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Nintendo Switch is approaching its fifth anniversary.

Over the past five years, the hybrid console has completely changed the way Nintendo handles releases now that they only have one console to focus on instead of two.

No other franchise has exemplified this as well as Pokémon. As Pokémon has always focused more on handheld consoles, the Nintendo Switch has allowed the franchise to expand and develop in new ways while still retaining the hallmarks of what makes the series special.

Evolution of Pokémon games

After the summer of 2016 when Pokémon GO took the world by storm, Nintendo released the Nintendo Switch in early 2017. Although Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company believed that the Nintendo Switch would fail before its release, during E3 , Ishihara announced that the Game Freak team is working on a core RPG of the franchise for Nintendo Switch.

However, as they worked on what would become the Gen VIII games Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, the company was also looking to attract the massive amounts of fans who had just gotten hooked on Pokémon GO. Their response: Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee!

Pokémon Let’s Go

Pokémon Let’s go, Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! were the first games of the Nintendo Switch franchise. Released in 2018, Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! were a mesh of the core Pokémon games and Pokémon GO mechanics.

Battles have been changed, mechanics have been simplified to attract new players, and the games have brought players back to where it all began in Gen I Kanto. It was a great first outing as the games grew. sold over 3 million copies in their first week of sale. Today, games total 13.57 million copies sold according to Nintendo statistics.

A few months later, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company revealed the next main entries with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield from Gen VIII.

While some fans were upset with things like games having a limited Pokedex and felt that Game Freak wasn’t doing enough to move the series forward, this was the perfect next step after Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee! because it was a smaller step for new players to get into what the main Pokemon games are.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield enjoyed resounding success in November 2019 becoming the best-selling Nintendo Switch games at the time. The games saw the mechanics become more streamlined and introduced the franchise’s first open area with the wilderness area that players can explore when not exploring roads, caves, and waterways like the classic games.

Changes

The games also saw a change in the Game Freak release schedule. Usually, Game Freak will release a third version of the titles of the generation (eg Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Crystal, etc.). However, along with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, Game Freak decided to forgo the third version and instead release two separate DLC packs featuring brand new areas to explore within the main games themselves.

Overall, it worked well for games as they combined to sell 21.85 million copies, which ranks them as the fifth best-selling Nintendo Switch games overall.

The next games

Upcoming games in the franchise are the upcoming Gen IV remakes of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl. These games are a continuation of The Pokémon Company’s trend to remake the classic games in the series.

Unlike the other remakes in the series, these will be more in line with the original games, while the older remakes are more in line with the games of the current generation. However, one thing that is unique about these remakes is that they are not made by Game Freak for the first time but by ILCA.

This means that the Nintendo Switch has allowed The Pokémon Company to trust another developer with the main Pokémon games while Game Freak is working on something else. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Pokémon Shining Pearl are slated for release in November.

As mentioned with ILCA handling the remakes of Pokémon Shining Pearl and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond, Game Freak is getting to work on something fans are clamoring for. Pokémon Legends Arceus is a new direction for the franchise as the first fully open-world Pokémon game.

However, this is not the next main game or the start of Generation IX. Instead, it transports players to an ancient time in the Sinnoh region where people and Pokémon live at odds instead of being together.

Pokémon Legends Arceus takes the franchise in a more Action RPG direction than the typical turn-based nature of the main games. Battles can now take various forms with wild Pokémon being able to attack the player directly, players can try to catch wild Pokémon without actively fighting, you can choose to actually fight, and now turn-based combat has evolved to be more based on speed and action as well as new styles that increase the strength and abilities of the movements used by Pokémon.

There’s still a lot that The Pokémon Company and Game Freak haven’t revealed about Pokémon Legends Arceus. Fans won’t have to wait too long to get their hands on the game since Pokémon Legends Arceus will be released in January 2022.

The bottom line

Overall, the Nintendo Switch has allowed Pokémon to grow and vary in the main games they are releasing now. There will be four pillars that the franchise can support with Let’s Go !, the main RPGs, remakes of classic Pokémon games, and the new Legends spin-off.

This is all in addition to continual spinoff releases like Pokémon Unite and New Pokémon Snap, and ongoing updates to games like Pokémon GO. Thus, the future of Pokémon looks even brighter thanks to what the Nintendo Switch has brought to the franchise.


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