It’s pretty safe to say that the Pokémon franchise is in a bit of a weird situation at this point. Although its spinoff media has been at a consistent high for some time now, Sword and Shield failed to attain the reception expected from a mainline entry in such a major series. The brand now finds itself at somewhat of an impasse, which could explain Nintendo suddenly scheduling a Direct for today; to let fans know what direction these beloved games will take.
Ishihara opened the direct straight and to the point, transitioning into old footage of the original two mystery dungeon games, setting the chat on fire in excitement for the reveal of a remake called Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Not much was revealed about the game, but the models and environments all had whistful shaders that gave a hand-drawn look to the art style. Pokémon released after the original games like Lucario are shown off too, implying that the game will be far more than just a simple remaster, though what other additions might be coming remains undisclosed and probably will stay that way until release, as we’ll only have to wait until March 6th for release.
Masuda and Ohmori of Game Freak took the proverbial stage next to talk about Sword and Shield. One could feel a tinge of defensiveness, as they spoke in broad terms about the game’s merits, hoping everyone had a good time. This led to the announcement of a new season pass for the game. Presented as a contemporary alternative to the old Crystal business model of re-releasing Pokémon games through a third updated version, which would later be revealed to cost $30 USD.
Beautiful watercolor stills then transitioned into concept art of new areas customization options, bikes and new Alolan forms for Venasaur and Blastoise as The Isle of Armor expansion was revealed.
Game Freak’s Tani announced that the expansion would be set on the eponymous island that players could explore like the Galar wilds. He spoke of a theme of growth present throughout a new campaign set on the Isle of Armor and its natural vistas, primarily centered around a dojo where players will train with one of two new rivals (which rival you get is determined by which Pokémon game you play).
A new legendary was revealed in the form of Kubfu, a small fighting type bear players can train to evolve into Urshifu, who has single-strike fighting/dark form and rapid strike fighting/water type form. Urshifu’s 2 styles each have their own gigantamax form, which we learned through a beautiful pre-rendered cinematic that shot the two gargantuans like Godzilla-esque kaijus. Exclusive moves for each style were confirmed as well, though not revealed quite yet.
Game Freak, never one to slow down the pace, cut to the next expansion. Viewers were greeted with more watercolor stills of a snowy region with art of the classic Reggies before a new duo of the Hoenn legendaries were announced. And we do mean new, as these guys look way too distinct to merely be regional forms, with new types like Electric implied in their designs. The legendary birds trio did get some regional forms though, which lead us straight to a repeat of some Isle of Armor Footage. ...Oops
The Crown Tundra title card was played afterward, correcting the mixup and bringing a name to the second expansion whose art we’d been seeing. Tani explained that the second expansion will focus on exploration. Exploration of what exactly? We’re still not completely sure, but the area will also work just like the wild area and the trailer showed off an expansive mountain range along with concept art of caves and mysterious giant trees. This exploration will also undoubtedly lead players to Calyrex, a psychic/grass type bipedal deer Pokémon with a necklace of orbs with triforces in them and some sort of plant bulb in its antlers. We don’t get much information about it as we did with Kubfu, but we do get a taste of lore, as it apparently used to rule over a part of Galar, including the titular tundra.
A new co-op mode is also announced for the second expansion, as multiple trainers can team up to spelunk in underground Pokémon dens where we’re told that legendaries from all previous games will not only be found but capable of gigantamaxing. More post-game battles are also announced, but not revealed yet either.
The 2 segments are presented as separate parts, implying they can be purchased individually for those not buying the pass. Regardless, The Isle of Armor releases June 2020 and The Crown Tundra releases Fall 2020.
Beyond these expansions, the Final evolutions of Galar starters are shown to have new gigantamax forms and G max moves and new customization options like a Rotom bike skin. Players will also have better odds of running into special gigantamax Colossal, Lapras, Flapple and Appleton in raids. The Galarian Slowpoke leak is also confirmed to be accurate, with the little guy only evolving into Galarian Slowbro/Slowking through evolutionary items.
But in what was probably the most needed announcement in the eyes of many, Pokémon Home support was finally announced for Sword and Shield starting February
And then the direct went dead as Ishihara was speaking. Again, oops.
Author's Note: What did you think of this Direct? Are you planning on buying these new Pokémon expansions? Do you care way more about the Mystery Dungeon remake than anything related to Sword and Shield? Are you mad that no Galar Pokémon were confirmed for Smash DLC? Whatever the case, drop a comment to let us know.