Theory Crafting -- Why Pokemon Let's Go Johto Could Be Next Week's Big Pokemon Reveal

Could the "big project" mentioned at the end of today's Pokemon Presents be Let's Go Johto? Scott seems to think so, and here is why.

This morning’s Pokemon Presents gave fans reasons to smile and celebrate. Long time fan-favorite Pokemon Snap at long last was getting a new entry, and a couple of cool new titles were revealed, Pokemon Smile and Pokemon Cafe Mix. While other Pokemon fans were focused on those, I was taking in the surroundings of the presentation and the “big project” that will be revealed next week; a project that I feel confident will be the next line of Let’s Go games, this time, in Gen 2’s Johto Region. Let me explain.

From the moment that the Presents video started, the one thing that stood out to me was the prevailing Johto theme of the background. Directly behind Ishihara-san, laid out in a line, were the legendary beasts and starters from Pokemon Silver/Gold/Crystal (along with good buddies Mewtwo and Lapras), with an Eevee plush hanging out with its second-generation pals Espeon and Umbreon. Up at the top, you can see Politoad, Sudowoodo, and Ampharos; also Gen 2 beasties.

Now to be fair, there is also some Detective Pikachu swag, a Slowpoke, a second Lapras, and the latest starters from Sword and Shield, among other knick-knacks (including the special edition Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee Switch consoles). Still, the overall vibe screams “Johto,” with subtle nods to the existing Let’s Go titles.

We already know that Nintendo views the Let’s Go series as a more casual, spin-off series from the mainline Pokemon titles. It’s been this way from its initial reveal when they clearly stated to fans that a new mainline title was in the works, which would turn out to be Sword and Shield. They had no qualms back then about having both projects known about: why would they have an issue now when, as far as we know, there is only a single DLC expansion left for Sword and Shield? It would stand to reason then that–after the end of development on Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee–the team would move onto a new game, perhaps even the follow-up.

What better follow than with a game where they could reuse so many of their existing assets? For those of you who aren’t old enough to have played the original games or the remakes, HeartGold and SoulSilver, after completing the Johto Pokemon League you could then go back and explore the Kanto region, where Red/Blue/Yellow/Let’s Pikachu and Eevee take place. Well, they already have a beautifully recreated Kanto region done, so why not move over to Johto next?

As of now, we have no news yet on what the next Pokemon entry will be. It has become rather popular in recent years with the likes of Call of Duty (and previously Assassin’s Creed) to split development between multiple studios to release a new game in a series annually. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that the Let’s Go team has been working on their game for either a 2020 or 2021 release. I admit though that announcing a Pokemon game outside of the year it would release in is uncommon and the main counterpoint to this theory, and I see zero chance that this hypothetical game would release this year.

Nintendo doesn’t have an issue with people knowing about two titles like Let’s Go and a mainline generation game, and I think they want the DLC expansions for Sword and Shield to breathe and thrive this year. That would make 2021 the most likely release choice, and big Pokemon games love to release in the fall ahead of the holiday season. That would put this announcement next week as showing off a game more than a year away from release.

So if it’s not a Let’s Go Johto game, what do I think the big Pokemon project announcement next week could be? Well, I feel strongly it will involve Johto in someway. We already know about the Switch version of Detective Pikachu, so based solely on his presence in the background, it’s possible that that game could take place (somewhat) in the Johto region. I see this one being a stretch just from the wording Ishihara-san that used at the end. If it was news on Detective Pikachu, I don’t know why he wouldn’t have simply said: “We have news about the upcoming Detective Pikachu Switch title next week.”

The second option will be adding unique Raid battles to Sword and Shield, where you will be able to catch Gen 2 Pokemon like the starters and legendary creatures that were displayed. The problem with this idea, though, is would that be considered a “big project?” They’ve announced new particular Raid battles adding new creatures before, and haven’t referred to as such; why start now? It’s a weak possibility, but possible nonetheless.

The last option, I feel, is that they are going to announce a new expansion DLC for Sword and Shield for this winter, or a pass of content extending into 2021, which will take you to the Johto region. Creating a whole new region as a part of a DLC expansion would undoubtedly fall into the “big project” category and fit well. The timing of the announcement wouldn’t be that strange either since the first piece could release this winter, and it wouldn’t impact but only help bolster sales of Sword and Shield this holiday.

Regardless, we won’t have long to wait. The next Pokemon announcement will come a week from today (June 24, 2020), one long agonizing rumor filled week…

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Scott White

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