay doesn’t hold up. It’s a cool idea, though, and they picked an oddly high-ranking selection of starters that I might have a bit of trouble picking between, I guess resulting from not yet having the ones from Sinnoh according to the story. They didn’t even have any Kanto ones in there. Between “NEW” Snap and this Legends thing, maybe they got the message about focusing way too much on Kanto monsters. I’ll say I’m at least interested in finding out more, and hopefully they know how to actually optimize the game this time, or have a studio on hand that knows how to get things to run on the Switch. Speaking of crusty, trying to watch the video on YouTube kept breaking and I’m not sure what was going wrong there. I thought the video got cut off mid-sentence somehow, despite being a premiere instead of a stream, but that was just the player breaking.

Long story short, keeping expectations low can help in some way, I guess. I still don’t know about feeling much for the open world Pokémon game, if it will just end up being like Wild Area The Game without much other stuff in the region to explore or even helping out the landing village, and if the game can run above 20 FPS and have a further character draw distance than Sword and Shield. I also wonder if they’ll ever unify the selection of clothing and hairstyles for any trainer instead of having them be gender-locked, like New Leaf did some time ago. Even Splatoon and potatoes are moving away from that idea. It’s a boon for character customization and can be considered pretty inclusive as well. I think the next big step for a lot of these games is to have more skin tones, ideally the full spectrum of colors can be chosen and picked from, so you can go for any real existing tone or just bright fuchsia if you like. Hair color too, I think there were cases in Sword and Shield with certain characters having hair color that was inaccessible to the player.

I was also wondering if they’d try moving their big games off of just the Switch and target mobile or even PC, but I guess as airtight as they want to keep games where Pokémon can be caught and traded and such, maybe not PC at least. Also maybe there’s some contractual thing with Nintendo. I’ve mentioned being tired of exclusives in any case, and that would only get more tiring once games move onto just the PS5 and Sexbox after 10 more people get one who aren’t just trying to sell them for drug money.