Over the last decade, the developers at GameFreak have remade its older Pokemon games in-between its newer releases. With significant improvements over their original incarnations and channeling the unstoppable power of nostalgia, the Pokemon game remakes have continued to win the hearts and minds of fans both new and old alike, with said games being among the highest-selling titles for each gaming system that houses them. However, many of these older Pokemon games often have a third version release: an updated version that houses enough new features and a shuffled Pokemon roster to warrant a separate release. While the Pokemon remakes have been of the original two games of any particular generation (Heart Gold & Soul Silver being remakes of the original Gold & Silver, for example), versions like Pokemon Yellow or Pokemon Crystal have not been given the same treatment; rather, elements introduced in these versions were incorporated into the remakes of their predecessors (the Suicune subquest from Crystal being integrated into Heart Gold & Soul Silver immediately comes to mind).
A single trademark registration changed, however, challenged this trend.
A week or so ago as of this writing, internet sleuths discovered that Nintendo had recently trademarked Pokemon Delta Emerald. For much of the general gaming public, something like this went relatively unnoticed. Even the webmaster of Serebii.net (one of THE most popular Pokemon fansites on the interwebs) stated that the trademark registration "is not likely to be indicative of a game release, but rather covering bases." And while many of our fellow D-toiders were quick to call out the potential cash grab of a third game alongside the recently-announced Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remakes (and rightfully so), it wasn't immediately evident that Nintendo was planning on bucking the past trend of remaking *only* the original iterations of any particular pair of games any time soon.
At least, that's what I thought.
Back when Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green were being released, "Pokemon Water Blue" was actually trademarked by Nintendo despite such a game never seeing the light of day. Given the obvious connection between the original Red and Blue and the thematic naming elements for the remakes, it was pretty obvious that Nintendo's choice to trademark "Pokemon Water Blue" was to keep it out of the hands of would-be bootleggers, giving the Big N the absolute legal right to pursue anyone who tries to publish such a game, black market or otherwise. So when "Pokemon Delta Emerald's" trademark made the news, I initially thought Nintendo was just repeating what it did years ago.
But the more I thought about it, the more I began to wonder:
"Why Delta? Why specificallyDelta? There's a load of Greek symbols to choose from, but Nintendo specifically trademarkedDelta. It'd have made sense if they trademarked every Greek symbol in the book and attach Emerald to it, but they only chose one..."
In any case, with the announcement of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire being direct remakes of the original Ruby and Sapphire, the trademark registration of Delta Emerald kept on a low profile was all the more interesting, especially given the fact that E3 was less than a month away and that Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire's announcement was made THE very same day that Nintendo published its third year of operating loss in a row, obviously to soften the blow and keep people distracted from the news of Nintendo's dwindling profits. Even more interesting is the nature of the original Pokemon Emerald version and its relation to Ruby and Sapphire, and what it means if such a remake was released today.
Back in the day, many people whined that these guys looked more like Digimon than Pokemon...
An Emerald Legacy
When Ruby and Sapphire were released back in 2002 in Japan, GameFreak designed both games to feature a similar plot but with one key difference between the two versions; while you tackled the villainous Team Magma organization to thwart their misguided release of the earth-shaper Pokemon known as Groudon in Ruby version, you combated their archrivals, Team Aqua, in an attempt to stop their resurrection of the ocean lord Kyogre in Sapphire. Pokemon Emerald, released in Japan in 2004, combined the stories of BOTH versions, creating a scenario where you fought both Team Aqua and Team Magma, preventing the annihilation of Hoenn from their foolish attempts to gain control over the forces of nature, leading to your character calling upon the game's flagship monster Rayquaza to quell the fury of both Kyogre and Groudon.
Where Pokemon Yellow and Crystal were slight upgrades to Red/Blue and Gold/Silver respectively, Emerald became THE definitive version to the Ruby/Sapphire saga, combining the story of both games into one cohesive plot in addition to adding a more expansive post-game quest in the form of Battle Frontier, alongside the usual myriad of upgrades and shakeup of the in-game Pokemon roster.
