Let’s Chat: Hopes & Dreams for Pokémon’s The Crown Tundra DLC

Another week, another Let’s Chat! Once again, with Ashley busy, I have called in support; Pokémon fan Stephen Brown joins me to discuss the recent video presentation for Part 2 of the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, The Crown Tundra. We got new info on the features included, as well as announcements elsewhere in the Pokémon franchise! So, let’s get into it!


William Robinson: It’s time to, yet again, say hi to a new voice! Welcome, Stephen Brown – similar to the introductions for Jordan Senior, Jed Harling, and Toby Court in the previous Let’s Chat, give us a quick summary of where you currently do your gaming, and your favourite game series!

Stephen Brown: Hello and thank you for having me; I’m Stephen, and currently do all my gaming on my Nintendo Switch. However, I do have a PlayStation 5 on pre-order, so it won’t be long until I expand my gaming experience further past Nintendo. I am very well suited to this conversation, as my favourite game series is Pokémon! The very first game I ever played was Pokémon Gold for the Game Boy Colour, and since then I have been hooked with the series. I’ve always loved the fact that there are so many different Pokémon, and that when new Pokémon are revealed they become the instant favourite for someone, perhaps such as for the long-awaited Galarian Slowking we saw in this video!

WR: Thanks for that! Without further ado, then; prior to the airing of the Expansion Pass Updates today, which content were you hoping to see?

SB: I was expecting an in-depth announcement about The Crown Tundra DLC pack, similar to the trailer we got for The Isle of Armor earlier this year, opening up with Galarian Slowking to mirror the reveal of Galarian Slowbro for the latter. Then, panning shots of the area, with a sprinkling of the returning Pokémon, followed by more details on new mechanics such as the Dynamax Adventures and Galarian Star Tournament. Furthermore, I was hoping for it to end with a closer look at the new Legendary Pokémon Calyrex, hinting to their role, and then a release date. I would say we definitely got the majority of that, and more, all within this almost 11 minute video.

WR: That covers it quite well – and then there was me, with my prediction of Candice returning from Diamond/Pearl/Platinum because we have a snowy setting and the presence of Regirock, Regice, and Registeel, reminding me of Snowpoint City! Which, actually, in a way, I actually got correct with her appearance in the music video that ended the Updates! Presented by The Pokémon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara, we opened into a new trailer for The Crown Tundra, and immediately got those landscape shots of the Wild Area free-roam setting – I am drawn to this sort of cold, atmospheric environment, and am therefore excited to explore it. You?

SB: Well, indeed, we did get to see Candice – so you were technically right! Maybe we should add Galar and Sinnoh being connected to copious piles of Pokémon fan theories that are out there! Yes, the snowy setting and variety of ancient, mysterious buildings/temples are a big appeal. I can’t wait to explore all the new areas and find hidden TMs or a Hyper Potion tucked away in some secret corner. I wonder if we’ll see the return of finding Diglett, which was part of the Isle of Armor Pack. There could be another 150 Diglett to find!

WR: Or perhaps 150 hidden Vanillites? Find the ice creams! The more mystical vibe relative to Isle of Armor intrigues me, and ties into the clear emphasis on Legendary Pokémon for The Crown Tundra. We already knew there would be new Forms of the Kanto Legendary Birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres, but now we know that every Legendary in the series is going to be available upon this release!

SB: Oh now that would be cruel, but also so satisfying to complete; Vanillite was designed by the Art Director for Sword and Shield, James Turner, so that would be a nice Easter Egg. Yes, it seems that with the introduction of new Legendaries, Regional Forms, and the Dynamax Adventures, The Crown Tundra is going to be focused on giving players the opportunity to catch various Legendary Pokémon. I wonder if this is the role of new character Peony; some kind of Legendary Pokémon expert? I also noticed that there is a shot where the player runs up to a cliff edge and we see Galarian Articuno in the overworld flying away into the horizon. Do you think this could hint at the return of roaming Legendaries?

WR: I’m not sure… It is possible, but could also be a one-off moment. Chasing them around the area could be a fun new twist on the roaming Legendary Pokémon though, yeah! Here I shall express my concern of whether including all these Legendary Pokémon is going to act as a distraction from a lack of content elsewhere; I am not going to judge before I play, and I hope that it is not the case. There is spectacle to the returning Legendary Pokémon, which ideally are backed up by longevity in other areas and don’t seem to be covering up deficiencies, which was an issue with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. We haven’t seen much of the main narrative yet – it could be that they are holding quite a bit back still.

SB: True, it could be similar to Crystal, where you simply see Suicune at various points within the story and then battle at a certain point. However, with the Wild Areas and Pokémon appearing in the overworld, this could be a fresh take on roaming. No more tedious planning to enter the right area at the right time and then lock Pokémon into a battle with Mean Look! On the distribution of content, I think that’s a fair point to raise. It does seem as though including Legendaries is a shiny distraction for perhaps a shorter story; a reward for completing a 4 hour narrative that some will easily get through in one sitting, encouraging you to keep exploring the new area. Their inclusion could also be to make up for the lack of a National Pokédex, which still seems to be some peoples main hang up with these games (it’s been almost a year now people stop whining about it). The inclusion of Legendaries may be becoming a post game staple for Pokémon. We saw this in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, entering Ultra Space to catch them, and now we have Dynamax Adventures for Sword and Shield.

I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures

Stephen Brown

WR: Aha, another great segway into the next topic! It’s as if you’re doing it on purpose… So, yeah, Dynamax Adventures are a new addition to the Raid Battles of Sword and Shield. They make Raid Battles into more of a dungeon-crawling mode, where you go up against consecutive battles in a row to either get to an end goal or even try the Endless mode! This is going to be a way to meet many Legendary Pokémon; it seems really fun, adding extra intrigue to the Raid Battles and offering even more ways to team up for multiplayer. I’m glad they are expanding this side of the experience – and it should offer a challenge too, as you go in with rental Pokémon!

SB: Definitely, I’m really excited to try this out and team up with my friends for evenings of Dynamax Adventures, in the hopes to catch epic Legendary Pokémon! Additionally, I think only using rental Pokémon for these adventures is a really clever move on Game Freak’s part. At first I was a bit shocked that – unlike regular Dynamax Raids – we couldn’t battle with our own Pokémon (who, let’s face it, are all probably Lv100 and EV trained by this point). However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. With Legendaries from all previous games coming back, and the idea that at this point players will have at least completed the main story, using rented Pokémon will allow Dynamax Adventures to remain a challenge and feel even more satisfying when you get to the end and capture a Legendary Pokémon. You won’t be able to go in with a team of Eternatus’ or other Legendaries to quickly sweep through with relative ease. I think it will add a layer of strategy and longevity to the new mechanic and stop people falling off of the DLC within a week.

