The Wii U Pokemon RPG: can we have it now, Nintendo?

By Dave Cook, Monday, 19 May 2014 08:17 GMT

Nintendo fans have been dreaming of a fully-3D Pokemon RPG for years now, and something company president Satoru Iwata said has Dave thinking that the time is probably right for gamers to get their wish.

It started last week, when Iwata told analysts not to worry about how slowly the Wii U is selling, because sales of the original Game Boy didn’t explode until Pokemon Red and Blue hit the scene.

Wait, what?

Since Iwata’s statement went public, I’ve seen a lot of gamers say that if this truly is the case, then why doesn’t Nintendo commission a core Pokemon RPG for Wii U to help boost sales? It seems to make perfect sense at face-value.

But there’s no guarantee that a game like this would become a guaranteed system-seller, or even a hugely profitable release for Nintendo, but I’m willing to bet that there’s enough people out there who would happily invest in the console just for a full Pokemon title.

The pieces fit, and Nintendo’s actually in a good position to make this happen. Here’s why…

Mario_kart_8

Because Mario Kart 8 exists

As I said in my Mario Kart 8 review, Nintendo’s new racer is a lovely-looking game that wouldn’t look out of place on PS4 or Xbox One. Sure, yes, it’s not up there with the likes of Killzone: Shadow Fall or Ryse: Son of Rome, but it’s still proof that the company can pull big-scale, technical wizardry out of the hat when it wants to.

Now obviously, a big Pokemon RPG would require some serious visual and mechanical grunt under the hood, but Mario Kart 8 is proof that the Wii U isn’t as outmoded as some gamers believe. Could it handle an open-world version of Kalos without sacrificing that quality? That’s up for discussion of course.

If Nintendo or Game Freak applied Mario Kart 8’s clean, almost Pixar-esque presentation to the format, it wouldn’t need to pump the open world full of intricate textures or shiny effects at the behest of performance. Just keep it colourful and interesting while delivering that consistently superb Nintendo gameplay, and the rest will surely follow.

wii_u_console

Because the price is (almost) right

I can go on Amazon right now and buy a black 32GB Wii U console and Mario Kart 8 for £239.86. That’s still quite expensive for many, but the inclusion of Mario Kart 8 makes for a compelling argument. In my humblest of opinions, it’s worth getting the machine for that game, but I appreciate that we’re all into different things.

Still, that price keeps getting lower, and we regularly see retailers having flash sales or knocking a few more quick off Wii U, so it’s entirely possible to pick one up for less if you’re patient. If you’re still worried about there being a lack of big games to justify your purchase, there’s always big-hitters like Super Smash Bros, Bayonetta 2, Monolith’s ‘X’ a well as new Mario and Zelda titles to consider.

With all of the above in mind, if people really, really want a full Pokemon game for Wii U, then you’d have to figure that the price is reasonable enough for them to finally invest, but again, I’m being diplomatic here. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s still mad-pricey. If so, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter below.

wii_u_miiverse

Because Nintendo finally understands online

While it’s no Xbox Live or PSN, Nintendo has shown with Wii U and 3DS that it’s getting to grips with the notion of slick online experiences. MiiVerse is a neat idea, and while friend codes are still clunky compared to simple gamertags, the point is that Wii U can deliver the kind of online play befitting a large Pokemon RPG. Better yet, why not make it a hybrid between MMO and RPG with lots of other trainers running around like phantoms in Dark Souls? It’d make the world feel alive and populous.

Then of course there’s the potential for an engaging and competitive battle mode which is, of course, the real meat of the Pokemon brand for many people. With the increased power of Wii U over 3DS behind the combat mechanic, you can get a feel for just how cinematic and visually-arresting those encounters would be on the big screen. But then again, many people like Pokemon on handhelds because they can take the fight anywhere. Well, I’ve had a think about that too.

nintendo_figurine_platform

Because of this NFC device for 3DS

This is the new near-field communication device for Nintendo 3DS. It will enable gamers to scan figurines into their handheld and then transfer the data between it and the Wii U. Speculation going around the internet today suggests that this could have something to do with rumoured Pokemon battle game Pokken Fighters, but nothing is certain for now. It’s similar to how Skylanders and Disney Infinity function.

It’s not a leap to suggest that Nintendo releasing a line of collectible Pokemon figures that could be scanned into the 3DS or Wii U then made to do battle would be a license to print money. I suggested as much in this blog. This could even work with a full console Pokemon RPG if it launched alongside a 3DS battle game.

That way gamers could still have that portable fighting and trading experience, but they’d collect Pokemon in the full game, or by scanning them in using action figures on the 3DS NFC device. Think of it in terms of Super Smash Bros. and the way the Wii U and 3DS games interact and feature different content and you can start to see how some sort of hyrbid experience like this might work. Would it work? I’m not so sure, but it’d be potentially disruptive and lucrative for Nintendo.

ni-no-kuni

Because Ni No Kuni was brilliant

Aside from the process of capturing Pokemon, Level-5’s PS3 smash Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch had a lot in common with Game Freak’s series. It saw a young boy called Oliver and his pals battling enemies with his troupe of summoned creatures, which could be nurtured and evolved by feeding them treats and levelling through battle.

It was both colourful and whimsical thanks to Studio Ghibli’s distinct aesthetic, and stands as perhaps the best modern example of what a full Pokemon RPG might look like. While it looked lovely in motion, it didn’t require the pinnacle of visual tech to run thanks to its block colours and cartoon style. Again, Game Freak wouldn’t have to load this thing full of stupidly detailed textures or other graphical highlights, just keep it clean and befitting of the series.

pokemonblackandwhiteseason

Because it would be awesome

I get the feeling a lot of people still look down on Pokemon as a simplistic play-thing for children. It’s really not. In truth, these games are deep, engrossing RPGs that suck you in with their addictive capturing mechanic and endearing worlds. Consider just how attractive and engaging the top-down handheld entries are, now imagine just how amplified those qualities could be in a 3D setting.

It’s an attractive prospect, but basically taking the format and dropping it into the third-person wouldn’t be enough. Nintendo and Game Freak know it’s not that simple. Both companies have been saying that Pokemon just feels right on handheld, given the nature of its sharing and battle mechanics. That’s not to say these components couldn’t be made to work in tandem with 3DS, or perhaps there’s some new method of play that’s going overlooked as a result of this reluctance.

This is a tricky problem, and falls into the same ballpark as the Final Fantasy 7 remake. Just how do you bring something so revered into the modern age while still retaining those initial qualities? It’d be a daunting task fraught with danger, but I have faith that Nintendo could pull it off.

In the end, we’ve seen enough Pokemon fans over the years calling out for a full 3D entry to the series and right now, at a time where Nintendo needs to make back a significant deal of money, it should be listening and catering to those requests. The question is, what would that end-product look like?

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