So an unverified image has me thinking about Pokemon for Nintendo Switch, and how things are lining up to give us an idea of how the game will at least look.
Pokemon Switch is almost expected to launch in 2018, we find out if that has changed with Nintendo’s financial briefing on the 26th of April, but an unverified image doing the rounds that no one can seem to debunk is leaving some concerned. However, that concern is probably not justified.
So this image is quite simple, it shows a trainer in a water area riding a Lapras, like in X and Y, Sun and Moon etc. and while this isn’t new, the art style and quality of the visuals shown show what many call an up-scaled 3DS game. This obviously is leaving many disappointed, as Switch is leaps and bounds more capable than the 3DS.
However, I posit that this…is exactly what we are going to get. It is in essence going to be a “3DS game”. At least, underneath in the code it is.
What am I talking about? Well there are a few things pointing in this direction that the Switch game will reuse the engine used for the 3DS games, hence the similarities, just updated for HD and more complex animations and effects and so on.
First is the most well documented – the in battle models for Pokemon up-scale to HD with simple mods in the “Citra” emulator for 3DS. They look strikingly good and with some new texture work, the models are already HD.
Creatures Inc., the company responsible for modelling Pokemon, has evidently future proofed the geometry of the models, and with some touching up, as shown by the simple mods on 3DS, they are already good to go for HD development. A simple time-saving measure of course, but it is notable that the 3DS engine can support what is easily a HD model (Textures aside).
However, if we are to go even deeper than that, there is one fact unifying the 3DS and Nintendo Switch that makes use of the 3DS engine very probable: The Nvidia Tegra X1.
Now what do I mean by this? Well it’s simple, the Tegra X1 is an ARM based chip. What is ARM? ARM is simply a RISC architecture (Reduced Instruction Set Computing). This means it takes fewer cycles to perform instructions. What ARM exactly is, isn’t important.
So ARM is the underlying architecture of the Tegra X1 used in the Nintendo Switch, it makes sense, it’s a battery-powered device. But what many people don’t know, is the 3DS is also an ARM based system.
Now the 3DS chips are significantly less complex than a Tegra chip, obviously. Dual core, much lower clock speeds, ARM11 chips vs the much newer technology and faster speeds of the Tegra, but the point stands that at their base, the level at which operations are performed, they share an architecture. Now there may be differences between the 3DS and Switch in how advanced that architecture is, but the way they process information will be remarkably similar at least.
So what does this have to do with the 3DS Pokemon engine? Well, everything. Why would they make a brand new engine, when the one they already have can store and use what are effectively HD quality models, be very easily modified to use said models at high resolutions, and is designed for the ARM architecture?
My reasoning is that Game Freak will port at least the core of the 3DS engine. The work has already been done. It’s compiled for ARM, and it already handles some of the assets at a level many people are happy with, just not on the 3DS hardware.
They most likely won’t bring the engine as is, instead choosing to modify that common base for Switch for API use and to better utilise what the system can do, but the image shown above that shows the rumoured appearance of Pokemon in HD?
It may not be that far from the truth.
Thanks for reading, and I could as always be completely wrong, who knows? They could CryENGINE for all we know! Whatever the game looks like however, I am fully prepared for an evolution of how it looked on 3DS, if the work has already been done at least use it.
Of course feel free to share this, see what you think, maybe someone out there knows something I don’t about the relationship between 3DS and Switch that either debunks or enhances this theory, but that’s all it is for now, a theory. Happy gaming!