WR: Yeah, that’s a great point, it’ll add lasting challenge to the Raids, and hopefully make them more similar to how the recent Mewtwo Raid was a really tough battle. It reminds me of the Battle Factory from Pokémon Platinum, too! You were hoping for a glimpse of Calyrex, and we got that, though we don’t know much on them yet.

SB: I thought about the Battle Factory as well (Gen4 Remakes Confirmed haha). Yeah, compared to the Isle of Armor and its Legendary Pokémon Kubfu, it seems that Calyrex is less pivotal to the storyline of The Crown Tundra, sharing the spotlight with the Regional Legendary Birds and the new Regieleki and Regidrago. It’s still too early to tell how Calyrex will affect the story, but with their being on the official logo artwork, it may well be a big role. I’m excited to find out more on the mysteries that surround Calyrex; how they interact with the player and other characters in the story.

WR: In terms of the narrative, there isn’t much else we know; you have mentioned Peony, but we are going to have to wait to find out more on him. There is a bunch of more intrinsic mechanical introductions as well, including the new Ability Patches that bring out the Hidden Abilities of Pokémon. This further opens up training options, which is an area Sword and Shield have put a clear focus on, for example with the Mints to change Natures. Personally, I am very excited for the new fashion items and League Card customisation options!

SB: The introduction of Ability Patches is going to contribute to shaking up the competitive meta game. Like you said, Sword and Shield did a lot to help get more players involved with online competitive battles. With the addition of Mints, Ability Patches, and new terrain setting moves – to name three – it’s now easier than ever to build up a strong team full of your favourites. Shiny hunters are probably rejoicing at the fact they will be able to give their special Pokémon Hidden Abilities. It does make me wonder how we will get this item. Will it be purchasable through Battle Points (BPs); some new Ore based item similar to Armorite Ore; or will this be a limited item with only 3 or so in the game, making it more critical a decision? The little additions of new fashion items and League Card options are great for keeping the game fresh, trying out new styles that show off your personality! One thing we can see from the trailer is that Peony has a Dynamax band, and appears to have a pre-battle animation screen, so it’s more than likely we will have to battle him at some point. I wonder if he will have a Gigantamax Pokémon as well; maybe G-Max Melmetal to help tie in the upcoming connectivity between Pokémon HOME and Pokémon GO.

WR: BP in exchange for Ability Patches would be okay with me, as I have so much to spend from my time with Shield! I imagine that we will indeed be battling Peony, and I hope that he is challenging. Was there any other details from this part of the video which stood out to you, or should we go on to the Galarian Star Tournament?

SB: Same here, I have an abundance of BP from all my time on Sword. Let’s go onto the Galarian Star Tournament, another new mechanic coming with this DLC where we can pair up with Pokémon Trainers from the core game and the DLC in 2-on-2 battles. Do you think there will be a reward for competing, or is it mainly a fun way to develop the lore of the characters? Also – I can probably guess – who are you going to pair up with for the Star Tournament?

WR: I mean for me, that extra lore is the reward! The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect! Hopefully, there are various different combos of characters, with it taking quite a few goes to hear all the different dialogue. Personally, I am confident that there will be other prizes as well, for example perhaps items or awards for your Pokémon. Of the characters we have seen in the Galarian Star Tournament so far, Marnie is the one I am going to be prioritising teaming up with. Though, I am still hoping for appearances from other regions too… Do you know who you are going to pair up with?

The characters in Sword and Shield are wonderful; finding out more details on them is a fantastic prospect!

William Robinson

SB: I couldn’t agree more! I love reading the League Cards you get from the other trainers, learning about their personality and goals. Same here, I think there shall definitely be a variety of combos, which will unlock new dialogue for already established pairings. Marnie and Piers, Melony and Gordie, Bede and Opal, Hop and Leon, Leon and Raihan, Leon and Mustard, Leon and Sonia… Leon sure does get around for someone who’s constantly late and bad with directions haha! Oh! I hadn’t thought about other regions, that’s a good point, we could have something similar to Pokémon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2; if so, that would be pretty awesome! On the other hand, I do think because it’s called the Galarian Star Tournament and not the World Star Tournament we might just be limited to those from Sword and Shield. For me, I’m most excited about teaming up with Bede or Opal and using my all Fairy team with theirs!

WR: You reckon Professor Sonia is going to be in the pairings? It’d be great, but I doubt that. Having so many options for battling characters again is one of the endearing aspects of Sword and Shield, and this is an emphasis on that. I imagine you are correct on the characters in Galar being the only ones participating, but hey, I can dream right?

SB: You’re right, I was just pointing out how many pairings you could get with just Leon and someone else – he’s a popular guy! Maybe we shall see a return of Sordward and Shielbert, the post-game antagonists with the, um, unique hairstyles? You certainly can dream, and there isn’t anything to say trainers from other regions couldn’t join the tournament; we may have even seen a hint to this in the music video that premiered at the end of the presentation. After this, we found out that The Crown Tundra comes out on October 23rd in the UK, and the 22nd in other parts of the world. We also learned that a physical copy of Sword and Shield with the DLC included will be available on 6th November. I’m curious to see how well it does in terms of sales, and if it will be enough to help boost Sword and Shield‘s overall sales positioning. It’s currently the third best selling Pokémon game, after recently overtaking the sales of Diamond/Pearl/Platinum.

WR: I’m glad; the 22nd gives a decent amount of time to play before the many releases in November, with the new consoles and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. I can now put aside time to play The Crown Tundra! I really hope it builds upon Isle of Armor; the first DLC was very enjoyable as a base platform for them to progress with new ideas. I may be disappointed if they don’t continue to innovate with The Crown Tundra. In retrospect, how did you find Isle of Armor?

