One of the most important announcements made at the last Nintendo Direct was the addition of Game Boy titles to Nintendo Switch Online, with Game Boy Advance titles also included in the Expansion Pack. There had been various reports concerning the addition of Nintendo’s old portable platforms for some time before to the Direct, and there were specific titles that I wanted to see on the service more than any other: the Pokémon series. The original Pokémon games were not addressed in the Direct, but making them playable on Switch would be a huge opportunity for Nintendo if done well.
Pokémon are required in the Game Boy library on the Nintendo Switch.
The Game Boy and Game Boy Advance app launch lineup for Nintendo Switch is currently tiny, with only a few outstanding games. While Nintendo has stated that additional games are on the way, the list is relatively modest, particularly for original Game Boy titles. There are a few standouts, with The Legend of Zelda Oracle games and Metroid Fusion being among the finest entries in their respective genres – but they aren’t titles worth the price of a Nintendo Switch Online membership.
The original Tetris was one of the finest launch titles of all time, and it helped sell Game Boy systems early on, but it was the Pokémon brand that gave the handheld a second life and made it into one of Nintendo’s best-selling platforms. Pokémon Red and Blue are the best-selling entries in the series to this day, giving rise to Pokémania and fostering a generation of lifelong fans.
If Pokémon Red and Blue were announced on the Nintendo Switch Online service, it would have been one of the most significant announcements made at this week’s Nintendo Direct. Fans of these games still enjoy them, and they would have hurried to their Switch to go on another voyage across the Kanto area. However, the Direct did not even hint at further mainline Pokémon games, which may have enticed users to re-subscribe in the future. All of this begs the issue of how these games would operate on Switch in the first place.
How would Pokémon utilize Nintendo Switch Online?
Image of Pokémon Yellow on the Nintendo 3DS courtesy of Nintendo.
As much as I would like to see Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch Online, I appreciate the difficulties of porting them to a new platform. Because they were essential for completing the Pokédex, the Pokémon games depended on the Link Cable more than any other game on the system. While Nintendo Switch Online has a Link Cable emulator for wifi, it is only available to persons on your Friend List.
However, Pokémon Home provides an extra motivation for Nintendo and The Pokémon Company to offer more online capabilities to vintage Pokémon games. If it were possible to transfer Pokémon from the Nintendo Switch Online applications to Pokémon Home, it would increase the value of their inclusion since people would want to include Gen 1 to 3 Pokémon into the present games. A approach similar to this notion has already worked with Pokémon games on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console, thus there is precedence for this concept operating on current platforms.
The ideal Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch Online would not only have online trade and battle via Link Cable emulation, but would also be able to link with the future Pokémon Stadium on the Nintendo 64. This would allow old-school fans to relive the entire Pokémania experience they may have missed as children due to not possessing all of the hardware, like I did.
Keep your fingers crossed for this year’s Pokémon Day.
All is not lost for the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance applications, since it’s conceivable that an announcement about classic Pokémon games for the Nintendo Switch may be delayed until Pokémon Day on February 27. This is The Pokémon Company’s version to the Nintendo Direct, including announcements of games for both mobile and Nintendo platforms in the past.
The previous Pokémon Day event was enormous since it was where Pokémon Scarlet and Violet were revealed — but there may not be as many big surprises this year. This is because Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Pokémon Scarlet and Violet were released within a year of each other in 2022. Because Generation IX is so new, The Pokémon Company will have to rely on spin-off releases, DLC material, and potentially even older games to make its case.
A throwback Pokémon announcement for Nintendo Switch would be a significant event and a major lure for new subscribers, since the opportunity to re-experience the series’ original entries is something that fans would pay good money for, especially after the controversial reaction to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The Pokémon Trading Card Game is currently the only Pokémon game announced for the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance applications.
The Pokémon Company may be delaying the addition of mainstream retro entries to the service for financial reasons or a desire to limit simple access to fans, since it may be intending to develop additional remakes of previous games. As it is, the Pokémon games are required to make the Nintendo Switch Online’s Game Boy and Game Boy Advance applications attractive, as the present lineup feels like an afterthought. Other than Mother 3, the only thing that would actually thrill me about these applications would be the inclusion of the Pokémon games that helped transform me into a lifetime lover of the brand.