After all these years, the Pokemon franchise is finally moving its mainline titles off of dedicated handhelds and onto a home console... but that’s really a handheld masquerading as a home console. And while I’m sure some would be completely fine with them just doing what they’ve been doing with the 3DS titles, I’d honestly be somewhat upset if that’s all it was. They get all this extra power to play around with, but don’t do anything with it. Just seems like a waste to me if they did that. But there is one, already proven Pokemon art style, that they could use for Pokemon Switch.
Pokemon Colosseum and its sequel, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness, were the closest console players ever got to a mainline Pokemon title. They were RPG’s, just like the handheld games, but fully 3D long before the 3DS games. They came up short in the world exploration department, and you couldn’t catch Pokemon outside of snagging Shadow Pokemon or using bait in a very specific place, but they were both still great games none the less. Graphically, these games couldn’t be anymore different from their 3DS brethren. The 3DS games used a very cartoony art style that miniaturized the character models into a chibi form and cel-shaded everything. For a 3DS game, this does make sense. The hardware is limited power-wise, and when presented on such a small screen, the games as they are now make sense. Colosseum on the other hand took full advantage of the power the GameCube provided, as well as the fact that it was a on a TV.
Environments, Pokemon, and characters were all rendered with as much detail as was possible back then. Clothing had noticeable folds and separations. The best part was that the characters were more realistically scaled, so they looked a lot nicer. There were still characters with funny proportions, but that’s the beauty of the art style. It can still retain that goofiness Pokemon’s characters have always had, without going too hyper realistic.
Pokemon Colosseum & XD were followed up on the Wii with Pokemon: Battle Revolution. It dropped the RPG and narrative elements, but further evolved the art style. The Pokemon and environments were still very detailed(And more so considering this was a more powerful system, even if it was just an overclocked GameCube essentially.), but the character models were more refined. The character models in Colosseum definitely had some rough edges and Battle Revolution smoothed those out, even going so far as to give you a customizable trainer long before X & Y did it(And BR also did it to a much greater extent.). The one thing that these character models didn’t lose in the transition was their scale or proportions. They still looked like normal people and detailed, just anime-styled. And this naturally evolved into...
While Pokken Tournament may be an entirely different breed of Pokemon game, its art style is a natural progression of the console Pokemon titles that came before it. The environments and Pokemon are extremely detailed to the point where they’ve become far more lifelike, a stark contrast to the 3DS games where the Pokemon are essentially blobs of cel-shaded color. The only thing that did not make the transition from Battle Revolution to Pokken Tournament, were the character models. The full 3D models are replaced with full anime portraits, though still customizable to a heavy degree. This isn’t really a bad decision considering all the action is on the Pokemon themselves, and there is no world exploration. Battle Revolution’s trainers were really just there for show(But it was a good show.).
So following that progression, it would make sense for Pokemon Switch to adopt this style for the mainline series debut on a home console, making obvious adjustments due to the open world nature of the game. Pokken Tournaments performance may have been questionable, even on Switch, but it was a Wii U port in the end, and the Wii U version itself a port of the arcade version. There’s really no way to accurately tell how a full blown Switch RPG with these graphics would perform, all I know is that I’m salivating just thinking of its beauty. And even from a gameplay perspective, a more dynamic battle camera and a more traditional third person camera would go a long way to improving the experience.