SB: Don’t forget Pikmin 3 Deluxe comes out the following week! I’m glad it’s not a new Pikmin game, otherwise I would be torn on which to play. Considering that Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra were announced together as a package, it wouldn’t surprise me if we didn’t get anything too different from one to the other and the parties involved use the two to test the waters for future endeavors. However, I could be wrong; there is still so little we know about The Crown Tundra and the potential surprise features, such as how in Isle of Armor there was the return of Pokémon following you in the overworld. Isle of Armor was not only challenging at points, it was also packed with cool details and great humour to get you invested. As well as this, the story really helped me build up a bond with Kubfu. If I had been given them as a Mystery Gift, as with other Pokémon in previous games, I wouldn’t have battled with them as much or struggled over which form of Urshifu to choose. There were definitely some aspects that felt a bit tedious, mainly the fetch quests, but overall I really enjoyed Isle of Armor and I think that’s down to it being a DLC as apposed to a repackaged Sword and Shield with added content.

WR: For me, Pikmin 3 Deluxe isn’t a game I shall purchase, as I have played the Wii U original. There are so many other games to play – I am confident I shall be busy either way! After this, we got the news of the distribution of Ash’s Pikachu with 8 separate hats, the first of which can be downloaded now with the code P1KACHUGET! I’ll continue on past this soon, and onto the Pokémon HOME and Pokémon GO news, but a quick word on this? Excited?

SB: I actually found out that there are two Cap Pikachus now available; the second one is through the code 1CH00SEY0U, and both are available now until November 30th. Honestly, I’m not that excited as I already got all these Cap Pikachus when they did a similar distribution for Gen 7, with the exception of the new World Cap Pikachu that reflects the cap Ash wears in the latest anime. Either way, I will be getting them again because who can resist a unique, free Pikachu!

WR: Right, onto the next part of the video, where we got news of Pokémon HOME now being compatible to connect with Pokémon GO, allowing you to send over Pokémon from the mobile game. Yet, there are caveats. It is confirmed that after sending over Pokémon, there is then an allotted time you have to wait before being allowed to send over more, unless you pay with PokéCoins, which does seem unnecessary and monetary-minded. Is there a reason for this other than creating extra financial gain?

I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pokémon GO players out there.

Stephen Brown

SB: The only reason I can think is to stop a flood of Pokémon ascending onto the HOME servers and overwhelming them. Remember GO is one of the most successful and longest-running Pokémon apps, with people having collections ranging in the thousands. If everyone tried to upload all of those in one sitting, I can see it causing a lot of technical issues. So, it could purely be from a logistics point of view, with the addition of money-making on the side. Who knows.

WR: But in that case, why allow it at all? Monetisation doesn’t need to be there. It appears really dodgy to me; do they really need another source of income? The aspect of how many Pokémon could be making the journey over from GO I get, but how they are implementing the restrictions is the side I do not agree with; it isn’t a pro-consumer move.

SB: It is really bizarre, especially with the changes they made when lockdown began, allowing players to keep playing from inside their quarantined homes. However, from what I hear, they have been making some strange decisions, turning some players off the app completely. Most notably, the Mega Evolution mechanic being overly tedious and complicated, all for a one-use battle boost. I think if sending over Pokémon was entirely monetary then I’d have a real issue with it. Again, as someone who’s not played the game in over a year, it doesn’t really affect me – but I imagine this has ruffled a few feathers for all the avid Pokémon GO players out there.

WR: Indeed, and now taking away the alterations they introduced so players could play at home seems badly timed, as it isn’t as though we’re all allowed back out… I shall say I am excited to finally get Melmetal, though, which is possible after sending Pokémon over to HOME from GO. I also have a certain friend who can send me them… I wonder who, aha! The Gigantamax form is awesome, appearing in a liquid metal style; with my favourite type being Steel, this is exciting for me. We were informed that the HOME/GO functionality is going to happen this year, too!

SB: Yeah, as of October, Pokémon GO will get rid of the changes they implemented… Let’s hope they decide to go back on that decision. Haha, I wonder who this friend is, I have a feeling they may have a few Meltans spare for you! Another Steel type for you to play with, and a new Gigantamax form as well! We were shown Gmax Melmetal earlier this year by accident in a Pokémon Showcase in Japan, but since then its appearance in the game has been a mystery. You couldn’t even transfer over a Melmetal and feed it Max Soup on the Isle of Armor to give it Gigantamax capabilities. I’ll be interested to see if they fix this with an update, or if we will have to find some new Max ingredient to allow Melmetal to Gigantamax, maybe Max Metal or Max Cake!

WR: The presentation was not over though, because we ended on my personal highlight, the “GOTCHA!” by BUMP OF CHICKEN music video that celebrated the history of Pokémon, with appearances from many different characters and a delightful art and music direction; BONES Animation Team were involved! It includes Jasmine, so yeah, it’s amazing.

SB: It was a brilliant and fun video celebrating the history of Pokémon, packed full of fan favourites from all the regions, and also celebrated the current generation of Pokémon with a big focus on Galar near the end half of the video. Previously, I mentioned that characters from other games might be returning, and we may have gotten a hint to this; at the end of the video, we see two billboards with Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra landscapes depicted on them. In addition, on the billboards closest to us, the Battle Subway Duo Ingo and Emmet appear on the left and on the right we see Nita, Evelyn, Dana and Morgan from the Battle Maison. Both of those locales have a focus on chain and double battles, so do we think we will see those characters appear in the Galarian Star Tournament?

WR: I’m not sure, that is possible, and would be really fun to see! Pokémon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more. Seeing all the characters in that video was just delightful, and it is no surprise to me that the physical single is selling very well! It is tempting to get it…

SB: My opinion is that it would be great to see them – and possibly other characters – return in a Battle Tree-style way, and that could be a secret we don’t learn about until the release of The Crown Tundra. We know with the success of Pokémon Masters that players love seeing trainers from all regions come together to compete in customisable teams; it would be great to see that reflected in the main series games. The physical edition is tempting, I wonder if that will ever come with some great big poster with all the trainers from the video featured – that would be epic!

Pokémon has such a wonderful history, and I hope they lean into that more and more.

William Robinson

WR: Maybe with the success of “GOTCHA!”, they shall make extra merchandise around it. I really appreciate the detail and references that went into the music video. It was a fantastic way to finish this presentation – I eagerly await October 23rd! We’ve covered most of the info now, so I’ll end with this: in your opinion, is this the end of the DLC plan for Sword and Shield? I personally don’t see them doing another DLC, with focus going on to the 2021 game; perhaps you see it differently.

SB: I could see extra merchandise happening – for now, though, I’m happy about the success of the music video and all the amazing references and detailed shots that capture the heart of the Pokémon series. In my opinion, another set of DLC for Pokémon Sword and Shield isn’t out of the question. If we combine the success of this DLC set and the fact that next year is Pokémon‘s 25th Anniversary, I think we could potentially get one or two more DLC packs quite early on in 2021, around February 27th, Pokémon Day. The rest of the year could be dedicated to the Pokémon Unite rollout, a summer release of Pokémon Snap 2, and then a mainline game, remake, or something else later in the year. All I know is that next year is definitely going to be packed filled with some great Pokémon content, and I can’t wait to see it!

