Pokémon Stars Version (lost enhanced Nintendo Switch port of "Pokémon Sun and Moon" Nintendo 3DS role-playing games; existence unconfirmed; 2017)
On November 18th, 2016, Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon were released for the Nintendo 3DS as the first instalments in the seventh generation of the Pokémon series. A month prior to the game's release, Nintendo officially revealed the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid console able to be used as either a home console or a portable console. For this reason, speculation about a mainline Pokémon game for the Switch began. However, during this time, no plans were made.
Around the release of Sun and Moon, Eurogamer reported on November 18th, 2016 that they heard from multiple sources that a game under the codename of Pokémon Stars was currently under development with a projected release date of late 2017. This indicated that similar to previous generations of the Pokémon series, a third entry would be released, this time on a different console. Enhancements of Pokémon Stars supposedly would have included new Pokémon along with a higher resolution for the game, being played at 720p. Rumors started circulating on the Internet about a mainline Pokémon game being released on a home console, whereas all previous entries in the main series were exclusive to handheld systems. Over the next few months, the Pokémon Company would start a campaign named "Look at the Stars" with the release of star-themed merchandise. Shortly thereafter, series director Junichi Masuda posted a tweet containing the words "Pokémon Stars", which some interpreted as a potential teaser for the game. Speculation rose when an Amazon UK listing for a game called Pokémon Stars was uploaded in mid-2017, with pre-orders being sold. The listing featured no cover art, and the release date was listed as January 2030, suggesting it may have been a fraudulent listing.
On June 6th, 2017, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon were announced as enhanced versions of Sun and Moon for the Nintendo 3DS. On The Pokémon Company's official website, they were listed as releasing on both the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch. The Switch listing was quickly removed, suggesting it to likely have been a mistake. It was suspected that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon could be the Pokémon Stars project, due to similarities to the rumors.
The rumored Pokémon Stars project never materialized, and no mainline Pokémon game came to the Switch until the first-generation remakes Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu! and Let's Go Eevee! were released in November 2018. Eurogamer writer Tom Phillips, who wrote the previous article about Pokémon Stars coming to Switch, stated about what happened with Pokémon Stars. Thanks to him along with the folks over at DidYouKnowGaming, with their video "LOST Nintendo Games," some more information/theories can be gathered that may explain Pokémon Stars fate. Sources indicated that the game's cancellation was due to Nintendo's business strategy. After the Wii U's failure, Nintendo originally planned to release 3 games belonging to their biggest IPs: The Legend of Zelda with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Mario with Super Mario Odyssey, and Pokémon with Project Pokémon Stars. It was meant to be a backup plan in case the Switch was struggling in the market, but plans have changed not only because the Switch was successful, but they were struggling to produce enough of them, so it seems like they had other 3DS games planned to be ported to the Switch such as Metroid: Samus Returns as backup plans. Nintendo has stated that the Switch and 3DS will co-exist with each other. But just like the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS, the Switch would phase out the 3DS. Eurogamer has suggested that an up-res'ed 3DS selling at full price ($60) could've damaged the Switch's reputation during its first year. This could be another factor in Pokémon Stars' cancellation.
A few fans don't believe him and there were some people who accused Eurogamer of making it up for clicks and clout, as there have been several hoaxes and fake rumors in the past from other sources. Tom Phillips was a reporter that successfully predicted other products coming before their announcements such as the report of the Switch's design and hardware specs, the SNES Classic, Diablo 3 on Switch and other games.
Another theory that was suggested by DidYouKnowGaming is that someone at Nintendo saw the game running on Switch in HD and told someone at Eurogamer. Along with Pokémon Sun and Moon on the 3DS lacking many features that were in Generation 6 such as numerous features for the bottom screen and a lack of stereoscopic 3D. But it's also possible that it was only made for testing purposes. Ohmori and Junichi Masuda had revealed that Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee and Pokémon Sword and Shield had entered production around the time Pokémon Sun and Moon's production was almost completed. Both DidYouKnowGaming and Tom have collaborated to reach about 50 developers who worked on Pokémon Sun and Moon, but they weren't allowed to say anything, most likely due to their own NDA contracts.
While there's a decent amount of information about the game's existence, it's not enough to confirm whether it really exists, and no prototypes or screenshots has been revealed about the game. No materials have been leaked, even with the Nintendo Gigaleak of 2020, meaning the game is currently lost, with its existence being inconclusive.
- ↑ Eurogamer's article on the rumored Pokémon Stars. Retrieved 01 Mar '22
- ↑ Eurogamer's follow-up article on Pokémon Stars. Retrieved 01 Mar '22