This article is part of GameGulp's celebration for 20 years of Pokemon.
For the past decade, Nintendo has kept to themselves, relying on old titles such as Mario and Zelda to stay relevant in the gaming industry. Another Smash Bros here, another Mario Kart there, just to remind us that Nintendo has other interesting characters shelved away in its attic, like Donkey Kong and Samus Aran from "Metroid." Sometimes we get shiny gems, like "Xenoblade Chronicles" and... "Xenoblade Chronicles X." But most other things are left in the dark.
Nintendo's handhelds however, managed to keep Nintendo more relevant, with their games, "Ace Attorney," "Fire Emblem," and of course, "Pokemon." It is sad really, to witness the slow and steady decline of the company that singlehandedly saved the entire videogame industry. They look like Nokia and BlackBerry these days, once pioneers, now struggling to regain traction against competition.
But this article isn't really about Nintendo and the wasted potential of the rest of the characters (seriously, "Metroid" could have been Nintendo's "Assassin's Creed). It's about "Pokemon" and how little Nintendo has scraped the iceberg's surface.
Nintendo's boldest achievement for Pokemon isn't X and Y, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, where the traditional 2D graphics was transformed into a full interactive 3D environment. The biggest thing to have happened to Pokemon, since, well, Pokemon, was the games "Pokemon Colosseum" and "XD: Gale of Darkness."
Let's talk less about "Gale of Darkness" since that game has been a real disaster. "Colosseum" however, is a different beast all together.
"Pokemon Colosseum" is the actual first 3D Pokemon game with a story-driven purpose. It also came out in the Nintendo GameCube in 2003 (JP). It's a game that focused on the protagonist, Wes, a former member of Team Snagem, which, like every other "Team" affiliation, is part of an underworld crime syndicate. Wes destroys Team Snagem's base and eventually meets Rui, and gets tangled with another syndicate called Cipher who are creating Shadow Pokemon. The rest of the game mechanic is quite similar to traditional Pokemon games.
"Colosseum" was to Pokemon, as "Super Mario Sunshine" was to "Super Mario," only done better. It was new, took a refreshing route, and a testament from Nintendo and The Pokemon Company that they were trying new and cool stuff to expand and maximize the Pokemon franchise.
But then people will be saying, don't fix what ain't broke. While I do agree with that, "Call of Duty," "Battlefield," and "Assassin's Creed" have been prime testaments to that, though adding a little bit something fresh in each game. There is nothing broken with Pokemon, granted, but it does need something fresh.
"Gale of Darkness," the sequel to "Colosseum" was a misfire. It lacked detail and featured recycled material, as if the developers ran out of budget to give the game any real polish. But it had the heart to become a great Pokemon game. It wasn't about collecting gym badges, it was about rescuing the region's professor, and saving Pokemon.
Nintendo should bother for a second sequel for "Colosseum." A reboot, at least, that recaptures the charm the original had. "Super Mario Sunshine" was a misfire itself, and it was redeemed by titles such as "Super Mario Galaxy," which has spawned a sequel, and led to a more down to earth, "Super Mario 3D World." Why couldn't they do that for "Pokemon Colosseum" that, let's face it, is among Nintendo's biggest cash cow with its games and merchandises. Nintendo has the skills and budget to achieve this.
Of course, given Nintendo's current standing in the industry, they would be unwilling to take alien risks. Wii U sales weren't as anyone hoped and the 3DS could only do so much in carrying the entire company's weight. However, as it goes, now seems to be the perfect time to take calculated risks. Two, three, wonderfully crafted games can retain Nintendo's spot and they wouldn't need to migrate to mobile. Maybe their last hurrah would be the new console.
A new Pokemon game is coming out. "Pokken Tournament," which takes inspiration (or so it seems) from the "Dragon Ball Z" Tenkaichi/Xenoverse and "Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm" games. Others had commented its "Tekken" inspired. But looking at it, no, it's "Tenkaichi" and "Ultimate Ninja Storm."While this is a grand departure from the traditional Pokemon style games many of us had come to love, "Pokken Tournament" will indeed grab some attention for a while. But nonetheless, it still lacks a charm that is much needed that can help push Nintendo back up into its ranking.