I may have been late to the “Pokemon” games, but I’ve been a diehard fan ever since I bricked my PlayStation Portable in high school to play the Game Boy classics.
Nearly 30 mainline “Pokemon” games have launched since 1998, and I’ve beaten most of them. I played several of them far past the end credits, going on to breed and battle Pokemon competitively.
But now, after pouring hundreds of hours over 10 years into this beloved series, my time with it might be coming to an end.
Why, you ask? Because the series is leaving Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system and moving over to its home and portable console hybrid, the Nintendo Switch—a system I don’t intend to buy.
On the surface, “Pokemon” games are simple, and the core gameplay hasn’t changed since the franchise’s inception 20 years ago. Battles basically play out like matches of rock, paper, scissors, and every third game or so adds new Pokemon to catch, trade, breed and battle. The stories are juvenile and full of messages of hope and perseverance and whatnot.
But what makes “Pokemon” games great is they make me feel like a Pokemon trainer. Because the games are on the 3DS, a portable system, I can take my Pokemon out into the real world and play. It adds another level of immersion to an already captivating experience. The games are perfect for the 3DS, and it’s sad to see them leaving the system.
That said, the evolution to the Switch makes sense. The games are pretty big, and they are full of hundreds of Pokemon and sizable worlds. The games push the 3DS to its limits, so the series needs a beefier system to continue to grow.
But on the Switch, players will mostly be locked into playing “Pokemon” at home. Sure, you can take Switch’s controller and screen on the go, but it’s big and far less convenient than a 3DS. How many people have you seen playing Switch while out and about?
Inconvenience aside, the series’ move to the Switch means I have to buy the console if I want to keep playing. I haven’t owned a Nintendo home console since the days of the N64, and I’m not about to buy a Switch for “Pokemon” and a couple of other games I might be interested in. I have too many home consoles as it is without another one cluttering my shelf.
The series’ switch to the Switch (no pun intended) also brings up a concerning question: Will the Pokemon players already painstakingly caught and trained in 3DS games be transferable to Switch “Pokemon” games? I would certainly hope so, but the question remains.
Myself and thousands of other players own several Pokemon we caught years ago in various different Pokemon games that we’ve transferred to current games. My guess is we’ll be able to do the same once the series releases on the Switch, but I bet it will be an annoying, convoluted, non-reversible process.
As the Switch games grow in popularity, the 3DS player base will slowly dwindle. One day in the not-so-distant future, hardly anyone will be competing in “Pokemon Sun” or “Moon” as the dedicated fans move to Nintendo’s new system.
I just can’t see myself joining them—at least not anytime soon. I’ve enjoyed my years raising and battling Pokemon, but it will soon be time to let the series grow without me.
Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, leaving a comment below, or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.