Pokemon Direct: Summary and Thoughts

On January 9th, Nintendo graced us with a Direct dedicated to Pokemon to start off the new year. It was a 20 minute presentation of upcoming Pokemon – related news, so many could only speculate what they were planning to unveil. Our first assumption was an update regarding Pokemon Sword and Shield which was pretty obvious, but the other that came after was quite a surprise to many – and a delightful one at that.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX

The trailer starts off as a nostalgic throwback to 2006, as we relive the first scene of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon in its 2D glory. It then transitions to the same scene with newer graphics, revealing a 2020 remake called Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX.

“It’s been about 15 years since Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team and Blue Rescue Team were released for the Nintendo DS and Gameboy in Japan, but now they will gain new life as a Nintendo Switch title.”

Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and CEO of The Pokemon Company

The new title is set to be a remake as the trailer shows updated scenes that may seem familiar to old players. It makes use of 3D models with the backgrounds being overlaid with a pencil-like texture, creating a storybook aesthetic. However, it also shows a glimpse of a Charizard mega-evolving, a mechanic introduced in Pokemon X and Y (2013), so there may be additional features, items or even Pokemon from newer games that will also be included.

After the last entry, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity which came out in 2013, everyone had believed the PMD saga had run its course. So a short, succinct trailer was a perfect way to start the direct. The game is set to be released on March 6 2020 with a demo already available to play on the Nintendo Switch eShop.

Pokemon Sword and Shield: Expansion Pass

Next, they focus on Pokemon Sword and Shield for the rest of the direct, revealing that an Expansion Pass is currently in development.

“Until now, we’ve sometimes released new titles set in the same region as previous games such as Pokemon: Platium or Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon. This expansion pass will be different from those games. You’ll be able to set out on new adventures using the save data you’re alreayd playing with.”

Junichi Masuda, Producer of Pokemon Sword and Shield at GAME FREAK

The expansion pass will cost $29.99/£26.99 and introduces 2 new areas called The Isle Armour and The Crown Tundra. They will be released in 2 parts: Part 1: The Isle Armour, which will be releasing in June 2020 and Part 2: The Crown Tundra in Fall 2020 but are available for pre-purchase now on the Nintendo eShop.

The Isle Armour “is a giant island of the shores of the Galar Region. This island is full of beautiful nature, filled with beaches, bogs, forests, caves and dunes.”

Klara has been a big hit with the Pokemon community so far.

The focus of the Isle Armour is ‘Growth’ as the player will be taking an apprenticeship at the Pokemon Dojo there, under a mentor called Mustard. It seems he was also the mentor of the previous Champion, Leon. You will also have 2 new rivals depending on your game: Klara (Pokemon Sword), a poison-type trainer and Avery (Pokemon Shield), a psychic-type trainer. Both of these rivals aim to better themselves and one day open their own Pokemon Gym.

In addition to this, there will be a new legendary Pokemon called Kubfu that you can catch and add to your team in the Isle Armour. Kubfu evolves to Urshifu, who has two different forms, a Single-Strike Style and Rapid-Strike Style. These two variations will have different types and also have different Gigantamax forms.

Part 2 takes the player to the Crown Tundra which focuses on ‘Exploration’ and is described as “a frigid area with its towering winter mountains where people live in small communities who support and rely on each other.”

A “certain person” will appoint the player as the new leader to explore the Crown Tundra. You will be able to explore blizzard-swept fields as well as actual Pokemon dens, which we only get a glimpse of during max raid battles – this will also be included as Co-Op play so you can play with other players.

These Pokemon dens will also give you the opportunity to actually catch legendary Pokemon from past games to add to your team.

There will be some new legendaries in the Crown Tundra aswell and this includes 3 legendary birds that share a striking resemblance to the legendary birds of Kanto.

The main legendary however, is Calyrex.

“Legends say this pokemon once ruled over a part of Galar that included the crown tundra. It’s characterised by its graceful regal movements.”

There is not much revealed about Calyrex yet, but it seems that it will have a big part in the story. Many fans have found the Pokemon to be a strange looking one due its its oversized headpiece and disapproportionately small body.

In addition to these, there will also be:

  • Tons of new outfits and hair styles/colour, including those of past rivals and bad guys.
  • A Gigantamax form for Venusaur and Blaistoise
  • Gigantamax forms of the three starters of Sword/Shield.
  • New looks for bikes
  • 200+ returning Pokemon, including legendaries AND new ones.
  • New mechanics, moves and more!

Free Updates and Pokemon Home

There is a free update available now that will allow you to purchase the expansion pass from the main menu. In addition to this, there will be a new mini event in Wedgehurst Station where you will not only meet your new rival (depending on your game version), but also have a chance to catch the new Galarian Slowpoke. This Slowpoke will have 2 evolution variants where you can either evolve it to a Slowbro or a Slowking, depending on which evolution item you use from either the Isle Armour or the Crown Tundra.

There will also be an opportunity for those who don’t buy the expansion pass to get Pokemon unavailable in the base game through either simple trading or the new Pokemon Home app. This will be released in February 2020 and will allow you to bring Pokemon from Pokemon Bank, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, as long as they are available in the expansion pass.

And last, for those wanting more, there is a free Pikachu and Eevee outfit and there is currently a Max Raid event focusing on the Pokemon Coalossal, Lapras, Flapple and Appletun to add to your roster.

Conclusion: Thoughts and Opinions

Despite only being 20 minutes long, I found the Pokemon Direct jampacked with new exciting information. The announcement of the new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon was the highlight for me as I love PMD as I feel that the best Pokemon games have been spinoffs such Pokemon Ranger and Pokemon Conquest. Hopefully, the latter two will have their own remake one day?

With how successful the Nintendo Switch has been, it is almost a guarantee that any classic games released will gain a new audience and fanbase. This has been seen with old game series such as Rune Factory 4 and Tokyo Mirage FE Sessions that are coming out this year.

However, I worry because it seems that Nintendo is following the trend of DLC and expansion packs that most companies have been adopting. Extra story content is somewhat acceptable but if they reduce certain Pokemon or items to DLC, it may affect the sales.

With the reveal of the expansion pass itself, there seems to be a mixed reception. While the amount of content is incredibly exciting, some have felt that aspects such as the clothing or old Pokemon, should have been included in the base game. On the other hand, despite the decent price of the expansion pass, some people seem to have prefer and would have even been willing to pay for a ‘sequel’ like Ultra Sun or Moon. In that regard, I prefer the expansion pass over an entire new game because I honestly can’t be bothered to play through the whole thing again and paying a quarter of the price of a new game is a good deal.

I feel like we are just starting to accept this new ‘pay for extra’ culture like how it is the norm for many free to play mobile games. I think the price for the pass is reasonable and the direct clearly shows that the staff at GAME FREAK are really dedicated to improving the game. It works for the expansion pass but I really hope that the new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game is released in its entirety without any extra purchases (fingers crossed!)

And lastly, I was surprised that there was no news of Pokemon Sleep as I thought it would go hand in hand with Pokemon Home Maybe next direct hopefully, until then, I will dream of the day that I’ll be able to drift off to the gentle cries of Kricketune:

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A self-proclaimed heroine who has a love for indie games and strategy JRPGs with a twist.

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