The Next Level of Pokémon

What will Pokémon look like when it turns 30?

The Next Level of Pokémon
A super effective evolution may arrive in the form of a virtual reality MMO. Photo by Denise Jans / Unsplash.

As gamers, we are rarely satisfied. I have barely accepted the consideration that our beloved pocket monsters have reached the age of 25 and yet I feel compelled to open discussions for Pokémon at 30, even though it's an event that will not take place until 2026.

If we were satisfied with the status quo of the games, than they would never have evolved into what they are now. We would have continued merrily along our way as players of the original, blissfully unaware of what else could be done, happy in our ignorance.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, as we should all appreciate what we have. Yet while we can appreciate the now, there is always that desire for evolution. I love the original 151 Pokémon and have fond memories of staring down at the Game Boy (complete with magnifying glass) on Christmas. Still, I know we can't go back to that.

I have now seen Pokémon in three dimensions. I have seen Pikachu without his beer belly and cannot return to the past where he has it again. I can appreciate what the original games were and retain great memories from them, but I need to see more from my favourite critters in the future.

Pokémon Violet – A Missed Opportunity

In many ways, there have been more Pokémon games over the past few years than ever before. Release after release after release – which is a good thing – but as I saw with Pokémon Violet, there is danger in rushing games out of the door.

Pokémon Violet was as enjoyable as it was frustrating. The previous game, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, laid the ground for the open world that Violet would build upon. While this worked well it does also leave the experience vulnerable.

Source: Polygon.

When I use the word vulnerable, I'm referring to the fact that you can complete gym battles and defeat legendary Pokemon or Team Star battles too easily in Violet. Because the map is large, it's easy to get lost in and wander into a battle that you are not prepared for.

Because I had more Pokémon and could heal and use snipe attacks, which, as actions, felt very hollow, I ended up completing the middle section of gym battles ahead of time. This made the other in-between experiences that were left behind feel too easy when I got around to doing them, making the game feel very hollow to complete. In addition to the many glitches, it felt like a wasted opportunity for the open-world format.

Nintendo Switch 2

There are more than two and a half years left until we see the final plans for the Pokemon 30th anniversary celebration, and I am hungry for more information. Without those plans, I am left with speculation.

By 2026 the assumption is that Nintendo will have released its follow-up to the Switch. We could see the Switch 2 or we could see one of the odder names that Nintendo seems to like to use, such as:

  • N64 (well-loved)
  • GameCube (loved by me but did not capture the hearts and minds of the time)
  • Wii (Well-loved)
  • Wii U (a misstep that was quickly swept under the carpet)
  • Switch (well-loved)

With the knowledge of past console launches in mind, I am nervous about the successor to the Switch. As much as I love the GameCube it never grabbed hold of the market in the same way that the Wii or Switch did. This is why the successor to the Switch is, from a personal pessimistic view, set up for disappointment: it has a lot to live up to.

Pokémon at 30

With the Switch 2 looking as though it will be the primary operating platform of the next generation, I'm nervous. Due to the history of Nintendo's other consoles' fluctuating successes, it could go either way, and whilst I admire the company as an organization, the perception and sales figures of past platforms speak for themselves.

My hope for Pokemon at 30 would be that we receive the first always-online adventure. What I mean by this is that we have a world, starting with one map – which is say, the Kanto region – and then expanding it out from there, akin to how an MMORPG operates.

If we are expected to believe that Ash Ketchum has traveled across the world – visiting all the regions – in a year, what's to say that players can't do the same? It would be great if future games could reset the clock to take everything that has come before and build upon it.

Nintendo could create a fully immersive experience that is continually evolving with different roles that could be customized or chosen. You could start out as:

  • A traditional trainer
  • Member of Team Rocket
  • Gym leader
  • or general trainer, with the outlet being that every player you meet is real

Once you have managed to ‘graduate’ from Kanto and achieve all of your objectives for that region you can then move on to Johto and continue your journey accordingly. This could ensure that everything is interconnected in a manner unlike any previous Pokemon games.


Rather than consistently purchasing a new game in a new region like we do now, they could make the most of a live service that can be enjoyed at different access points. But each expansion could be placed behind level restrictions to prevent people from jumping to the end.

You could be a player who has spent a year playing the game or a player who has just begun, it wouldn't matter, they would still be able to participate. With this kind of game, we could live out the dream that we all had when we initially booted up the original Gameboy.

A Final Thought

Pokemon at 30 will be a huge point in my life to celebrate. It will hopefully mark the launch of a new type of experience, one that pays homage to the past while also offering something new. An evolution that I can enjoy with my future children, with them superseding me as they explore the world and I look after the gym back home.

Will my wish come true? No one can say for sure, as I don't work for Nintendo and it takes a level of intricate design and planning to create a game of that caliber. But with the roles that people could embody in the expansive cast of the Pokemon world, it would increase the lifespan of the game in a way never seen before.

It is a dream but it is one that I believe many would be happy to get behind in order to further evolve the franchise.


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