Well, the first Nintendo Direct of the year has aired, and it was short and snappy. The Pokémon Direct was confirmed to be around five minutes long when announced, and it only edged up to 'approximately 6 minutes' when it actually arrived; there was no double bluffing to be found.
With that in mind, gauging the immediate reaction was rather interesting. In some cases expectations had been a little over-stretched considering the length of broadcast, but more reasonably some felt it shouldn't have had such brevity in the first place. That's perhaps a fair point - considering the fact this was the first Direct of the year, no amount of advance warning or signposting (making it clear it was a short Pokémon-only presentation) was going to appease everyone.
Nevertheless, this writer felt that it was a pretty solid six minutes - there were two core announcements and production values that were arguably stronger than Nintendo's own. The Pokémon Company may have some frustrating habits and approaches to marketing (which we'll get to) but it sure knows how to make a flashy trailer. After all, we're talking about a company that produced the most popular Super Bowl trailer of the year.
Anyway, the announcements. The big one was Pokémon Sun and Moon being confirmed for a Holiday 2016 release on 3DS. The trouble was this had been leaked a day before the broadcast, and though some sites (like ours) had reported on it but kept logo images and the names out of the headline and lead image, plenty didn't. Therefore any Pokémon fan with a social media account knew about these ahead of time, albeit we only knew the game names at that point. The rest was basic logic, though - this Direct was never going to announce an NX game (not in a million years) so the sensible conclusion was that these titles would, rather like Pokémon Black and White 2 before them, arrive as a late addition in the current portable's generation.
That comparison to Black and White 2 on DS is perhaps apt, and is also an interesting indication of the 3DS' imminent status as a budget machine (B&W 2 had the benefit of backwards compatibility on 3DS, too). Poor sales momentum - accentuated in updated sales forecasts - shows that the New 3DS has struggled to boost the portable family; frankly, Nintendo hasn't given it much of a chance. Yet Sun and Moon can help alleviate the decline, because main series Pokémon games most definitely sell portable hardware. A formal drop in 3DS / 2DS prices (possibly including New 3DS) seems like a logical step in the Holiday season to boost sales across the board. We'll revisit that topic in more detail soon.
Back to the actual 'reveal' though, and it followed one of the less desirable marketing tricks regularly deployed by The Pokémon Company - it showed very little. Fans can pore over the concept art that was shown - vehicles and buildings, mostly - but that was it. It's an old schtick to hold back on in-game footage, but that doesn't make it ideal; even 20 seconds of the game would have been better than nothing. Frustratingly, we now go into the Twilight Zone of following broadcasts out of Japan for the first snippets, as The Pokémon Company has been - in past generations - incapable of synchronising small but popular footage across territories. We'll all probably be watching more Japanese TV clips than we're normally used to, unless this is the release that breaks the mould.
The other announcement, and arguably the more exciting as it wasn't previously leaked and can be enjoyed imminently, is that Pokémon Bank support will be included in the upcoming Virtual Console releases of Blue, Red and Yellow. Not only is it a neat touch that these Game Boy titles will allow you to save and store 'mon online, but we'll also be able to move those gen 1 Pokémon into Sun and Moon when they arrive. Notably, no mention of transferring the VC pocket monsters into X & Y and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire was made, so this is evidently limited to the upcoming releases. Considering the coding hijinks that are probably involved that's perhaps understandable.
For eager fans signed up to the subscription service (albeit a very affordable one) this helps give a little extra value to the pricey downloads, which are arriving at over double the standard Game Boy Virtual Console price; their appeal and trading / Bank features do help justify the cost somewhat.
Overall, no sooner had it begun the Pokémon Direct was over. Perhaps the reaction would have been more giddy had a trademark listing not flooded the web beforehand, and in defence of The Pokémon Company it had no way to deal with that after it had happened. The Pokémon Bank news helped save it, but all of the spiffy advertising ultimately delivered style over substance when it came to Sun and Moon - the same old strategy for a Pokémon reveal, then.
In any case, let us know what you thought of the Pokémon Direct in the comments, and you can also re-watch the whole thing below.