My guess is that the next Pokemon title will be a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl.
And when I say “next Pokemon title” I mean the next release of the core RPG game that runs on the Nintendo handheld platform and not some subsidiary title riding on the Pokemon fame like Pokemon Snap or Pokken Tournament.
So why remake Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?
The core Pokemon franchise has been one of patterns over the years. They are not always consistent, but they seem reliable enough to give one insight into what might come next.
The pattern started off with a release of a pair of titles… Red & Blue, Gold & Silver, Ruby & Sapphire, followed by a third title that represented a revision of the initial pair, respectively Yellow, Crystal, and Emerald.
Once Nintendo moved from the GameBoy and GameBoy Color to the GameBoy Advance and then the DS hardware, GameFreak used that as an opportunity to remake titles. So Pokemon FireRed & LeafGreen, HeartGold & SoulSilver, and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire came to be, reviving old locations and old foes (and already existing Pokemon) on new hardware with new features.
Having recently released a pair of titles set in a new location with new Pokemon being added to the Pokedex, it seems logical that the next title they go with will either be a remake of a past title or a third title to go with Pokemon Sun & Moon.
There are actually rumors of a Pokemon Stars out there, rumors that even I have heard, and I don’t pay much attention to much outside the official press releases for Pokemon. But that name sure fits the theme.
However, the rumors seem to be about this title coming to the Nintendo Switch as opposed to the 3DS platform. If that is the case, it doesn’t count in my book. Meanwhile, the whole “third title” pattern seems to be in decline. The last true “third title” was Pokemon Platinum. Pokemon Black & White got a Black & White Version 2, which stayed in the same region but which was a different story line, so that was sort-of a third (and fourth) title, but not in the spirit of past releases in that mold. And then Pokemon X & Y, the first 3DS-only title, got no follow on third title, even though they had a Pokemon setup already for feature in a possible Pokemon Z.
Because of this, I think third titles might be out for now, which leaves a remake as an option. So when I went to look for the oldest Pokemon generation that had yet to be remade, Pokemon Diamond & Pearl was the result.
Pokemon Diamond & Pearl seems about prime for a remake. It came out in Japan over ten years ago, and is coming up on its ten year release anniversary in other regions soon. That makes it feel like it is about due, as previous remakes were of titles 8-10 years in the past.
One difference however is that you can still play Pokemon Diamond & Pearl on the current 3DS hardware. The flip side of that though is Nintendo looks to have stopped shipping the DS only titles, likely because the infrastructure to support those games, the old Nintendo WiFi and such, has been dismantled. Nintendo is up there with EA in closing stuff down as soon as the next title comes out. So while you can find copies at Amazon or eBay, but they aren’t on the shelves at Target, WalMart, or Toys R Us for a reason.
And when it comes to that Pokemon Bank integrated National Pokedex of which I wrote last week, there is no official way to buy Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (and Platinum as well) in order to obtain the full range of generation 4 Pokemon. And, unlike the Pokemon Black & White games, even if you have a copy you can’t get your Pokemon straight into Pokemon Bank.
Of course, there is another alternative. Since Pokemon Diamond & Pearl already runs on the current 3DS hardware, Nintendo and GameFreak might decide to simply spruce the titles up a bit and put them in the Nintendo online store as Virtual Console titles the way they did with Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow back at the 20 year anniversary of the franchise. Then it would be back to the old school look.
That wouldn’t be horrible. I might buy a copy if they included Pokemon Bank integration, which I am sure they would would. But I would really rather have a remake title the way they have done in the past.
No matter what is coming next for the Pokemon franchise, I bet we won’t hear an announcement until autumn. I will just have to wait to see if my guess is correct.