CULTURE

New Professor Oak Has Major Boomer Energy in Pokemon Home

Professor Oak has evolved into Grand Oak, and it's not pretty.

The Pokemon Company

Pokemon's cloud-based storage system, Pokemon Home, has finally been released for Nintendo Switch and mobile devices, and there's a major surprise in store for longtime fans: Professor Oak is back.

Everyone's favorite Pokemon professor, the man who gave many of us our very first Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charmander in Pokemon Red & Blue, has returned to assist us in bringing our old friends into the modern era. Except Professor Oak has changed. Oh boy, has he changed.

Professor Oak The Pokemon Company

In a horrific twist of fate, the Professor Oak we once knew, the Professor Oak who elegantly sported a white lab coat and said quippy phrases like, "The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the Pokemon!" is gone. Or rather, he's evolved.

Grand Oak The Pokemon Company

Now calling himself "Grand Oak" and sporting an overgrown gray mane of hair, a popped collar, and green arrow rave glasses, the world's foremost Pokemon professor has hit a late mid-life crisis.

Currently, Grand Oak seems much more likely to brag to trainers about his Jimmy Buffet cover band than to actually provide any helpful insight into the world of Pokemon. By this point, Grand Oak has undoubtedly purchased a motorcycle and most likely bought into some racist conspiracy theories about "the kind of people who join Team Rocket." He also got very mad when his grandson, Gary Oak, asked him to remove those stupid glasses––like seriously dude, you're in your 70s, what are you thinking?––and has firmly decided that Gary's entitlement validates his vote for Giovanni.

As time moves on, the Pokemon franchise does, too. You either die a respected Pokemon professor, or you live to become whoever the hell Grand Oak is.

CULTURE

Why Pokemon Home Is Overpriced

Pokemon Home has some cool features, but the price is a tough pill to swallow.

The Pokemon Company

After months of teasing, Nintendo has finally revealed the details about Pokemon Home, their new cloud-based Pokemon storage system. Unfortunately, it's pretty underwhelming for the price.

In fairness, Pokemon Home offers some cool features. Similar to Pokemon Bank––the former Pokemon storage system for 3DS––Pokemon Home functions as a...well, home, for Pokemon from all your previous games. That means with Pokemon Home, you can transfer your favorite monster from Pokemon Bank, Pokemon Go, Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu & Let's Go Eevee, and Pokemon Sword & Shield, essentially allowing you to bring any Pokemon you've ever had to your Nintendo Switch. There are a few catches though.

Pokemon Home The Pokemon Company


For one, the majority of transfers are one way. Aside from Sword & Shield, with which Pokemon Home is cross-compatible (as long as a given Pokemon exists in Sword & Shield), once you send a Pokemon to Pokemon Home, you can never send it back to its original game. The other exceptions are the Pokemon Let's Go games, which do allow you to send Pokemon back unless you ever transfer them to Sword & Shield, at which point they, too, are barred from returning.

Compatibility issues notwithstanding, Pokemon Home also offers some nice trading features, including the ability to request specific Pokemon from a global audience and a "Judge Pokemon" function that allows players to check how strong their Pokemon are. But the real shining gem of Pokemon Home is its revamped National Dex, which will include multiple Pokedex entries from across the various Pokemon games and special entries for Mega and Gigantamax forms. Players can even check out Pokemon moves and search by abilities.

The problem is that all of this, while nice to have in one place, comes at a considerably steep price for what's being offered. While Pokemon Bank was available on the 3DS for $4.99 per year, Pokemon Home is set to cost $2.99 per month or $15.99 for a full year discount. Moreover, Pokemon Home only works alongside a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, which adds an extra $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year. Ultimately, if you primarily use your Switch for Pokemon, you're paying roughly $36 per year to access Pokemon Home.

Pokemon Home does have a "Basic" free version for people who have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription but don't want to pay nearly double for Pokemon storage; it's borderline useless, though. While the "Premium" Pokemon Home service allows players to deposit up to 6,000 Pokemon, the Basic plan only allows a measly 30. Basic subscribers are also barred from using the Judge Function, hosting trade rooms, and most importantly, transferring from Pokemon Bank (which likely houses the vast majority of long-time players' monsters).

