Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is no Gray. Or spoon.

So during the big Black and White press tour, one of the developers was asked about Pokemon Gray. His response was not unexpected: "We finished this story with the Black and White versions".


Now, I know I said that Word of God trumps all in this very space a few months ago. However, there's a point when executives have to lie. And asking about the sequel when on a press tour for the original is certainly one of them.

Is it possible that they could be cutting this generation off prematurely? They've thrown just about every other tradition out the door in the 5th gen, so it's possible. And I'm not sure if they would cross the White Forest/Black City, or just run both. However, it's incredibly unlikely that they would let this go early.

There's no less than four Pokemon or items (largely related to Kyruem) that would form the storyline basis for a 3rd version. And of course, follow the money. Because of the engine work being largely done and paid for, 3rd versions have maybe 20% of the production costs of the first two and have the built in hype of a new mainline Pokemon game to sell 6 million+ worldwide.

And you know what you call a company who (supposedly) announces new products while on the marketing tour for the existing ones? Osborne Computers. Or Sega, or Sony Ericsson, or Nokia. One of those companies is bankrupt, one is stuck whoring Sonic until the end of days, and the last one is in the process of becoming a subsidiary of Microsoft. (The 3rd one is basically irrelevant in its markets.)

Nintendo and its subsidiary companies all have a history of blatantly lying in their marketing, too.
"There is no GBA redesign in the works." - Official Nintendo statement, January 16, 2003. Guess what got announced the next day?
"The DS is a 3rd pillar of our platform strategy." - Nintendo, E3 2004. That lasted until Nintendogs/Mario Kart DS started printing money.
"The next Zelda game will launch in 2010." - Miyamoto himself, up until the E3 demo last year. Oops, now it's 2011.

The question becomes what platform Gray would go on, and I'm tempted to call it for the 2DS. Now, despite what Serebii Joe is claiming about the ease of programming DS->3DS compatibility (for trading and such), programming DS->DS compatibility and pointing out that the games can be played on the 3DS would probably be easier. There's always two sendoff games for the old system from Nintendo before they drop programming for portables - a Kirby game of some kind, and a 3rd version of Pokemon. The first of those two was announced last year with the 3DS launch announcement.

We don't have precedent to go with to decide, though. Crystal was Game Boy Color exclusive after Gold/Silver were dual-mode Game Boy/GBC games and the GBA was out in North America, while Emerald was a GBA game despite coming out after the DS release. In both cases though, the new system was not out in Japan at the time of Crystal/Emerald's release, which is why they got held back. And Crystal probably could have been dual-mode, all things considered. In this instance, unless Gray launches next week in Japan and nobody knows it, it's not going to beat the 3DS to market. And IGN (doubtful source) did have a reference to Black and White having 3DS enhancements up for a while but have since removed it.

But in the end, I think TPCi's (or Nintendo's, considering they're the majority shareholder) interest in ROI will win out, and I won't have to buy a new console that I can't friggin' afford right now to play Gray. I look forward to the February 2012 CoroCoro reveal, the September 2012 importation, and the March 2013 campout where I hand out Melotta and Keludo like candy.