Big news from the Pokemon Direct

 Yesterday’s Pokemon-focused Nintendo Direct wasn’t quite what anyone was expecting, but it did deliver on big news for the franchise. First off, it revealed Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX, a remake of the original pair of Mystery Dungeon games that were released on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS back in 2005. While I’m happy to see this series return, I do find it odd that the list of playable Pokemon hasn’t been expanded at all from the originals, meaning that only Pokemon through generation 3 are represented. Either way, if you want to give this game a try or return to a gem from your past, the remake will be released on the Nintendo Switch on March 6th. A demo is currently available on the eShop.

But this was just a preamble to the main announcement, one that should please a lot of fans. Rather than sequels or alternate versions that change little and make you start over from scratch (e.g. Ultra Sun or Platinum), an Expansion Pass was announced for Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. The pass includes two DLC adventures: the first is called The Isle of Armor, releasing in June, and the second is called The Crown Tundra, releasing this coming Autumn. Each expansion will take players to new areas that are designed like the Wild Area, allowing for free exploration. They’ll also include brand new Pokemon (including several Legendary Pokemon), new Gigantamax forms (including ones for the starter evolutions), and the return of more than 200 existing Pokemon that were cut from Sword and Shield. What makes the last part extra exciting is that the returning Pokemon will be added in free updates, meaning that even if you don’t buy the DLC, you can still trade for the returning Pokemon or transfer them over from Pokemon Home. The only new information we learned about that service is that it will be released next month.

Personally, I’m thrilled by these announcements. They address practically every problem and concern that I and other fans had about Sword and Shield. Transferring the returning Pokemon for free will be a relief to the Dexit crowd, even if it still isn’t the full National Dex, with a new form of the cut Pokemon Slowpoke even available in the games right now. With more story, more regions like the Wild Area, and more legendary Pokemon, these expansions address pretty much every weakness I identified in my initial review of Sword. If you’re as excited as I am, you can pre-purchase the Expansion Pass now. It includes both expansions for a total of $30, and comes in separate versions for Sword and Shield. Doing so will unlock new clothing items in the game immediately, if that makes a difference to you.