This month, Pokemon Sword and Shield will release its second major DLC expansion. Game Freak shared information in a Crown Tundra presentation last week, revealing that the expansion will offer players new ventures like co-op Dynamax Adventures and double battles against major characters in Star Tournaments. The Galar Region games broke ground for the Pokemon franchise by offering paid DLC for the first time, and fans are curious what’s next following The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra.
While not substantiated by any official word from Nintendo or The Pokemon Company, some fans are under the impression that a third set of DLC is in development behind the scenes based on unused portions of the Galar Region map. One popular theory is that new Sword and Shield DLC will add the Kalos Region from Pokemon X and Y. While this seems unlikely given the first Expansion Pass’ focus on adding smaller islands that serve as explorable Wild Areas, there is something to be said about the precedent for multiple Regions in one game set by Gold and Silver.
The idea of fans wanting to return to the settings of older titles is not new. Many are still clamoring for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl remakes, as those are next in-line based on the pattern continued by Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in 2014. Rumors have also abound on sites like 4chan that a “Pokemon Super Collection” is coming to Switch for the series’ 25th anniversary next year. However, one more ambitious idea has underpinned these kinds of desires and theories for decades: A Pokemon game in which every Region can be explored.
Ever since Gold and Silver opened the Pandora’s Box of having an interconnected Pokemon world that experiences the passage of time, characters and ideas from just about every title have appeared in following entries. Sometimes these connections are like fan service, such as the Pokemon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2 that let players duke it out with Gym Leaders and Champions from every Region. However, other times they have much more important roles in plot beats or world building.
The 3DS era of Pokemon games had a lot of these connections. In terms of plot advancement, both Elite Four member Grimsley and former Team Plasma boss Colress from Generation 5 appear in Generation 7’s Pokemon Sun and Moon, as well as their sequels. Grimsley offers up access to a rideable Sharpedo that can break through boulders, while Colress provides players the means of utilizing Necrozma’s transformations in the Ultra games.
World building can intermingle with plot elements, as seen through Grimsley’s friendship with Kahuna Nanu. In Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, a multiverse theory was introduced to explain why its version of Hoenn has access to Mega Evolution and features divergent areas from the original games. One such area is Mauville City, which was redesigned with inspirations from Kalos’ Lumiose City — complete with a replica Prism Tower, itself based on the Eiffel Tower. This multiverse is also utilized for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon‘s villainous reunion in the post-game Episode RR.
The poster child for Pokemon having an interconnected world is Sinnoh Champion Cynthia, a fan-favorite character who has appeared in more individual games than about anyone else in the franchise. After debuting in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, she has also appeared in Johto, Unova, and Alola. She also appears on Pasio from DeNA’s mobile game Pokemon Masters EX, a gacha game which could be considered a bridge to every other title because of it directly pulls from its characters’ histories.
One major element to the theory that Kalos may appear in DLC for Sword and Shield is the fact that each game’s real-world inspirations, France and the United Kingdom respectively, are neighbors on Earth. Kalos is also home to a place called Couriway Town that is defined by its railway station said to bring visitors from great distances. While it was underutilized in the original 3DS games, many have pointed to Galar’s use of train systems as an easy point of connectivity.
Even without this direct railway connection, the Pokemon series has included means of travel that theoretically could connect every Region should players be given the freedom to travel between them. Trial Captain Mina appears in Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! on Switch having travelled from Alola to Kanto. The opening scene in Ruby and Sapphire, as well as their remakes, is the player character moving from Johto to Hoenn so they can live with their father, Norman.
That’s not to mention the relatively unused means of travel in Pokemon Black and White‘s Unova Region. Castelia City features a massive port, and the Skyarrow Bridge that connects to Pinwheel Forest has active vehicle traffic with cars and trucks. Nimbasa City has a subway system that presumably gets more use than hosting the Battle Subway facility. Mistralton City’s Gym Leader Skyla is also the pilot at an airport said to import and export cargo from afar, a step above the city-to-city travel of Sword and Shield‘s Flying Taxi system.
Making use of these travel means could create a system reminiscent of the Pokemon anime, in which Ash Ketchum has spent decades traveling between Regions so he can collect every Gym Badge and compete in Pokemon League challenges. The aforementioned mobile game Pokemon Masters shows how much promise there is to the idea of letting the franchise’s huge cast of characters interact more organically. While adding Kalos to Sword and Shield would be a great step in the right direction, it’s still a far cry from Game Freak creating the kind of massive, interconnected experience that some fans have undoubtedly wanted to see since the very beginning.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are available now on Nintendo Switch.
MORE: Pokemon Sword and Shield Adding a New Region in DLC Would Be a Good Thing