Why, oh why.
Yesterday’s Pokemon Direct gave fans a couple new announcements to get excited for, however, another wasn’t quite what everyone was expecting. Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are updated versions of the original games, with new Pokemon, a new story, and some additional features. Of course, everyone had been hoping we might see the rumored Pokemon Stars for Switch, but alas, Ultra Sun and Moon are coming exclusively to the 3DS family of systems.
It’s a bit of a surprising decision for two reasons really. First off, Pokemon Sun and Moon only released about eight months ago, and secondly, the games aren’t coming to the Switch in any way. It does seem strange that we’re receiving new iterations of Sun and Moon so close to the release of the original titles, especially seeing as they’re on the exact same console.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the Pokemon series has done some kind of updated experience. Pokemon Black and White 2 were technically direct sequels to the first games, but functioned very much as updated experiences instead, with new Pokemon and a new story. However, those games were a good two years apart, whereas Ultra Sun and Moon will only be releasing one year after their original titles. We’ll need to find out more about the games of course, but right now it seems like there’s little incentive for someone who played Sun and Moon to drop another $40 on these upcoming titles.
This would all make a lot more sense if Ultra Sun and Moon were coming to Nintendo Switch, which would absolutely be the perfect place. The Switch has exploded in popularity since its release, with many still unable to find a system due to stock shortages. With sales rising more and more, a new Pokemon game on the Switch is sure to sell incredibly well. Combine this with the fact that Sun and Moon quickly became some of the best-selling Pokemon games of all time, and you have what seems to be a smash hit in the making. Of course, the portable nature of the Switch also makes it accessible for a handheld title like Pokemon.
Fans were definitely overjoyed when rumors of a Pokemon Stars on Nintendo Switch started popping up, and putting the game in a place where more people can play it certainly isn’t a bad thing. At the very least, consumers would appreciate the option of picking up the title on whichever console they want, and that option of playing it at home on a TV or on a handheld is certainly a big one. Additionally, you want each of your flagship series to be as open to as many people as possible, especially when it’s something as big as Pokemon.
We’ve seen before that Pokemon has the potential to draw in players like no other series, and although Pokken Tournament heading to Switch is big on its own, a mainline entry like Ultra Sun and Moon has even more pull. There’s also the potential for another strong holiday title with the games, bolstering Nintendo’s lineup alongside Mario Odyssey. The Switch certainly has some impressive titles already with more on the way, but its library isn’t impressive enough yet to not benefit significantly from mainline Pokemon titles.
At the same time, most Pokemon games we’ve received have been on 3DS, limited by the technical power of the handheld. It’d be great to see the series gorgeously rendered on the Switch and more vibrant than ever before. With Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, it doesn’t need to be some drastic overhaul, but even a slight visual upgrade would be enough to convince many players to repurchase the game on Switch, and realize Alola better than ever before.
In truth, Ultra Sun and Moon really feel like they should be Switch games, with enhanced features. After all, the new titles aren’t direct sequels or anything, but the original games loaded up with new content. It seems like a sure fit for the new system, and at the moment feels like nothing more than a double-dip on the fanbase that already bought the games on 3DS. There’s really no reason for Nintendo not to port the game over to Switch, while also releasing it on 3DS, at least giving consumers who don’t own a 3DS the chance to pick up Sun and Moon, and experience them.
This seems even more puzzling considering the recently announced Switch version of Monster Hunter XX. The title is releasing on both the new console and 3DS, even supporting cross-play and transferable saves. Doing the same with Sun and Moon, and maybe giving players the option of moving over their Pokemon or batting 3DS owners, only make updated ports releasing on the Switch even more appealing. Clearly, the ability to do so is there considering Monster Hunter XX.
Adding cross-play support would also help assuage any fears people might have of Nintendo ending the 3DS’ support. Obviously, there are new games on the way for the 3DS, but putting cross-play into a series like Pokemon would show that Nintendo is absolutely serious about the two platforms coexisting.
Of course, a brand new Pokemon game on Switch is the best thing Nintendo could give fans, but we’ll no doubt be waiting a while for that, so it’d be nice to have something else to fill that time. Even with Sun and Moon already being released on 3DS, the titles sold immensely well on the system, and a fresh port for Switch is sure to finally convince a few new fans to jump on board with Nintendo’s new consoles. We’ve already seen high enthusiasm and success for ports of other games so far, particularly Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the recently announced Pokken Tournament DX.
Even if Ultra Sun and Moon didn’t add on a pile of new features, it’s still something to fill the gap between a big new 3D Pokemon title on Switch, and Nintendo’s other prominent series. Fans would, no doubt, be happy to drop a few dollars on an updated version if it lets them get their Pokemon fix on Switch. The best option would have been for Nintendo to release Ultra Sun and Moon on Switch and at least announce a brand new Pokemon game in the works, just so fans can pick up a game while they have something new and fresh to look forward to on the horizon.
Hopefully, as we find out more about Ultra Sun and Moon there’ll be enough to differentiate them from the original games. Even still, it just seems baffling that Nintendo wouldn’t at least go for a simultaneous release on Switch as well as 3DS, opening the games up to an ever wider fan base and capitalizing on the console’s success. Of course, only time will tell if the new additions and different story will be drastic enough to make people pick up Ultra Sun and Moon.
The good news is Pokemon fans have Pokken Tournament DX to look forward to on Switch, but it looks like they’ll have to wait just a bit longer to get a traditional experience on the system.