The Pokémon Company threw a couple of curveballs during today’s Pokémon Direct. A Nintendo Switch port of Pokkén Tournament was, if not shocking, a small surprise. But it was the brief reveal of Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon for Nintendo 3DS that perked up viewers’ ears — because the name they were expecting to hear was Pokémon Stars, a Nintendo Switch game.
Even before the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon in November, rumors about Pokémon Stars ran rampant. The game reportedly would expand on Sun and Moon and be available on Switch, the first Pokémon adventure title to be offered on a home console. Fans pointed out several signs over the months following that seemed to corroborate this initial claim, like old, removed Pokémon Direct presentations and star-themed merchandising.
The announcement that a Pokémon Direct would air just before E3 2017 sent that speculation into a fever pitch. The expectation was that, finally, we would see what Pokémon Stars — or any Pokémon RPG — would look like on Nintendo Switch. Turns out the only Pokémon game we’re getting on the console is Pokkén Tournament DX. Instead, the Pokémon Sun and Moon revamps many looked forward to are actually called Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and they’ll be available just on Nintendo 3DS — a console that’s more than six years old at this point.
Across the board, fans weren’t too happy.
“I’m skipping Ultra Sun and Moon,” wrote Pokemondelrey on Reddit. “I just can’t go back to the 3DS.”
“Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon not being on Switch is a fucking travesty,” said Powerman293.
Twitter’s full of similar posts, both infuriated about another Pokémon RPG skipping the Switch and Stars’ non-existence:
People who want Pokemon Stars be like pic.twitter.com/LfRE4tXUen— Akfamilyhome (@akfamilyhomeak) June 6, 2017
Guessing Pokemon Stars is the new Half-Life 3?— Andrew Reiner (@Andrew_Reiner) June 6, 2017
ppl: they either going to announce diamond and pearl remakes or pokemon stars on the switch. that's it.— ✨✨✨ (@universe) June 6, 2017
Retweet to pray for the warriors who have fallen. pic.twitter.com/1zi27p3NCq— Masahiro Sakurai (@SmashBros_Nin) June 6, 2017
Yet a small “clerical error” on The Pokémon Company’s press site gave fans renewed hope that we’d get a substantial Pokémon game on Switch this year. Under Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the company listed the Switch and wrote that those versions remained to be announced.
Le site presse de The Pokémon Company indique une potentielle sortie de Pokémon Ultra Soleil et Ultra Lune sur Nintendo Switch ! pic.twitter.com/w1vMumRmHd— Pokebip (@Pokebip) June 6, 2017
The official press release about the games also failed to mention the platforms they were coming to, which further built up speculation.
After checking in with The Pokémon Company, however, Polygon received a statement that this was a mistake.
“Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon are coming exclusively to Nintendo 3DS family of systems and are not due for release on Nintendo Switch,” a representative told us (emphasis theirs). “This listing on the Pokémon press site was made in error and is not indicative of future plans. Please refer to the Pokémon Direct for more game details.”
Stepping back, the lack of Pokémon Stars — or what have you — on Switch makes sense. The Pokémon Company has always been slow to adopt new console generations; take Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, for example, which launched on Nintendo DS just after the Nintendo 3DS hit retail. A mainline Pokémon game leaving handheld to be available on a home console as well could also run the risk of fracturing the multiplayer fanbase.
At least we’re getting new Pokémon games at all, even if they’re an “alternate story” from last year’s installments. Ultra Sun and Moon are out on Nov. 17.