Pokemon please let me buy your games

Nathan Ellingsworth
A yellow Nintendo Switch Lite is visible with Pokemon Emerald on the screen

It is the year of our Arceus 2024, and it is still incredibly difficult to get your hands on the incredible Game Boy games that started a phenomenon, so Pokemon, please let me buy your games.

A lot of gaming can get lost to the general man on the street. Sure, they might know Mario or Sonic, but start asking Bob down the bar what he thinks of Astarion from Baldur’s Gate 3 and you’re gonna get some mad looks.

However, I’m pretty sure at this point you could show a fish in the depths of the Mariana Trench a Pikachu, or wave a PSA-graded 10 Charizard at a Martian, and both would be able to tell you that those weird little Pocket Monsters are Pokemon.

Pokemon is one of, if not the single biggest media franchise in the world. Recently, even celebrated the launch of the games that started it all with Pokemon Day 2024. Originally Pokemon Red and Green was released in Japan on February 27, 1996, for the Game Boy.

These simple games, unassuming originally and meant as a fun kid’s game, are not the nexus point of an international phenomenon. We celebrate their launch every single year, and they have been remade twice, maybe even three times depending on how you count it. So, why can’t I buy them on Nintendo Switch?

It’s NSO-ver

A magazine advert for Pokemon red and Blue shows two children trading over link cable

Let’s get this out of the way first. If you are a Nintendo Switch owner, you may be aware of a subscription service called Nintendo Switch Online, which allows customers to pay monthly or yearly, and in return get access to a plethora of retro Nintendo games for the Game Boy, NES, SNES, Game Boy Advance, and more.

Recent additions to these services have been titles like Earthworm Jim 2, Kirby’s Star Stacker, and Battletoads. It’s a neat service and a fun addition to your Nintendo Switch library.

Anyone thinking that The Pokemon Company — a multibillion company responsible for one of the world’s biggest franchises is going to drop the original Pokemon games on a subscription service for no additional cost, is out of their minds.

If and when we ever get those original Pokemon games on Nintendo Switch, they will be sold to us, much like they were on the Nintendo eShop. Not only that, but consumers everywhere will happily pay $10 or $15 bucks to play a single one of these titles again, and that’s why they won’t come to NSO.

Two Analog Pocket consoles are visible, with out having Pokemon Yellow on the screen

Now, if I was the big boss in charge of Pokemon, the ideal scenario would be a Game Boy Pokemon Collection. Something like the Castlevania Advance Collection, or the TMNT Cowabunga Collection.

It would be fascinating to see concept art, have some of the old music available to listen to, and maybe even play around with some different modes and presentation options. Let folks choose between the different Game Boy filters, or maybe even retrofit a real Nuzlocke mode?

If we’re going to pay for Pokemon again (we are) then I beg that this be the method. A comprehensive package, maybe with some side games, and all on a cartridge as well as available to download. The Pokemon Company could split it by generation, giving folks Red, Blue, Yellow, Pinball, and Pokemon TCG first.

Then, a year or two later, pop Pokemon Gold, Silver, Crystal, Pokemon Puzzle League, and Pokemon TCG 2 on another cart. It’s a great way to preserve history, and even let people play these games for the first time. And ideally, yes, add compatibility with Pokemon Home and wireless trading or battling to all of the older games.

Between a Brock and a hard place

Two handheld consoles show Pokemon on their screens

Now, saying I want the Pokemon games on Nintendo Switch is one thing, but it’s a bit of a tepid take, to be honest. Nintendo gamer wants to play some of the most iconic Nintendo games ever made on a Nintendo console, stop the presses!

However, honestly, I think the Pokemon games should be everywhere. You should be able to play Pokemon Red and Blue on a Nokia 3310, on a Tesla dashboard, on a Smart Fridge, or hell even in Minecraft thanks to a complicated combination of Redstone and whatever else people build with.

And I hear you, “but Pokemon are extremely careful with their brand, and take tight control of where Pokemon is represented.” Yeah, alright nerd, I get it. That would be a great argument if Pokemon wasn;t already absolutely everywhere. For free.

If you are a retro gamer with any sort of technological acumen, you can get Pokemon Red and Blue running on just about anything. From Android phones, and smartwatches, to handheld emulation devices like the Miyoo Mini or the Anbernic RG35XX, something with the power of a toaster can run Pokemon.

In fact, the popularity of the Pokemon games is one of the selling points for many handheld emulation devices, with a ridiculous amount of online advertisements for Anbernic products or the Retroid Pocket consoles slapping Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green on the screen for that easy bit of advertising juice.

