7. POKÉMON BLACK AND WHITE 2
"Nintendo won't do the easy," said Mother creator Shigesato Itoi in a 2007 interview with Satoru Iwata for the former's popular Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun website. The pair had been chatting about Wii Sports and whether Nintendo had plans for a follow-up. Iwata suggested that Nintendo wouldn't produce a traditional sequel because "if you start making such decisions without thinking, you disengage yourself with the pursuit of true entertainment."
The official party line, then, is that Nintendo doesn't 'do' direct sequels. It's true as a general rule, but it's an ideal that doesn't always hold up under scrutiny. Brain Training is a case in point, and you could even make an argument for Super Mario Galaxy - even if the sequel's generosity and range of ideas make it feel like anything but a straight follow-up. Either way, it's clear Iwata's singing from a different hymn sheet these days, the announcement of Pokémon Black And White 2 convincing evidence.
So what's changed? Nintendo's profits, obviously. You don't go back on your principles without a very good reason, and the hefty recent losses suffered are exactly that. No one expected 3DS to struggle as much as it did, and Wii's long tail has proven to be rather shorter than initially thought. If Iwata doesn't want to risk angering his bank manager further, another edition of a guaranteed unit-shifter is a neat solution.
There's more to it than that, of course. Making a brand new 3DS Pokémon will be a time-consuming process, even if it was just a case of 3D-ising the critters. Given such an extensive menagerie - there's over 650 of the beggars now - this isn't something that could be knocked up over a few lunch breaks. Two new DS games represent a convenient way to make the wait feel shorter, keeping impatient fans happy while encouraging others to upgrade to 3DS for exclusive extras.
That we're getting an extra game this generation suggests we're in for something more substantial, while the ending of the last game - in which Poké-rights activist N flew off to pastures new - hints at a location change.
As development costs rise, it makes financial sense to use big franchises to prop up more experimental fare. Just as Miramax uses blockbusters to fund indie movies, this would allow Nintendo to take creative risks while raking in the big bucks. A win-win situation.