WR: Don’t forget Pokémon Sleep, aha! February seems a bit soon for DLC in this vein, but perhaps it is dependent on how The Crown Tundra does. Either way, yes, I am excited for future Pokémon releases! This seems a fitting place and sentiment to end on, so unless you have any other comments, we’ll close out here.

SB: Ah yes, Sleep! I’m sure we will get further info on Sleep and more unique Pokémon app ideas soon. Nope, I think we’ve covered everything; hopefully we’ll now see a steady stream of short trailers as we run up to the release date of The Crown Tundra. I’m already super excited, and can’t wait to embark on another adventure!

WR: Awesome, thanks for joining me!

SB: Thank you for having me! It’s been great discussing Pokémon with you, and I hope your readers enjoy our thoughts.


Here we are, in the end segment of a Let’s Chat article once again! For official info on the Expansion Pass for Pokémon Sword and Shield, then you can go to this link. For more Let’s Chat articles, you can go here. I hope you have an awesome day!

Beyond the Hashtag: Pokémon Masters EX Update Pairs Style & Substance

Let’s get it out of the way: yes, the online hashtag for Pokémon Masters EX was a misjudgment (don’t make me write it down). However, if that is the main takeaway from this substantial update, it would be a great shame, as developers DeNA have brought a lot to the table here in terms of new content and mechanical refinements. It’s a fantastic way to mark the one year Anniversary of the game, and so for those who perhaps don’t know much about the update, and for those who do and would like to know my thoughts, I’m going to run through what has changed and how that affects the overall package. To read more of my thoughts on the game prior to this, then you can click here for my post on why Pokémon Masters is my favourite mobile game ever!

Firstly, whilst there are clear improvements to the game, it’s important to say that DeNA have not made drastic changes to the core 3-on-3 gameplay of Pokémon Masters that has been there since launch. You’re still choosing combinations of Sync Pairs to make a team to go into battle; much of the alterations have been to the surrounding framework of the game. This is to say that, if you were particularly fond of or against the gameplay of Pokémon Masters before this, the update won’t necessarily do much to alter that. However, if you perhaps thought that the game had potential not realised, this could be the time to jump back in.

Throughout this article, as I am going in-depth into some of the changes, I have included more videos than I do in some other articles to try and give you glimpses into the update. So, if intrigued, I recommend viewing them as you go along for extra clarity!

Right; one of the major changes is one that actually happened in the days leading up to the Anniversary, and whilst it may not be the change most prominent in the marketing, it is a very crucial one that directly affects how you play the game: the addition of Stamina. Every time you play certain matches (not all), it takes up part of your Stamina – this goes up to 999, and generally is taken in increments of 20 for each entry. Adding this in may seem at first to be a way to limit gameplay in the cynical way seen in many mobile games, and I am not going to say I am entirely in favour of a system that does have monetary transactions behind it. You get Stamina when you log in each day, and I have found I have plentiful amounts – but if you do run out, that is when the option to buy more intrudes.

On the other hand, I shall express my personal finding, which is that the addition of Stamina also has the opposite effect. See, arriving in tandem with it are Skip Tickets. These can be used to play out a battle instantly and automatically, sending you directly to the results screen. Your resources of Stamina are still used, but it allows you to cycle through the same battle multiple times at a faster pace. This gets you to rewards faster – and if this sounds as though it is short-cutting gameplay, then do not fret, as in order to be able to use a Skip Ticket on a battle you have to have not only completed it, but have finished with all 3 of your Sync Pairs not fainting; perhaps, you might say that you have to master (aha) the stage. In a way, the presence of Stamina provides a form of balance, making you more cautious about when and where you use your Stamina and Skip Tickets. The monetisation side is there, though, and again I shall emphasise that I do not welcome that.

An example of the new Stamina and Skip Ticket system in action is the recent New World Dilemma event that focused on Cynthia and Cyrus; by battling, you earned a currency that could be exchanged for rewards from a Prize Box (similar to the way the Scouts work for Sync Pairs), including unlocking further parts of the story. In this situation, the time investment of playing the same battle repeatedly to earn the currency is reduced significantly when you use Skip Tickets. It is a scenario that motivated me to play more of the game, because I knew that by using more of my Stamina and Skip Tickets I could get the prizes I am after without spending money.

With that context, now onto the additions for the Anniversary day itself. The reason why the game has EX added onto the name now – and that subsequent hashtag happened – is the new 6 EX Sync Pairs; previously, Sync Pairs each had a star rating from 1 to 5, but now particular pairs can go to the new 6 EX and get new outfits with that. The first Sync Pairs to get 6 EX are the following Kanto trainers and their Pokémon: 6 EX Sygna Suit Leaf & Venusaur, Red & Charizard, and Blue & Blastoise, all being capable of Mega Evolution (only Mega Charizard X for this, not Mega Charizard Y). New Sync Moves, with more power and new animations, arrive with them. The visual spectacle is fantastic, and I hope more new 6 EX and/or Sygna Suit designs continue to be rolled out in the future. I mean, we recently got to witness Sygna Suit Cynthia & Kommo-O. That hair! Seeing these new appearances and lore continues the way that Pokémon Masters excels at building on the Pokémon franchise.

Furthermore, to continue the Kanto theme, a brand new feature – one that gets a comparable screen space to the Main Story in the Explore menu – is the Champion Stadium. This is an area where you face the Indigo Elite Four and Champion: Lorelei, Bruno, Agatha, Lance, and Blue. From battle to battle, you are required to use different Sync Pairs. Careful consideration of the type dynamics is crucial, especially on the Hard difficulty; on Normal, I found working through the battles relatively straightforward, but on Hard preparing the right team is a puzzle in of itself. It’s great to see the challenge being supplied for players, as well as rewards for different skill levels. This is a mode that is going to be added to, with the appearances of the Pokémon League from different regions, an exciting prospect that provides longevity for the future.

