Detective Pikachu Returns launched on Nintendo Switch earlier this month, continuing one of Pokémon’s many spinoff series. It follows in the footsteps of Pokémon Snap, which received a long-awaited sequel on Nintendo Switch in 2021.
Seeing both of these side series receive brand-new games on Nintendo Switch has certainly left me hoping that other Pokémon spinoffs eventually make a comeback. Some deserve bigger and bolder games to explore some new concepts, while others could just use a fresh coat of paint on modern Nintendo hardware. Here are five Pokémon spinoff series that I hope are next in line for new installments.
The first spinoff series that needs to make a comeback is Pokémon Ranger, which hasn’t seen a new entry since Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs in 2010. In this side series for Nintendo DS, players were the titular Rangers instead of Pokémon trainers and served as ecological Peacekeepers for regions exclusive to these games. They feature some of the wildest plots of any Pokémon game and feel different from most other Pokémon games because of their unique capturing system that has players drawing lots of rings around a Pokémon to tame them.
While the stylus-driven gameplay does heavily tie this series to the DS, a new entry could replicate that experience with motion controls or find a new design approach to taming Pokémon entirely. I grew up playing the Pokémon Ranger games in addition to the mainline series and loved the distinct gameplay experience and look at the world of Pokémon they offered. I’d love to see a developer make another attempt at exploring this concept on modern Nintendo hardware.
The Pokémon Rumble series started with a WiiWare game that saw Pokémon toys come to life and fight each other in isometric action combat. It did get new entries on 3DS, Wii U, and even mobile, but the eShops for the two Nintendo systems are now gone and the mobile game Pokémon Rumble Rush was shut down in 2020. While this spinoff series had a solid run for a decade, it has gone dormant. I really hope to see it make a comeback.
While all of the Pokémon Rumble games were fairly simple, they provided an entertaining action-focused Pokemon experience, a kind that’s just unavailable on Nintendo Switch. I’d love to see this spinoff series’ game concept return and even get the AAA treatment — think a Pokemon version of Diablo IV.
Technically, this is the most recently supported Pokemon spinoff series on this list, as the remake Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX came out on Nintendo Switch in 2020. Still, we haven’t seen an original Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game since 2016, so a new sequel feels long overdue. The Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series always stood out because of its dungeon-crawling, roguelite format and because it told stories where Pokemon were the main characters.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX played smoothly and looked fantastic, so there’s definitely potential for developer Spike Chunsoft to expand on that while telling a new story. Hopefully, it can get to that after February 2024, which is when it releases Shiren the Wanderer: The Mystery Dungeon of Serpentcoil Island, the latest entry in the series that inspired Mystery Dungeon.
The Pokémon Pinball series had a short but memorable run across the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance. They did a fantastic job at combining the fundamental ideas of pinball with core Pokémon concepts like monster catching. It’s pretty surprising that the Pokémon Company has not revisited this concept in the age of the digital storefront, where a light and breezy pinball game like these could fit really well on a handheld game platform.
Unfortunately, there has not been a new Pokémon Pinball game in over 20 years, and the Wii U Virtual Console rerelease went away with that system’s eShop. Zen Studios has seemingly mastered the modern pinball video game, so why not get it to create some new pinball boards themed to Pokémon or an outright successor to these Pokémon Pinball games? At the very least, the original games need to return via Nintendo Switch Online.
I recently had the chance to try the Pokémon Trading Card Game for the first time, thanks to Nintendo Switch Online. I was shocked at how well this older version of the card game transitioned to video game form, even if it is very slow and the UI feels pretty dated. As card-based games are more popular than ever across PC, console, and mobile, the concept of a card-based Pokémon RPG is ripe for a modern refresh.
Unfortunately, it does not seem like we’ll get a follow-up anytime soon. That’s because when it comes to the Pokémon Trading Card Game, the main focus of the Pokémon Company is on competitive play. As such, the main video game version of it is the competitive-focused Pokémon TCG Live for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Still, we hope to see this card game explored in a single-player experience again someday.
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