If all of the features included with Pokemon Home truly were novel, then there might be an argument for the Premium price. But global trading and "Judging" is available in Sword and Shield, and if the judging in Pokemon Home is an improved version, then there's no reason not to implement it in the game people already paid $60 for. So at the end of the day, players are spending $15.99 annually for a necessary transfer function and an updated Pokedex...and that's assuming they already use Nintendo Switch Online.

Of course, $36 in a year isn't an exorbitant amount of money, and if transferring your most cherished Pokemon from game to game is important to you, then it's money well spent. At the same time, Nintendo charging so much more for Pokemon Home in comparison to Pokemon Bank, despite not providing any real justification through functionality, feels like a low-blow to lifelong Pokemon fans.

Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

A few days back, I made some statistical predictions regarding the content of Nintendo's first Pokemon Direct of 2020. I couldn't be happier to say that my predictions were totally wrong.

I went into the 1.9.2020 Pokemon Direct expecting to see a dissertation on Pokemon Home, Pokemon's new cloud-based storage system––useful, but boring. In fact, I calculated new Pokemon Home content at a 100% likelihood. But while Pokemon Home was briefly mentioned with an estimated launch window in February, we didn't learn any new information about it.

On the other side of the coin, my tempered expectations for everything else (i.e. all the fresh Pokemon content I actually want) were completely overturned.

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Switch Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Right off the bat, Nintendo announced that Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, the roguelike, dungeon crawler Pokemon spin-off that ranks amongst my favorite video game franchise spin-offs ever, will be coming to Nintendo Switch (I estimated the likelihood of this to be 0.3%). Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, set to release on March 6th, seems to be a combined version of the previous Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team games with updated graphics and new features like Mega Evolution. We've been waiting over four years now for a new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon entry, so it's hard to overstate how hyped I feel about this.

And that was only the first few minutes of the new Pokemon Direct. The rest of the time was focused on detailing the brand new Pokemon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass, which will give trainers access to a whole slew of Pokemon DLC content starting in June. There's a lot to dig into here.

First things first, the new Pokemon DLC will come in two parts (sold together for $30), "The Isle of Armor" and "The Crown of Tundra." Each opens up an entire new part of the Galar region complete with new characters, new trainers, two new rivals (Klara, who seems ripped straight out of Demon Slayer, and Avery), new storylines, and yes, new Pokemon. Better yet, both new areas function in the same open-world style as the Wild Area, so there should hopefully be lots of room to further explore the world of Sword & Shield.

Pokemon Sword and Shield DLC Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Most importantly, though, the new Pokemon DLC brings along more old Pokemon into the new generation––200 in total. So while the Galar Pokedex still won't include every Pokemon from past games, these expansions will get players a good deal closer to a Gen 8 living dex. Players won't even need to purchase the DLC to get access to the "new" old Pokemon, as a Day One update will make all copies of Sword & Shield compatible with the new monsters. But what new Pokemon are included?

Oh...you know...all the best ones, pretty much.

Garchomp is back to overtake the meta with his upright shark badassery.

Garchomp Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

All the Gen 1 fans who complained about only Charizard getting a Gigantamax form have a lot to look forward to, as well. Both Blastoise and Venasaur are returning, and yes, they can both Gigantamax.

Gigantamax Blastoise Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company


Gigantamax Venasaur Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

The Gen 8 starters can Gigantamax now, too, and for the first time, I'm actually regretting not picking Cinderace. He's standing on top of a giant flaming rabbit ball like an anime villain, and it's actually super cool.

Gigantamax Cinderace Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

All of the old legendary Pokemon are coming back, too. That means Mewtwo. Oh, and the Legendary Birds are getting new Galarian forms. Galarian Articuno has f*cking laser beam eyes. Insane.

Galarian Legendary Birds Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

As for new legendary Pokemon, we'll be getting two new Regis alongside the return of Regice, Registeel, and Regirock. They don't have names yet, but the designs suggest Electric and Dragon typings.

Galarian Regis Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

We're also getting this weird new big brain Bunny legendary named Calyrex. It's pretty creepy the more you look at it.

