Opinion: Can Pokemon save the Wii U? [PART 1]
Editor’s Note: The Wii U Daily team have had several internal discussions about the recent announcement of Pokemon X and Y for the 3DS. We’ve been back and forth about what a full-fledged Pokemon release could do for the Wii U and we want your thoughts. Part 1 features speculation on what the Pokemon franchise would be like as well as what it would do to revive Nintendo’s sales of the Wii U. Part 2 will feature a more fleshed out Wii U Pokemon concept according to what the team would like to see. Stay tuned!
Let’s face it. Wii U sales are not what they could be. As the launch period comes to an end, the games used to fuel it begin to wane in their reception. Consumers all but await the promise of new Nintendo software, and for some of us, not just any software, but something we’ve all been longing for. Something… familiar and ground-breaking all at once. Something like… Pokemon.
With the recent and sudden announcement of Pokemon X and Y, this prospect seems unlikely, but not impossible. Think about the potential sales, the high definition textures, the possibilities with Miiverse and the GamePad, and the combined appeal to consumers the world over. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros. 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U for the 3DS and the Wii U respectively. For all we know, Nintendo is testing the waters with X and Y’s visual improvements. So let’s assume, at least until the close of this article, that history is set to repeat itself — this time with Pokemon.
Now, to be clear, I don’t mean a spin-off like Pokemon Snap, or even a title like Pokemon: Battle Revolution. I mean a far more traditional Pokemon game – Pokemon Rain and Pokemon Storm, if you will – for the Wii U. You might say I’ve been inspired by Evan Liaw’s wonderful artwork: screens of what a mainstream Pokemon game for the Wii U could look like.
But realism and Pokemon? It’s something yet to be seen, and, for me, it seems out of place. It’d be like putting Mario in the Portal universe, or, rather, Peach, since she’s the one who gets kidnapped. You get the idea.
But despite the Wii U’s hardware, I think graphics will be among the least of Nintendo’s concerns. They have Miiverse and the GamePad to worry about; and to evolve a game this big (mind the pun), they would need to utilise these features in unique and fun ways.
Miiverse itself offers a myriad of ways to communicate with other players. It could be incorporated much like in New Super Mario Bros. U, where players’ comments pop up overhead events, places and gym leaders. It could be likened to Nintendo Land’s plaza, but rather than having Miis meandering just the plaza itself, you’d find them scattered all over the game world! You’d see their comments with regards to the location, you could have a gander at the Pokemon they have in their party as well as their levels, and you’d be able to respond with your own comments without having to enter Miiverse itself. Last and certainly not least, you could challenge them to a Pokemon battle! If they’re online at the time, it could ping them immediately; otherwise, it’d send a request waiting for the next time they’re active.
And that’s just the start. Imagine an MMO, fluid with HD graphics and a high frame rate, your favoured Pokemon scuttling behind you (or beside you), complete with live voice chat. Progression would be quest-based; tackling gym leaders and thwarting Team Stormy Rain’s plans for world (and weather) domination would be the main quest lines. The game would feature every region past, and players would start at any one of six regions. Here’s to hoping there’s a ‘randomise’ option. You could capture every Pokemon (it’s not like there aren’t enough), but depending on which region you started in, it’d be easier for you to catch some Pokemon than others. With everyone starting in different regions and catching their region’s Pokemon, every player will have their own unique experience to harp on about in Miiverse!
But that is all just speculation. Even still, there’s the GamePad to consider. Perhaps a constant display of your Pokemon and quick-slot items. You could heal your Charizard or Serperior with the simple tap of the touch-screen, or swap their hold items around. Though I’d caution against giving your Charizard a Miracle Seed – but that’s just me.
In battle, the touch screen would be akin to the bottom screen on Pokemon Games for Nintendo DS. Perhaps your GamePad could offer an over-the-head, almost 2D perspective, while the TV screen would be a fully 3D, third-person view. Of course, you could also opt to play on the GamePad alone.
Here’s something radical. What with the gyroscope, touch-screen and arsenal of buttons, the GamePad certainly paves the way for the use of action commands in battle. Perhaps you could diminish burn damage if you defend correctly, or heal 50% more health with a potion with the perfect timing of, say, the potion’s spray bottle. It could certainly amp up the difficulty as well as the player’s engagement in this age-old combat system. Who knows?
Well, we do know one thing. A Pokemon game for Wii U would certainly boost console sales, no doubt by a steep margin. Pokemon fans abound all over the globe, but the Wii U struggles to make an impact in several countries. Pokemon could change that. It’s a franchise that merges hardcore with casual, a franchise that appeals to those who simply want to collect cuddly (albeit sometimes ugly) things with powers, those who competitively strive to be the world’s best Pokemon trainer, and those who simply need something fun to do in their spare time. Put it on Wii U, and you not only draw the aforementioned, but also those who are yet hesitant by the handheld’s limited visuals. Perhaps Wii U is the perfect fit to fully realise the potential of one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.
Then again, perhaps not. If Pokemon migrated to Wii U, would 3DS sales diminish as a result? If Pokemon games were made for both platforms, would they compete – the audience split instead of grow? Whether detrimental or no, the repercussions for moving something so big and so traditionally portable over to the home console are inevitable, and they deserve serious consideration. Times are changing, the market is volatile, and predictions are hard to solidify; but if Nintendo wants to boost Wii U sales, then the prospect of featuring its yellow mascot on a major console title is something they should no doubt acknowledge. Nintendo, make it happen!
What are your thoughts on a full-fledged Pokemon title for Wii U? What do you think Nintendo need to change to make such a game worthy of a home console experience?