Personally, once again, if I was in charge of Pokemon I would remember an age-old adage. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Sure, Pokemon aren’t about to start licensing out the Pokemon Red and Blue ROMS to companies that illegally harvest old ROMs and sell them for a quick buck. So why aren’t they releasing them on Nintendo Switch, with features that make that the ultimate place to play them?

A YouTube creator holds a Pokemon Mini console

Even better, why aren’t Nintendo and Pokemon releasing a Pokemon Mini 2.0, a handheld device that looks like a Game Boy Colour but with the dimensions of a Miyoo Mini Plus, and it has official versions of some of the best Nintendo gamers right out of the gate.

Nintendo and Pokemon could sell a Pokemon Mini 2.0 in their stores and they would fly off the shelves. The NES Mini sold out, and so did the SNES Mini, and Nintendo even released both a Mario and a The Legend of Zelda Game and Watch to store shelves.

The Pokemon Company is sitting on quite possibly the most lucrative IP in gaming, and ROMs are so popular that they’re selling thousands of devices for off-brand Chinese tech companies, and that is all money The Pokemon Company could be making instead.

Pokemon wants us to play Pokemon

Pokemon Crystal as it appears on the Nintendo Switch port available on eShop.

I’m not naive. When thinking about this issue, there seems to be one definitive answer as to why you cannot log onto the Nintendo eShop and spend $10 on a copy of Pokemon Crystal to get cozy with on a Sunday afternoon.

If you log into the Nintendo eShop and type in Pokemon, instead, you are faced with Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, which are being sold for $49.99. If you enjoy them, you can even get the DLC, available for another $29.99.

Fancy playing Pokemon Diamond and Pearl? Great news, the remakes known as Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Pokemon Shining Pearl are right here, for $49.99.

Even better news, fans are buying these new games in astronomical numbers! Pokemon Scarlet & Violet have sold over 20m units, making a huge amount of money for The Pokemon Company, as well as helping to launch a new season of Pokemon TCG cards, and the chance to pump even more Pokemon into mobile mega-hit Pokemon Go – all for a price.

A pair of hands hold the Legend of Zelda Game and Watch

I don’t expect The Pokemon Company to offer the Pokemon titles on Nintendo Switch until it is done selling games on Nintendo Switch. With the recent announcement of Pokemon Legends Z-A, launching in 2025, that day isn’t looking like it’s coming anytime soon.

Instead, I would expect the original Pokemon games to maybe hit Nintendo Switch in 2026, probably in time for the series’ 30th anniversary. But this move, no matter how fiscally sensible on paper, is almost certainly leaving money on the table.

Directing people towards the new Pokemon games, instead of offering the old ones, probably does get fans on board with the new Pokemon, and buying the new merch. But it also leaves so much money on the table as millions of other gamers would simply like to play the classic games.

Plus, they’re already doing so, and The Pokemon Company isn’t making a penny off of it. Anyone not interested in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, but wanting to replay Pokemon Emerald, is going to fire up an emulator or a device like the Miyoo Mini. So, Pokemon, please let me buy your games.

Whether you sell me them piecemeal on Nintendo Switch, you sell a Mega Man X-style collection with all the bells and whistles, or hell if you release your own Pokemon Mini 2.0 console, I promise you it will help strengthen the brand.

More eyes on the original Pokemon games is a good thing, and the mainline Pokemon games will always continue to sell. I want to play Pokemon Red and Blue, or even Gold and Silver, without dragging out my old 3DS or having to rely on a dodgy cartridge from the 90s with a dead battery.

Not just that, even if you do want to buy Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, or even Gold, Silver, and Crystal: the Nintendo 3DS eShop is no longer live, so the single legal way to purchase these games is now gone.

I get why the Pokemon games aren’t on NSO. I understand The Pokemon Company wants people to buy Pokemon Scarlet & Violet first. I understand all of it.

But I cannot ever understand what would be the harm to millions of other people buying, and playing, Pokemon games on Nintendo Switch, their mobile phones, or anywhere else that can support it. Especially for a year like 2024, which seems to be the first year Pokemon won’t have a major Pokemon title on store shelves for decades.

There’s magic to those original games, and that magic can help get even more young gamers playing while also getting excited for the next mainline Nintendo Switch game. Releasing Pokemon Crystal won’t hurt Pokemon, in fact, I think it just might make the company a ridiculous amount of money.

About The Author

Nathan is a Senior Writer at Dexerto, leading our Pokemon coverage. They got their start with print magazines ranging from Switch Player to lock-on, before writing Nintendo & Pokemon-focused pieces for The Gamer, Nintendo Life, Pocket Tactics, and more. They're obsessed with Shiny-hunting, Pokemon TCG, rhythm games, and RPGs.