Perhaps less prominent in the marketing is another new feature, Type Skills. These are new abilities that can be activated when your team of Sync Pairs is made up of Pairs of the same type, another new way to tailor your approach. It coincides with the way that DeNA have altered the Training Area, too. As well as the options that were there previously, such as the Level-Up area, there are new battles for getting items for unlocking Level Caps – which now go up to 125 – and the Type Skill of Sync Pairs. The Training Area is comprehensive, and a reliable way to get the items you need for your next personal target without needing to spend money on the game. Be prepared though, as these aren’t easy to complete!

At the moment, there are multiple ongoing events in Pokémon Masters EX, including the latest one, the Grass-, Fire-, and Water-Type Egg Event where you can hatch Kanto starters Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. As well as this, the Training with Legends event offers up resources you can trade for other items, in a similar vein to the New World Dilemma event – it’s a Skip Ticket candidate! How about the immediate future, you ask? On September 9th, the new Family Ties story event arrives, revolving around characters from Alola: Lillie, Lusamine, and Gladion. The idea of them having to improve their co-operation as a team of Sync Pairs works wonderfully with their stories in Sun/Moon/Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. My prediction is that there shall soon be news of 6 EX Sygna Suit Lillie & Clefairy to go with this, considering the event and their appearance in the new cinematic trailer for Pokémon Masters EX (see the video near the end of this post).

The variety of new features and refinements have an impressive balance of style and substance; there are the visual wows of the new outfits and Sync Moves, as well as an under-riding improvement to the game on a mechanical level with the Stamina/Skip Ticket system and other new features such as Type Skills. If one side or the other was not present, this could have been an underwhelming update, but as a combo it produces a cohesive overhaul that maintains the core appeal of the game. Key to success is that they keep up this frequency and quality of update; going on recent evidence, that is going to happen!

For me, there are no glaring weaknesses in the game or a particular area that needs more focus. As far as I am concerned, DeNA should put their attention on that which they are getting right, without falling into the trap of drifting towards the realm where some mobile games feel as though they are pressuring you into spending money.

I am confident that there is a bright future for Pokémon Masters EX, as the people behind it seem to be aware of why the game works so well. Playing with the Pokémon continuity is so fun – the game consistently makes me smile. DeNA seem to be leaning into this with the way the Champion Stadium is set up, the increasing frequency of 6 EX Sygna Suit designs, and the story content; the recent New World Dilemma and Summer Superstars events contained new lore on characters and new Sygna Suit and Seasonal designs. It’s great to see a developer responding to feedback in this way – consider me very excited about future possibilities.

There is so much potential for the avenues Pokémon Masters EX can go. The gameplay is reliably enjoyable, and the pace at which the game is adding to the foundations that have been built is very impressive. New updates have a distinct creativity and energy that have me excited to log into the game each day. The game, and the Anniversary update, are in my opinion a clear success!

Do you play Pokémon Masters? What do you make of the changes and additions? Who would you be most excited to see a Sygna Suit for? Whoever thought up the idea of creating costumes inspired by Pokémon is a genius. As for me, I’m going back to that 6 EX Sygna Suit Leaf Sync Pair Scout!

Seriously, though. That hashtag. How does that even happen?

Pokémon Café Mix Review

Developed by: Genius Sonority
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch (Reviewed), Mobile
Release Date: Out Now


One of the many nice surprises out of the first of the two recent Pokémon Presents was the reveal of Pokémon Café Mix, a new mobile and Nintendo Switch puzzle game about running a Pokémon-themed Café where both the customers and the employees are Pokémon! Whilst built on a reasonably simple idea, there is a decent amount of depth and longevity to this game to match up to the charming aesthetic.


A Link to the Café

As I say, the set-up is quite straightforward; together with *the only other human you see* Leah (is this a Poké-apocalyptic world?!), you set up a new Pokémon Café. As you’d expect, at the start of the game, you are running quite a basic operation with limited supplies. The main section of the game is the 150 orders to complete, which took me around 10-15 hours to get through and into the postgame. New facilities are set up as you work your way through the orders, opening up new sections of the Café and enticing more Pokémon to visit and subsequently work with you.

Yeah, that’s great, Leah, but where are all the people?

First, though, you have to get through said orders! The core gameplay of Café Mix is essentially a refreshing Pokémon twist on the icon-matching so often found in puzzle games. Presented with a screen of icons of the different Pokémon currently in your game, you use the touch screen to connect them up in a way that will complete the conditions of your order. Once an icon is selected, you hold your finger on the screen and drag it around to connect it up with matching icons within a period of time; at the end of the timer, or if you release your touch, those icons then satisfyingly disappear (and can affect those surrounding it). You score increases as you link more icons together in one go. Furthermore, once you connect enough icons, the Café Skill of your Leader Pokémon is made available.

These Café Skills act as extra tools for clearing levels, and are essential for progressing through the game. Before tackling an order, you must select a Leader Pokémon, and this decides the Café Skill available, with different Pokémon having different Skills. As an example, if the order requires you to make a high number combo, then Togepi – who can make icons transform into those of the icon appearing the most at that point – is helpful to set you up. Before each order, the game does inform you of the most suitable Pokémon, though it is possible to power through with another if you do not have access to them. At moments such as these, I often used other resources to help me through.


Altaria Motive

As a game for both Switch and mobile, these resources are where the mobile influence is very noticeable. For starters, you have 5 Hearts, and every occasion that you retry an order uses one up. If you run out, you can no longer attempt the order; these refresh over time, or you can pay for another go through Golden Acorns. Whilst you do earn these – and the other seven items that can help you complete orders – through playing the game, you can also purchase them with actual money. As Café Mix is free-to-play, this is the way the game generates revenue; however, when it actively feels as though a pay wall is put up in front of you it leaves a negative vibe.

Look at Snubbull in their hat and apron… and how happy they are… c’mon, that’s adorable.

This was most intrusive to me when I didn’t have the Pokémon with the suggested Café Skill for the next order, and it felt as though I either had to wait, or purchase items that would enable me to push through. I did not pay in my time with the game, and this meant I had to wait at several points – sometimes, until the next day. More side modes where you can work towards getting Pokémon to join your staff would have helped this; there is only the once-daily party that gives you two orders with random Pokémon (you can refresh the two invited Pokémon once for free, and then with Golden Acorns). Pokémon Masters is a great example of how to have plentiful modes that give the player options.

A barrier to gameplay such as this suddenly stops your flow and can be very jarring. It doesn’t help that the game is all over the place in terms of the difficulty curve; through the 150 orders, most of my troubles came with specific orders around the 50 and 90-100 mark. When I finally cleared these problematic orders, I would find that the next 10 or so are a breeze in comparison, whereas you would expect a more gradual overall rise of difficulty from 1 to 150.


