E3 2021 has passed and contrary to the expectations of many Animal Crossing: New Horizons fans, Nintendo did not announce a Legend of Zelda crossover. A crossover was a reasonable assumption considering the franchise is approaching its 35th anniversary and the recent Super Mario crossover was to celebrate its 35th anniversary. Pokemon is another extremely popular gaming franchise with releases slated for late 2021 into 2022, as well as celebrating its 25th anniversary. Will Nintendo take the opportunity to boast interest in New Horizons with a Pokemon crossover event and what would it entail?
The Super Mario crossover provided New Horizons players with Mario and Lugio outfits and the opportunity to decorate their islands with many of the items encountered in the Marioverse. The most impressive being working warp pipes, which can provide fast travel across your island.
New Horizons already offers players a wide variety of clothing and accessory options, including custom player designed items. These articles can be worn by the player, gifted to villagers to wear, or displayed on walls.
Likewise, the clothing stores of Pokemon offer a similar variety of choices, along with preview and purchase functionality. A crossover event could deliver dozens of regional, trainer, gym, and miscellaneous Pokemon designs to New Horizons to be bought or shaken out of a tree.
Crossover apparel choices can even extend to the numerous Teams that have harassed Pokemon trainers in games and the Pokemon anime over the years, especially the ever tenacious Team Rocket. Wigs could be another offering for those times when you really want to let out your inner Jessie or James.
A Pokemon crossover can deliver a wide variety of themed wallpaper, carpeting, ornaments, and furniture. Exterior housing options have the potential to transform your home into a Pokemon Center or favorite gym. Just as New Horizons players can build a boxing ring, a crossover can provide a Pokemon battle field or stadium. Of course, having a place to battle pokemon implies pokemon will be present and this is where a crossover gets a little complicated.
Pokemon and Pokeballs
The goal of a Pokemon Trainer is to find and catch wild pokemon, to be employed in battles against other trainers, and eventually claim the title of Pokemon League Champion. This does not translate easily into a game about island development and socializing with villagers. However, a path forward can be the pokemon are toys and not living creatures.
New Horizons does not have pets, unless you count showing off your captured bugs, but players can display plush puppies and dinosaur toys on their islands. The same functionality can be used to offer pokemon toys. Presenting pokemon this way acknowledges them as fictional creations to be enjoyed, and not similar beings to your villagers, some of which look like they can be pokemon, or at least, close relations. Personally, I think it would be cool if pokemon scaled under this scheme, so a 47 foot long Wailord would be appropriately huge compared to a knee high Pikachu.
Aside from pokemon themselves, the defining element of the Pokemon universe are the Poke Balls utilized by Pokemon Trainers. The twenty-seven current designs are based on the catch rate ability and specific attributes of the particular Poke Ball.
Poke Balls can be presented in New Horizons in several ways. They can be decorations for wall and table display, but similar to the Super Mario warp pipes, the most fun will be gained by having them as functional items. Poke Balls can be a player tool, like the net, used to catch bugs by being thrown at a bug or targeted spot. The captured bug would then be sucked into the Poke Ball just like a pokemon. Poke Balls can also be a passive effect of placing a pokemon toy, by displaying the animation of the New Horizons player tossing the ball and the pokemon emerging.
While pokemon battles can be thrilling (especially when I beat my son), they do not fit with the New Horizons island vibe. Instead of battling, when a player tosses a Poke Ball near a villager who has been gifted a Poke Ball, the villager will release their own pokemon, and the two pokemon toys will bop and dance, making everyone in the immediate area happy. The same will occur when releasing a pokemon near another player who chooses to release their pokemon.
Another, possibly more satisfying, option is to have player vs. player pokemon battles available via traveling to a competition island. Two players stand in designated spots and release their pokemon. The toys face off, exchanging an automated series of type attacks, until one toy breaks. Players visit an island NPC to repair their damaged toy, if they want to continue battling, or receive a reward for winning. Returning to your own island automatically repairs all damaged pokemon toys.
These are ideas on what a Pokemon/Animal Crossing: New Horizons crossover could look like. An actual event, if it were to occur, can look very different. What do you think of a Pokemon crossover, and what other titles would make for a fun and enthralling New Horizons event (Persona 5, anyone)?
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