Ok guys, let's have a chat about those 'leaks' that have been doing the rounds this week.
By now you've no doubt seen the buzz online that the forthcoming Pokemon Switch game/s may have been leaked online ahead of what's likely to be a reveal this month (or at the latest, at Nintendo's E3 Direct in June).
Things kicked off with what's honestly, a pretty vague and mostly meaningless, post from a well known breaker of NDAs, Emily Rogers. The general tone of the post was effectively that Pokemon Go might be an influencing factor on the next Pokemon games - potentially also including some sort of new accessory that we can only assume would effectively be a next generation PokeWalker, given the context. Ultimately, it's a bit like saying the sun will come up tomorrow, but it was enough to set tongues wagging.
Coincidentally, that very same day, a logo popped up on 4Chan purporting to be for the new Switch games and calling itself Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu. The logo itself doesn't have anything to it that really demonstrates it as being legit to be honest. Apart from the fact it looks like it's been drawn in felt tip, the quality and angle of the photo of it are more likely hallmarks of being a classic fake.
That didn't stop the internet taking Emily Rogers statements along with this logo and putting 2 and 2 together to get whatever they wanted, though.
If this were all there were to this story, this is rightfully where it would end. And it certainly wouldn't have been posted here. However, the rabbit hole continues and - as it stands - the pieces are starting to come together to indicate that, actually, there might be something to this one.
The next twist in the tale came, again, from anonymous posting on 4Chan. While it's fairly common for people to post such 'leaks' of game details - particularly Nintendo and Pokemon ones - as a troll, the reason this one stuck out was down to it not only aligning with Rogers comments and the logo - but because it's not actually the first time we've heard such rumours about the Pokemon Switch game.
Eurogamer's Tom Phillips commented today that his sources - who previously informed him about Pokemon Stars, a project we're all fairly confident was in fact at one point, a thing - had told him previously that the game would be a 'sort-of-remake of Pokemon Yellow' and based in Kanto. Those details - that the game would be set in Kanto and would be a kind of 'reboot' for the series - have come up before in previous comments from leakers with a track record for being proven right when it comes to Pokemon info. At this point, that's enough smoke towards that particular detail to actually start putting some money behind it.
Which all kinda made this particular image - originally uploaded on the 31st March this year (yes, just in time for the 1st April) - end up coming back to mind.
It's a classic fake screenshot that anyone who's been in this game long enough to have seen dozens of them would instantly dismiss. It's an off-screen photograph, taken on a potato, that's conveniently blurry enough that it could effectively mask the fact it's just a modified version of Sun/Moon running on a 3DS emulator. At least, that's what we all took it to be at the time.
But now we can start tallying up some things that we've seen and heard multiple times from multiple sources:
It's certainly a lot of separate pieces of data that would seem to pull together in such a way that, much like a magic eye picture, if you squint you can just about make out the complete picture.
- The game would be at least influenced by Pokemon Go - something we can see in the screenshot above in terms of the Pokemon being visible out on the map, not unlike Pokemon Go. As well as the purported name of the games.
- The games would star Pikachu and Eevee, and being somewhat based off of Yellow, would include those Pokemon following you around. In the shot above, we see Eevee riding on the player's hat - coincidentally in exactly the way Pikachu does in the anime.
- The games would be set in Kanto - and the image above sure does look like it'd pass for an upgraded version of Kanto's Route 21.
But, it's worth keeping in mind that even up to this point, all of this information is effectively still worthless. Rogers' post may provide context to make some sense of the rest of the purported data, but it's not really of any value on its own. The logo, the quote dump and the screenshot all come from anonymous sources and none of it represents anything that could be particularly impossible to throw together as a hoax.
But, things developed further when the company that generally represents Nintendo in domain name purchases bought the domains pokemonletsgopikachu.com and pokemonletsgoeevee.com. As well as letsgopikachuletsgoevee.com. The same company registered the Sun and Moon domains immediately before their announcement too, as well as controlling Nintendo.com.
It's not enough to immediately indicate any validity to the names - brand protection is literally this company's job, so even if these games weren't legit, buying these domain names so no-one else can is a move that only makes sense now that they've blown up across the Internet. But, it does help nudge things a little further down the road.
Ultimately, until an actual announcement - or at least until the official trademarks with logos are filed - it's utterly impossible to say whether or not there's any truth behind this entire thing. After all, the Internet was once thoroughly convinced that this was the long-fabled Nintendo NX (what would become the Switch) thanks to some incredibly thorough hoaxery. It wouldn't be unlikely we'd all get hoodwinked again.
brand work that's been going on in Japan lately to promote Eevee as a franchise star character. It might also give new context to Junichi Masuda's Pokemon Day message this year, where he shows up holding a plush Pikachu and Eevee:
Taking inspiration from Pokemon Go, we would also see more Pokemon out in the game world itself. Potentially removing the classic style of random battles and instead allowing you to seek them out directly. Perhaps the capture mechanic of the game would also change somewhat, but it seems fairly unlikely it'd actually follow Pokemon Go's entire setup there.
It would certainly seem that, by having the base of the game functionally complete - and by setting the game in a region that is at least developed enough to have an easy bedrock to build upon (hopefully with plenty of new changes and ideas) - it opens up the door to reinvent large parts of the rest of the game. Perhaps that's what we will still see, regardless of how truthful most of the above details are.
Either way, it's very unlikely we'll have to go much longer to wait to find out the truth. Once we have some real information we'll bring it your way, so stay tuned.