A Mixed Bag

Personally, I reckon a reason for this is that the game sort of resets whenever new Café facilities are introduced. For example, the Whipped-cream dispenser causes blobs of cream to appear that take several hits of nearby combos to complete; the Nut tree brings nuts that can only be cleared by Café Skills; and the Honey pot introduces blocks of honey that multiply unless you remove them quickly with nearby combos. With the new type of gameplay mechanic, levels suddenly feel easy before then jarringly returning to being challenging again. Café Mix doesn’t hit the right balance of teaching the player whilst also understanding your rising skill level.

Whipped cream in action! Don’t question the physics.

Pokémon Café Mix is entirely touch-controlled (and on Switch, this means handheld play only), and whilst the touch control is responsive, the occasional moments where you select the wrong Pokémon as a starting point, locking yourself into those icons for that move, are not ideal. With icons so close to each other, it is very easy to select the wrong one. Once you get to the trickier, more complicated orders, every move can be crucial; the general inaccuracy of moving icons around with touch can be counter-intuitive to that.


Waffling On

The highlight of Café Mix is the presentation of the game. The Café itself, and the artwork for the Pokémon, have a colourful and trendy artistic appeal that befits a game about a modern Café. The game has a really warm, welcoming tone, and seeing Pokémon happily spending time in a Café and then wearing adorable outfits as staff is wonderful. The music is not intrusive, yet provides an undercurrent of soothing background tunes. I also recommend spending time going over the details of the orders you serve up; there are some brilliant and creative designs, from the Nutty Buneary Frappé to the Combee Waffles with Honey and beyond. Mmm, this makes me hungry and thirsty!

Those Fluffy Eevee Pancakes look GREAT.

My main complaint would be that there isn’t that many Pokémon currently in the game, with 17 at launch and 19 currently; the additions of Scorbunny and Sobble (and you would guess Grookey) from Sword and Shield suggest that they may be adding more over time, which would be great to see. In addition, as of writing this, tomorrow more orders are being added to bolster the 150 in the game at this point, which is another sign of how there are plans to support this game.


Final Thoughts

I was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of content within Pokémon Café Mix. A very unrefined difficulty curve and issues with how the game puts up pay walls are my main problems with it; yet, I can see myself loading this game up regularly into the future, especially if they continue to add new content. This is mainly due to the varied levels and the delightful look and feel the game has. The name of the game – Pokémon Café Mix – is suitable considered how mixed it is, but overall I would recommend putting time in and seeing if you enjoy it; especially for Pokémon fans!

7/10

Rating: 7 out of 10.

Why Pokémon Masters is My Favourite Mobile Game

Let’s establish this right away; I am not much of a mobile gamer. Even whilst commuting to a workplace in London for two years, I would more often listen to a podcast or read a novel (I know, shock) than play a game on my iPhone. I am a Pokémon superfan, yet even during the summer of Pokémon GO I wasn’t that absorbed by it; I played it, sure, but I dropped off quite quickly and haven’t really gone back for the numerous events since. The gameplay cycle was too passive for me and I wasn’t gripped by it.

The games of series I am already a fan of understandably have been the ones I have been drawn to on mobile. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links and Fire Emblem: Heroes have both held my attention for periods of time, but still, I found myself drifting away from them – especially as new console games in those series released for Switch. Yet, now, I am confident in saying I have found a mobile game that is, in my mind, my favourite gaming experience on the platform: Pokémon Masters.

This isn’t a new release, of course; it originally launched in August last year, very much with the public intention of adding to the game over time. If you are not aware, Pokémon Masters revolves around sync pairs, which are a duo of a trainer and a Pokémon. The trainers are either your own character or a known character from the Pokémon series, which immediately brings recognition to the trainers in battle. For a series with as much history as Pokémon, this adds a lot of personality – and is an area where for me, a game such as Pokémon GO is not as strong.

The crossover concept of Pokémon Masters got my attention, but I had been waiting for my favourite character in the Pokémon series to be added to the game before I really dove in. Once Jasmine was in the game, the appeal of her being in a team with characters such as Maylene and Candice was realised! You can also choose a sync pair to be there in the lobby screen, which for me is Jasmine and Steelix. The sense of being welcomed into the game each time is wonderful.

You arrange 3 sync pairs together to form your team for battles against 3 opponents, resulting in really fun combinations of characters. In the battles themselves, each of the 3 Pokémon on your side have up to 4 moves each they can use, depending on how much charge they take up (this increases over time in the battle, as in a JRPG series such as Xenoblade Chronicles). After a certain amount of moves, you can then select one of the three to use a Sync Move, which is a powerful attack accompanied by a cinematic animation similar to the Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves in the main series games. Sounds a lot like Pokémon but with a twist on the characters involved, doesn’t it? Exactly.

Left, out of battle; middle, the intro screen before a battle; right, in battle

Pokémon Masters really feels like a game made for the platform instead of a stepping-stone up to the console games in the series. The battling is both reasonably complex and also suitably less intensive for the platform, and the story – working your way to the Pokémon Masters League (PML) through chapters, meeting many different characters and the new enemy team, Team Break – is engaging and full of fun moments. Away from that you can also go into other modes, where you can train, face tough challenges and also find events bringing in new faces from the series (right now, there is one with Jessie, James, and Meowth from the anime, and one for Serena from X and Y).

It is crucial that there is a lot to do, too – often an issue with mobile games is that foreboding sense that you are being gradually enticed towards dreaded microtransactions. Make no mistake, that option is there, and I don’t necessarily welcome it; however, with all of the items you can earn, and the amount of different battles available where you can earn XP, the game is very playable without paying. The Gatcha element is getting new sync pairs, and your Gems are the way to have a go at getting new ones. If you complete your Challenges and play through the plentiful levels you can rack up the required 3,000 Gems to get x10 sync pairs. I find it is best to save these for when your favourite characters are featured (they have been gradually adding more and more from the series over time).

An element that really draws me in is how the game extends on Pokémon lore; each sync pair character has a story where you can learn more about them (these also build towards Pokémon Evolutions) and these have great references. For example, Gardenia mentions about Roserade being other types, but when the idea of Roserade being Ghost-type arises, she is clearly concerned about the idea – which ties into her uneasiness with the Mansion of Ghost-types in Eterna Forest in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. These references aren’t just in these sections, either; in the entry lobby area, there was a Black Belt who brought up a Dragonite using Hyper Beam… is this the one there when Lance uncovers the Team Rocket facility in Gold/Silver/Crystal? Callbacks such as this show me that there is an effort being put in to make Pokémon Masters a game that is not only faithful to the series, but one that builds upon it too.