Calyrex Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Speaking as someone who has been playing Pokemon since Gen 1 and actually really loved Sword & Shield, flaws and all, I couldn't be more excited for the new adventures Gen 8 still has in store. Hopefully this will be enough to ease up some of the toxicity leftover in the community after Dexit, too. After all, it would be a shame for so many members of the fandom to miss out on all the fun.

CULTURE

A Statistical Analysis of What Nintendo Will Announce in the New Pokemon Direct

Using rigorous research methodologies to assign each Pokemon Direct theory a real-world statistical likelihood.

Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

With the new Pokemon Direct suddenly announced for tomorrow morning, fans are wondering what new franchise information might be divulged.

After the widespread disappointment with Pokemon Sword and Shield amongst the hardcore Pokemon fan community, plenty of theories are flying around regarding potential new, upcoming Pokemon games. But I'm not here for mere Pokemon theories. As a man of science, I've used rigorous research methodology to assign each of these theories a statistical likelihood of being announced in tomorrow's Pokemon direct. These are my results:

New Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Game – 0.3%

Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

I want a new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game just as much as you do. Out of all the Pokemon spin-off titles, nothing beats the concept of a roguelike game wherein you can play as basically every Pokemon. But we need to be real, here. Even thinking about a new Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game is setting ourselves up for disappointment. The chance that this sudden Pokemon Direct will include Mystery Dungeon is even less likely than the chance that Inteleon will be joining the Super Smash Roster.

Inteleon will be joining the Super Smash Roster – 10%

Inteleon Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Pretty much everyone hates Inteleon. Its design is scientifically proven to be the worst Pokemon starter design in the history of the franchise. Just look at those proportions. What is wrong with this thing? But kind of like Taylor Swift's career, Nintendo is fueled by communal rage. This means that if a new starter from Pokemon Sword and Shield joins Smash, it's almost definitely going to be Inteleon. Why? Because you hate it.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remake – 20%

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remake Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Gen 4 is probably one of the more underrated Pokemon generations. Save for Lucario, most of the Generation 4 Pokemon get very little attention in newer games. To some extent, this is understandable––the Gen 4 starters weren't especially inspired and, with the exception of Arceus, the Gen 4 legendaries also failed to make a splash. That being said, Sinnoh was a fantastic region, heavily based on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, with regional myths and legends seamlessly blended into the map. Fans have been clamoring for a remake ever since Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire released in 2014, and if Nintendo wanted to bring back the "hardcore" community's good will after Sword and Shield, this would be the way to go. So yeah, chances are low.

New Pokemon Sword and Shield content – 60%

Pokemon Sword and Shield Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

The post-game for Pokemon Sword and Shield is pretty sparse, all things considered, so it's reasonable to assume that Nintendo will be adding some sort of fresh post-game content at some point. While it's unlikely that we'll see all of the lost Pokemon reinstated, there is a chance that we'll see the return of some of our old favorites. That, or maybe they'll just add a few new Gigantamax Pokemon forms and call it a day. Either way, more Sword and Shield content seems like a reasonable update for any Pokemon Direct in the near future.

Pokemon Sleep updates – 80%

Pokemon Sleep Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Does anybody actually want Pokemon Sleep, the new, innovative Pokemon app that plays while you sleep? Who knows, but Nintendo is giving it to us anyways. To be fair, if Pokemon Sleep encourages people to sleep as well as Pokemon Go encouraged people to walk, Nintendo could actually lead the way for a more rested, more functional society. Considering Nintendo's recent focus on the mobile front, updates on their latest Pokemon app game seem like a relatively safe bet. Here's hoping it'll help the bags under my eyes.

Pokemon Home updates – 100%

Pokemon Home Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

We're going to be getting some updates on Pokemon Home, 100%, no doubt, whatsoever. Pokemon Home is Nintendo's newest cloud-based storage solution intended to tie all the recent Pokemon games together, including Pokémon GO, Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, and Pokémon Sword and Shield. The prior Pokemon storage application, Pokemon Bank, will also be compatible with Pokemon Home. So yeah, this is Nintendo's next big step in fully integrating the Pokemon franchise into the modern era, and frankly, if tomorrow's entire 20-minute direct is wholly dedicated to Pokemon Home, I wouldn't be surprised.