Pokemon turns 20 this year, so one editor makes an argument for Nintendo to release proper sequels to the games that launched the series in North America – Pokemon Red and Blue.
As many gamers are well aware, 2016 marks the 20th birthday for the Pokemon franchise. The series, which many initially wrote off as a fad upon its inception, has only grown in the years since its debut in 1996. For longtime fans, however, the most beloved memories of Pocket Monsters were created in the Kanto region – and that same sentiment holds true for myself. From choosing my first-ever starter companion to becoming the League Champion, I’ve made a great deal of memories in Pokemon Red and Blue, and, after all of these years, I think it’s time to go back.
Now, there’s no question that Pokemon has changed dramatically since Red, Blue, and Yellow released on the original Game Boy. The addition of new types, Mega Evolutions, and 3D character models have pushed the series forward, but that’s exactly why a follow up to the very first adventure from the nostalgia-inducing environment is something that makes almost too much sense. Uniting old-school and newer fans alike is a wondrous idea, especially since it familiarizes rusty players with new gameplay elements, but there’s a lot more than just that for the sequels to do well.
One major aspect of the original games is the story, which still had some loose ends that were never tied up. Now, some fans will point out that the original games already saw a sequel of sorts in Pokemon Gold and Silver, as story-related elements and the entirety of Kanto were featured prominently in the games. It’s these titles, however, there was a lot that was left unfinished – especially in regards to Team Rocket’s head honcho Giovanni and Silver.
For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned relationship, it’s implied during events in the Heart Gold and Soul Silver remakes that the disgraced Team Rocket head is actually the estranged father of the red-headed rival from the second games. This seems to only be mentioned in passing and never plays into the plot, which is bizarre since a number of different things could have happened in the fallout from such a revelation. With Team Rocket setting off on its own path after Giovanni has essentially taken off, could Silver have taken up the abandoned mantle of the criminal organization? It certainly seems possible that he could have picked up the pieces of his father’s splintered crime ring after putting it to bed with the help of the player-controlled Gold, but there’s no telling what happened in current canon.
Meanwhile, the mysterious protagonist from the first-ever installments, Red, seems to have completely turned his back on society in order to become the strongest Pokemon trainer of all time. He can be found, mute as ever, hanging out in a cave in the previously touched upon versions, but what pushed him to abandon helping Pocket Monsters and people? Is he really just focused on being the very best there ever was? These are things that, as a fan, I’d love to know, and I firmly believe others would too.
Those that want something new can get just that from sequels as well. The world has changed significantly since the events of Red and Blue, and the Kanto region is surely no exception. Gym leaders have likely moved up the ladder, an absurd amount of new Pokemon have been discovered, and the 10 year old children that first set out on their adventure have grown up – just like I have. Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen certainly scratched an itch as remakes on the Gamy Boy Advance, but there’s so much more left to be done in this setting that it’s almost painful we haven’t been back.
The best part about this line of thought for legitimate sequels is that they seem possible more so now than ever before. Setting aside the fact that it’s the 20th anniversary of the franchise, The Pokemon Company also plans on re-releasing the original trio of games for fans in the Western world for the Nintendo 3DS, complete with upgrades such as wireless trading. With the originals firmly available on the hardware, continuing their story (as well as enticing former Pokéholics to return) becomes a much easier task. Suffice it to say, building on existing nostalgia would be a very smart thing to do for the parties involved.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like gamers will be waiting that long to get news on the next core iteration(s) of Pokemon. Nintendo has only just recently announced that it will be hosting a dedicated Nintendo Direct presentation for the series, and odds are that the next big RPG adventure will finally be unveiled during the online-only briefing. That showcase will kick off on February 26 at 7 a.m. PT, and it should prove to be an interesting time for wannabe Pokemon Masters. With rumors flying around that the announcement may pertain to anything from Pokemon Z to Pokemon Rainbow, I can’t help but think that a pair of true successors to Red and Blue would be the ideal announcement to make.