The presentation video (see the video nearer the top of the article) puts across the awesome way this game has characters from different regions interacting together

This game has real longevity, as well. You unlock plenty of new types of gameplay as you go, from co-op with other sync teams to in-depth training that reminds me of the complexities of EV and IV training in the main series games. The story is extensive, and can be played on both Normal and Hard difficulties. As aforementioned, this also means more opportunities to get Gems. The regular updating of in-game events and training options keeps those modes fresh too.

Completing the air of cohesiveness is the visual and audio presentation of the game. The graphics and UI design are clear and impressive: the character models are detailed and expressive; the environments colourful and vibrant; and the battles themselves run smoothly on my iPhone, with energetic animations. The sound design has a similar energy, but even more impressive is the use of music from the main series. You get different themes for Gym Leaders, Elite Four, Frontier Brains, etc. which shows me that there is an attention to detail, as this is accurate to the main series – these have also been remixed, too, resulting in awesome new versions of the music.

Overall, this game has an air of being thoughtfully made for the platform and of not just being part of the Pokémon franchise, but bringing new gameplay and story experiences to that franchise. Perhaps I enjoy it so much because there is a focus on characters; in stories I really value great character development, and Pokémon Masters has multiple joyous character moments throughout it – which is just one aspect that keeps me regularly returning to the game. On a platform where I have not found many experiences that capture me, Pokémon Masters has become my favourite mobile game yet.

6 Nintendo 3DS Games to Play in 2018

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. The 3DS is old news! Put those games on Switch! But hold on two seconds – the 3DS had a strong year in 2017, and there are also a decent handful of exciting games coming to the platform in 2018. Yet, as Nintendo devotes more and more attention to their phenomenally successful hybrid system, it appears increasingly likely that this will be the last year where 3DS sees major releases. To help the 3DS line go out in style, then, here are 6 games to play on the portable in 2018 (going by European release dates):


Pokémon Crystal Version

Crystal

Let’s start with a throwback. Pokémon Crystal, originally a Game Boy Color follow-up to Gold and Silver, landed on 3DS Virtual Console at the end of January. We’ve already seen some of the earlier Pokémon titles pop up on the 3DS eShop, but Crystal is notable for a few reasons; this was the first game in the series to allow you to play as a girl, and also the first to have in-battle animations for the Pokémon themselves. Not to mention that the second generation was fantastic to start with, spanning two regions and featuring plenty of innovations – such as breeding – that have become series mainstays. If you’re looking for some nostalgic Pokémon fun on 3DS, Crystal is a great choice.


Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu Nintendo 3DS

Detective Pikachu has been out on the Japanese eShop since February 2016, but soon we’ll all be able to get a physical copy. The game will release in a lovely yellow 3DS case on 23rd March in Europe, North America and Japan, with a large-scale amiibo of Detective Pikachu available as well (because why wouldn’t it be). A physical purchase of Detective Pikachu will get you the original Episode 1, as well as all-new content in Episode 2; in-game, you play as Tim, who solves Pokémon-related mysteries alongside Detective Pikachu. With the film based on this game – which stars Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) – coming out in 2019, a western release for the source material makes a lot of sense. Playing the 3DS game is also a great way to brace yourself for the, erm, unique experience that film may end up being.


Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux

Shin Megami Tensei.png

With PokémonShin Megami Tensei and some of the titles later on this list, 3DS is still getting big franchises releasing games on the platform. Strange Journey Redux – coming May 18th 2018 – is a beautiful reimagining of the DS title Strange Journey, which never even came to Europe! This subsequently makes this a brand new Shin Megami Tensei JRPG for many 3DS owners. The core of the story is about a United Nations soldier who discovers a mirrored version of Earth – an Earth that is much more dangerous. Masayuki Doi has delivered wonderful new illustrations for the new release, and there is additional in-game content too; an enigmatic new character named Alex joins the story, there are additional endings, and even callbacks to other Shin Megami Tensei games.


Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

DQXI.png

This is another 3DS game that Japan already has, but will be coming to the west sometime in 2018. The long-running Dragon Quest series is often worth the wait, though, and in Echoes of an Elusive Age the classic formula of the turn-based RPG series continues. Story-wise, the player character finds out that he is the reincarnation of a hero and has to deal with the expectations that come out of that. As you travel the world of Lotozetasia, you’ll be battling various monsters and undertaking quests with your ever-changing team of colourful characters. The 3DS version of the game (it’s also available on PS4) lets you choose whether to battle with modern 3D visuals or retro-styled sprites, which is pretty neat! Look, yes, this is coming to Switch eventually as well – but we have no concrete date there, so who knows how long you’ll be waiting. If you’re a fan of the series, the 3DS version should be a solid option.


Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Radiant Historia

Just like Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, this is a JRPG re-release with new visuals and content. Another similarity is that they both have gorgeous art styles, and bring in a new character to add more intrigue to the story. In this case, your journey across the continent of Vainqueur introduces Nemesia, who can teach you about the world and even open a third timeline of events depending on how you play. Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology brings with it a majorly overhauled presentation, including new art, new music, New Game+, and more difficulty modes. It should be the best possible way to experience this turn-based time-travel JRPG!


Persona Q2

Persona Q2

After the massive success of Persona 5, it’s little surprise that publisher Atlus is trying to bring the beloved cast of the game to other platforms. A new spin-off will do just that on 3DS – to be specific, a sequel to Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. For now, we know little about Persona Q2; the website that came with the initial announcement still only shows an animated Take Your Heart logo (very similar to the insignia used in Persona 5). The Persona Q series mixes the world of Persona with the dungeon-exploring gameplay of Etrian Odyssey (another Atlus series), so it would be safe to expect a similar approach for the sequel. This is one of the more mysterious, but most exciting, 3DS games on the immediate horizon.


So, 3DS players, don’t fret; there are a bunch of exciting games coming in 2018. Frankly, constructing this list has raised my own interest in playing my 3DS again. Are there any games on this list that you are especially excited for? Look, I know the answer is Detective Pikachu

5 Switch Games We Need to Know More About

The big worry/criticism of Nintendo Switch right now is that, after a stellar first year, there isn’t much concrete news about 2018. After stunning re-imaginings of two iconic Nintendo series in 2017 – Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – what can they possibly do to match that going forward? Have they completely shown their hand already?

