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Are Pokémon re-releases worth waiting for?

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Rumors swirl that Sun and Moon’s third version is coming to Switch

Pokémon Sun and Moon screenshots The Pokémon Company

The Pokémon Company previously confirmed plans to release a game in the series on Nintendo’s next home console, and a new report from Eurogamer suggests that it could be coming next year. Anonymous sources told the website that the mid-2017 Switch release would be a third version of the just-released Sun and Moon pair, called Pokémon Stars.

The report is unconfirmed, but it isn’t surprising: Nearly every generation of Pokémon games has included a third, definitive iteration of the originally released pair. That we’re hearing about a possible companion release on the same day of Pokémon Sun and Moon’s release is poor timing for Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, even if it’s reportedly not due until late next year. But those buying Sun and Moon often hold out hope that there will be a another version of the game in the works, whether it’s again for Nintendo 3DS or the new Nintendo Switch console.

A refined re-release of the initial pair of Pokémon games has hit shelves in nearly every generation of handheld role-playing games. They often add new features, revamped graphics and occasionally new storylines and characters. This precedent has been set for 18 years, when Pokémon Yellow launched on Game Boy as a reworking of Red and Blue. The game added new sprites, Pikachu as a starter Pokémon and different monsters to collect than the earlier titles.

If Pokémon fans can correctly assume that these third versions are coming more often than not, why don’t they just hold off on buying into the new Pokémon generation until it arrives? It could be that they’re eager to get playing already and are unwilling to wait until a third version. It could also be the reasonable doubt in a third version’s timely release that drives them to pre-order the original pair on release. 2013’s Pokémon X & Y bucked the trend and didn’t receive the expected Pokémon Z companion, for example, despite strong suggestions from the games themselves that it would be coming.

Or it could be that third versions aren’t always worth waiting for. If another take on Sun and Moon comes to Switch, it will reportedly feature high-quality visuals, although other rumored Pokémon Stars details are scant for now. It’s possible it could tweak Sun and Moon’s strong story or broaden its optional content offerings, which we found in our review to be a bit lacking.

Ultimately, though, players will be running through the same exact map to collect mostly the same Pokémon and fight the same trainers. Even Pokémon Yellow and Pokémon Black 2/White 2, re-releases that really deviated from the games they iterated on, didn’t dramatically alter the gameplay in ways that made them required playing. To wait for a third version is just to prolong getting into the new Pokémon RPG experience.

Nintendo Switch promises to be a console quite unlike any Nintendo system we’ve seen prior, which is standard for the company. That could also be true of Pokémon Stars, if that’s the Pokémon game we’re getting for it next year. Looking at Pokémon Crystal, Emerald and Platinum, however, suggests that it’d be unwise to assume there’s really anything worth skipping out on Sun and Moon for. Each one had new modes or features, but all else considered, they didn’t change too much from the games from which they were derived.

Expanded content is always great, but when it comes to Pokémon, waiting it out isn’t always worth it.