Though we’ve seen quite a few great games in 2016, one of the most noteworthy releases is almost certainly the new generation of Pokemon games. Pokemon Sun and Moon released in November to widespread acclaim and record-breaking sales, making it yet another major entry for the series on the Nintendo 3DS, an altogether wonderful (and successful) mobile system. However, the first set of Pokemon games to release on the 3DS–those being X and Y–haven’t received proper sequels in the same way that previous Pokemon games have. This has left many fans wondering when the release dates will be for Pokemon X2, Y2, and hypothetically, Z. Are they even set to be released, at all, or is there a reason to get hyped?
Read on, for your answers!
The Pokemon series is not only one of the most profitable, well-known game series that’s still causing splashes in the market, it’s one of the oldest, too. The original games–Pokemon Red and Blue–released on the Nintendo Game Boy in the 90s and the subsequent titles have only grown more and more popular. As the gaming hardware they’re featured on has grown, so too have the games become more robust, interesting, and dynamic. Team battles, online competition, and better yet, online trading have become standard in the newest games, which has helped to keep Pokemon relevant in a culture that is largely concerned with how connectivity can affect an experience.
Still, over the course of many years, Pokemon games have released according to a certain “pattern.” New generations are given their own thematic monikers. Most recently, we’ve had Sun and Moon. Before that, there was X and Y. Preceding that was Black and White, Ruby and Saphire, Red and Blue, and on, and on. You can see the dynamic occurring between the names in each of these titles, but there’s another angle that’s almost as significant.
Some of these games have received “sequels” of a sort. The full explanation is that the games are less sequels and more “updates,” but the naming nomenclature has most fans of the series referring to them as the former. These have taken shape as Pokemon Black 2 and White 2, and Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire. They always innovate on the features introduced by the game that came before them, and they always tell a different story. However, it helps to give Pokemon fans another taste of those gameplay elements exclusive to certain games.
There’s been widespread speculation (and expectation) that we’d be seeing X2, Y2, and Z. While X2 and Y2 would be updates on the respective X and Y, Z would be a “new” game in that generation of Pokemon titles, featuring a new legendary monster and a different story angle than the other two.
Now that we’ve just seen Pokemon Sun and Moon released, should we start getting ready for sequels from a previous generation? Or is the Pokemon Company–and subsequently, Nintendo–choosing to do things a different way, this time around?
Pokemon Game Releases
When you have a game series as old as Pokemon, you’re looking at both a historic precedent and a trendsetter. It takes some serious chops to keep one game series alive for decades, and a consistent, strong reputation to keep the same gamers coming back for more, while at the same time introducing new generations to new titles. Pokemon has done this consistently ever since Red and Blue in the early 90s, and there’s no reason to think that it won’t continue.
Most games in the Pokemon series are separated by “Generations.” Each generation is indicative of certain lore within the games, specific types of monsters, and particular gameplay elements. It’s a rather ambiguous system of qualification, but each new entry in the game series usually marks the beginning of a new generation.
For example, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow notate Generation I. Pokemon Gold and Silver make up Generation II, Ruby, Saphire, and Emerald make up Generation III, and so it continues. Most recently, we’ve seen the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, which mark the beginning of Generation VII. Amidst each of these generations, tertiary titles have come and gone, flourished and failed.
Pokemon Go is another recent example, but even in spite of its flash-in-the-pan popularity, it did not define a Pokemon “Generation.”
The sequels, on the other hand, don’t define Pokemon generations, either. They fit into the scheme of various release schedules, certainly, but since they’re firmly built upon the back of the games that came before them, they’re not considered “new” entries when they’re released. Let’s dissect that a bit.
Pokemon Gold and Silver were the leaders of Generation II, but each game eventually had a sequel, in addition to a third title that was released to accompany the original two. However, the sequels were not released during Generation II; rather, they came about during Generation IV, several years later, in the form of HeartGold, SoulSilver. The third game released to compliment Gold and Silver–Platinum–was released way back in Generation II, and was never designed to receive an eventual sequel.
It’s a complicated release paradigm, to be sure. It’s tangled, it’s messy, it’s bloated with a ton of tertiary games that, while good, didn’t necessarily further the series. However, by looking at the above example, you can get an idea of how the eventual releases of X2, Y2, and Z might happen, if they ever do.
They hypothetical Pokemon X2, Y2, and Z could appear during any future Generation of Pokemon games, including this one. They won’t define a new Generation–that was already done by X and Y in Generation VI–but they’d fit right into the mix on, say, a future Nintendo console. We’ll expand upon that thought in a moment.
The Home of Pokemon
Nintendo has almost always been the home of Pokemon games. From the Game Boy to the 3DS, Nintendo consoles and handhelds have been the preferred environment for almost every single Pokemon game that we’ve seen. The only exception to this rule has been the recently-released Pokemon Go, which made a splash on smartphones but is already sinking in popularity.
Pokemon X and Y made their debuts on the 3DS, while the sequels to previous games Ruby and Saphire were brought in as Omega Ruby and Alpha Saphire. Only one month ago, Pokemon Sun and Moon also debuted on the Nintendo 3DS.
That’s an awful lot of Pokemon for one, single Nintendo system…
The Nintendo Switch
…Which should bring us straight to the topic of the Nintendo Switch, the upcoming console that’s slated to be released in March 2017. For the first time ever, Nintendo is merging their handheld and home console divisions to create a single, unified platform. It’s going to manage that by being both, at once.
The Nintendo Switch is primarily a handheld device with a single screen. It has dual analog inputs and a full array of buttons, but its most standout feature is the dock, which users will be able to hook up to their home television. Simply drop the Switch into its dock, and you’ll be able to play your games at home, at a full 1080p high definition.
It’s interesting, and it’s a damned smart direction for Nintendo to go in. It also means that more Nintendo console owners will be able to partake in Pokemon games, which have largely been relegated to handhelds. And what would usher in more Switch owners like a new Pokemon game? If not a new generation (which we’ve just seen this month) then a set of fresh, Switch-optimized sequels in the form of X2, Y2, and maybe even Z.
Pokemon X2, Y2 & Z
The thing is, the above is entirely speculation. We know that the Nintendo Switch is real, and that’s it’s going to be released in March of 2017. Anything having to do with sequels to the Generation VI Pokemon games, however, is grounded more in what we might expect than what we have actual evidence for. That’s an unfortunate thing to realize, but for now, it’s all we’ve got.
Does that mean there’s no reason to be excited? Absolutely not! We’re getting a brand new Nintendo console next year, which means that it’s going to usher in entirely new, fun gaming experiences. Since Pokemon is such a landmark presence for Nintendo, you can bet that some of those new experiences will revolve around Pokemon games. More even than that, they’ll be running on some of the best hardware Nintendo has ever used!
There are currently no release dates for Pokemon X2, Y2, and Z, but suspicions haven’t been outright denied, either. Above all else, you can be sure that Pokemon will continue to be one of the major series pushing Nintendo game consoles forward, and no matter what form those games arrive in, they’ll be progressive, evolved, and a blast to play! If you have any questions about Pokemon, the specific generations of games, or the Nintendo Switch, let us know in the comments, below!