Well, while it may be hard to hit those heights, there is a lot of cause for optimism. Nintendo has several big games in development that we know about – and we are going to go through the biggest 5 that we need to hear more from this year. It may just reassure you; Switch has some big games on the horizon.


Yoshi

Yoshi.png

Let’s start with Yoshi. While maybe not at the level of a Pokémon or Metroid, a follow-up to Yoshi’s Woolly World (and the 3DS version, including Poochy) is a game to look out for in 2018. Unlike some games on this list, we even know what this one looks like (Nintendo spoil us, don’t they). Coming straight after the Metroid Prime 4 logo reveal in Nintendo’s E3 2017 Spotlight, and perhaps being missed by some as a consequence, Yoshi on Switch looks utterly adorable.

That hand-made art style, which started in Kirby’s Epic Yarn, is as beautiful as ever. Everything in the world looks like it could’ve been made by an inspired child, creating paper crocodile enemies and yarn Yoshis. The key game-changer this time around is an ability to switch around your perspective of the world, exposing the other side of these creations (the art style isn’t just for show) and allowing for clever puzzles.

However, Yoshi for Switch was a no-show in the Nintendo Direct Mini this month. A name, release window and more info on the game itself is needed, as you’d imagine Nintendo is targeting a release well before the winter. Either way, this is shaping up to be a solid Yoshi platformer that will be great fun in couch co-op.


Fire Emblem

FE

As is a running theme in this piece, we know Fire Emblem is officially coming to Switch – in 2018, even – but we know very little else about it. This was announced in a Fire Emblem Nintendo Direct on 18th January last year, along with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia for 3DS and Fire Emblem Warriors for Switch (Warriors released in October 2017). Despite this, we haven’t even got a specific logo yet. Even Metroid got a logo… Well, that’s for later in the article.

However, talking about Fire Emblem is important, as it could be a huge dark horse hit for Switch. It may not even qualify for the dark horse category, considering the rise to prominence Fire Emblem has had over the 3DS era. The utterly superb Fire Emblem: Awakening, Fire Emblem Fates, and the previously mentioned Shadows of Valentia have evolved Fire Emblem from a relatively niche series into one of the biggest on Nintendo handhelds. It is time for that to transfer to Nintendo’s popular new hybrid.

The gorgeous art style is just begging to be put onto that crisp Switch display. With the HD power of the console, it can not only make those fantastic cutscenes shine, but also elevate the rest of the game to a similar visual quality. As well as this, the turn-based strategy is already proven for handheld play. The likes of Awakening were masterful at keeping you going for just one more battle, until suddenly it is 2am and you’re wondering what you’re doing with your life. Now, you could play it handheld on the go, get home, and have the battle continue on the TV. Enticing prospect, eh?

If Fire Emblem is indeed coming this year, we surely have to hear about it soon. E3 seems too late, if we expect a Summer release date. It has been over a year since our first word on the title – may it soon be time to get some information? It is likely that there will be another Nintendo Direct between now and June, which would be an ideal moment for more news. Please?


Pokémon

Pikachu

Ah, Pokémon for Switch. Whether this releases this year may well define the success of Nintendo’s 2018. Perhaps the only franchise that can match up to Mario & Zelda in terms of mass appeal, the prospect of a full-blown Pokémon RPG on Switch is a salivating one. In a way, Nintendo has tricked Game Freak into finally making a mainline home console Pokémon title, by merging their handheld into the same system. Crafty!

Rumour has it that Nintendo is pushing very hard for a 2018 release date. Traditionally over recent years, Pokémon uses November as their release month – which does line up with President and CEO of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, saying at E3 2017 that the game may “… not release for more than a year…”. Last week, a survey did also potentially point to a targeted 2018 release date. This is one you will likely not see until E3 in June; Pokémon would be an ideal candidate to lead Nintendo’s holiday line-up.


Metroid Prime 4

Metroid 3DS.png

Metroid Prime 4 is not a 2018 game. Anyone thinking that it is… Get it out of your head now. Instead, move onto the unavoidable excitement of Samus coming to Switch in the future.

All good? Right. If you compare Nintendo’s first-party schedule to Sony’s for the PlayStation 4, Metroid fills the slot of The Last of Us Part II. It’s the return of an utterly beloved series, and likely looking at a 2019 release (despite what some people tell themselves). However, it is very possible for both games to unveil new information at E3 2018.

Nintendo may well give us something – maybe a glimpse of the gameplay; perhaps a tone-setting teaser ro establish the general setting. Remember, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption came out in 2007, more than 10 years ago. Will this game directly connect to how that trilogy ended, or essentially hit the reset button? The Prime branch of the Metroid series are traditionally first-person shooters, so that is what to expect.

A clever move that makes a lot of sense is announcing Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Switch. It would be brilliant for introducing the new audience of the Switch to the series in time for Prime 4, and keep fans happy whilst they wait. Similar to Zelda, and how the HD versions of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess filled the long wait for Breath of the Wild. Oh yeah, and who is even developing Prime 4? It’s not Retro Studios…


Retro Studios

Retro Studios

OK, it’s not even funny anymore. Retro Studios, what are you up to? After the Metroid Prime 4 reveal, many wondered if the studio was returning to the series that made them so well-known. Alas, no.

Their most recent game is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on the Wii U back in 2014 (which is being ported to Switch, releasing May 4th 2018). Around the rollout period for Tropical Freeze, producer Kensuke Tanabe told IGN that Retro Studios has been at work on a new game for a few months. If this has continued since, then the project would have been in development for approximately 4 years. Working on an established series and then creating an original passion project brings a vibe of Guerrilla Games and the incredible Horizon Zero Dawn last year. Could Retro Studios be creating Nintendo’s next big IP?

Until Retro and Nintendo decide it is time to say more publicly, there is little information for us to dig into. Little, but not nothing – take recent job openings at the studio, which have included an environment artist and a designer. The environment artist position is no longer available (hopefully a good sign), and the designer listing includes the writing of “game scripts” as one skill. This could all point toward a project with a focus on the creation of a living world. With Retro Studios’ track record, the prospect of them making something new is massively exciting.


That was 5 of the biggest projects we know are underway somewhere, in some secret locations around the world. We may not have to wait too long to see of them, and in the meantime, Switch is getting new games on the eShop every week. A lack of games isn’t the issue, finding time to play them all is…

Final note: add the inevitable Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker release (maybe even a sequel?) to the list, and the Switch may be the greatest console ever. You know it to be correct.