From a business standpoint, a remake of Emerald released as-is alongside Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire would result in cannibalization. Why produce a game that's essentially better than its brethren at the same time on the same gaming console? Simple: you don't.
You put it on the more expensive platform instead.
An Ace in the Hole
Nintendo wants to make more Wii U sales. In fact, one of the leading culprits behind the third-annual operating loss for the company was the Wii U's low install base. Simply put, the less a system is sold, the less games being bought for said system, which snowballs to Nintendo getting less money. A main-series Pokemon game release usually results in a major boost to any particular handheld's sales (relatively early on in a system's life cycle, at the very least), so why not put a main-series Pokemon game on the Wii U? A Pokemon adventure fleshed out for the Wii U (remake or otherwise) could significantly improve the system's sales, as well as be a game that really bridges the 3DS hardware with the Wii U together.
Basically, the 3DS handhelds get the remakes for Ruby/Sapphire, and the Wii U gets the superlative remake of the definitive Emerald version - a console Pokemon adventure fans have been asking for, in addition to being a remake of a game people have been wanting for years. You kill two birds with one stone.
I'm jumping to conclusions so soon, aren't I? A trademark suddenly appears, and rather than dismiss it as mere copyright protection, I instead attribute it to be an actual third-version game of a set of remakes - a Wii U game, no less. A pretty bold claim with not much to back it up with, right?
Perhaps. But then I remembered a particular video I saw nearly a year ago.
The Truth Behind the Teaser?
Watch this video footage from a trade event in Japan, featuring a Pokemon gaming montage leading up to Pokemon X/Y's release:
Did you notice anything after the release date for Pokemon X & Y was shown? Right around the 2:12 mark on the video, a mysterious clip featuring Blaziken and Lucario squaring off against each other is shown. This footage made its rounds throughout the Pokemon community when it first came out, with fans speculating on what game it was possibly hinting at before the video was forgotten over the months that passed.
Perhaps we have finally found our answer. Not a Pokemon Stadium game, not a Tekken-styled brawler...but the hinting of a full-fledged console Pokemon adventure. And what better a match would it be than the recently-trademarked Pokemon Delta Emerald version, a release that would capitalize on the significant demand for remakes of the journey through Hoenn.
I don't think it's a stretch to suggest that this isn't just a series of coincidences at this point.
So, let's break this whole scenario down shall we?
1) Mysterious footage shows up at the end of a Pokemon game montage during an event show in Japan
2) Nintendo announces Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire the same day that it announces its third year of operating at a financial loss; hastily put-together Youtube video announces the games will be coming this year for the 3DS.
3) Pokemon Delta Emerald suddenly trademarked nearing the release of E3 2014.
4) Because of significantly better graphics shown during mystery clip, footage hints at a game not on the 3DS but on the Wii U console
5) During E3 2014, Nintendo announces Pokemon Delta Emerald as the ultimate version of the Generation III Pokemon remakes, exclusively for Wii U
Meanwhile, Fox reminds Rayquaza that Star Fox really needs a comeback on the Wii U...
Of course, all of this speculating is just that: speculation. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong - I'm taking this with as much a grain of salt as you should be taking after reading this, along with any sordid rumors you'll likely read from now until E3.
That being said, I think I might be onto something, and I thought I'd share it with you guys. In any case, thanks for taking the time to read this!
About Ghalheart One of us since 6:17 PM on 07.28.2011
I'm Ghalheart! I'm some guy who indulges in video games and video game culture.
I enjoy many different games and franchises but, above all, I love talking about the Pokémon games the most. Chances are, if you're reading my blog, you're going to see mostly Pokémon-related topics, with a smattering of other gaming-related subjects thrown into the mix.
Whether you agree or disagree with the things I write or say, I appreciate every moment you take to read my blog. With that said, I hope you enjoy reading my stuff as much as I enjoy writing it!