Archive for June 25th, 2008

Pokémon Game Nomenclature

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

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It was recently announced that the next “true” Pokémon game would be called “Pokémon Platinum”. I use the term “true” because I think that some other games might come before the release of Pokémon Platinum, that aren’t a part of the main series, like the Pokémon dungeon franchise or something like another racing or pinball game.

I can’t help but think that naming the new game “Pokémon Platinum” was a bad choice by Nintendo/Game Freak, because Opal or Girasol would fit the game so much better, for so much obvious reasons. Not only that but it’s also creating problems down the road, specifically where the Pokémon Game Nomenclature goes. So, where will Nintendo/Game freak go from here? There are not much more materials that strike the same powerful impact of Platinum.

One thing to consider is that the name of a game must be understood in America and Japan. Now this part in crucial, All the Pokémon games since Pokémon Crystal, have had the version name written in Katakana, Japanese foreign characters, so they sound the same, or close enough to same, as the English equivalent, not only that, the version name is understood by a large amount of Japanese readers. For future titles, especially with the introduction of Nintendo’s worldwide Wi-Fi system, the names must be both the same in America and Japan and understood by both peoples.

With the exception of the Classic remakes, Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen, The third and fourth generation Pokémon games have been named after birthstones. So far the birthstones that have been used for identification Pokémon games are diamond, emerald, pearl, ruby, and sapphire. The birthstones that remain unused are, garnet, amethyst, bloodstone/aquamarine, topaz, sardonyx, turquoise/zircon, and opal (what Platinum should have been called). The words Amethyst (ameshisuto) aquamarine (akuamarin) garnet (ga−netto) sardonyx (sa−donikkusu) turquoise : toruko zirconium (jirukoniumu) opal (opa−ru) are words that are mostly understood, if not the only word used to identify the stone. As far as I know the birthstone Topaz doesn’t have a popular Katakana English equivalent, so I don’t think Topaz will ever be used for a Pokémon game.


Since platinum isn’t a birthstone, the future names of Pokémon games might take another path. So what are the possibilities for future names? First, they of coarse could go back to birthstones. Second, they, they could continue in the path that Platinum is going, by naming games after different periodic elements, Such as uranium (only known as uranium in Japan), or plutonium (only known as purutoniumu). But, those are things that don’t seem really Pokémonesque. I think if they continue in a path by taking the game’s name from periodic elements, they would name the game after metals or metalloids, such as Iron (airon or aian), or Nickel (nikkeru), Bronze (buronzu). Steel (suchi−ru) could also pass as a name for a Pokémon game. Nintendo/Game Freak could go into trade goods such as silk (shiruku), cotton (kotton) for naming the games. Or they can go into what I call “living stones”, with things like ivory (aibori−) or coral (ko−raru).
They could also go into ancient elements such as earth(a−su), wind (uindo), fire (faia), air(ea−), and aether, however aether doesn’t have a real bases in japanese ancient elements. Expanding that line of thought, games could be named after some of the element’s corresponding to Pokémon types such as electricity (erekiteru) or spirit (supiritto). They could go to other things like mist (misuto) or ice (aisu).

Nintendo/Game Freak could also go back to the first generations system of naming games after colors. Black and white could definitely be released as a Red/Blue/Green, Gold/Silver, Ruby/Sapphire, or Diamond/Pearl type of set. Some other colors that have yet to be used are indigo (injigo), and Violet (baioretto).

They could also go into a drastically different path, by not naming the game after elements/materials relating to the game’s respective mascot. They could release a set of games taking place in different regions, and name the game after the particular region in which the game takes place. Or the different games could start of in different towns in the same region, and the game could take the player’s hometown’s name.

I’m pretty sure that sulfur, brown, topaz, coal, brimstone, smoke, and charcoal don’t have popular katakana equivalents. Copper doesn’t have a popular Katakana word. An orange is called an “orenji” but I don’t know if that goes along with the color itself. So I wouldn’t put much confidence in someone who says that those could be used for a Pokémon game.

Only time will tell what the “true” Pokémon games will be called for Nintendo’s next portable system or for the Nintendo DS late in it lifespan. My guess, based on the naming of Pokémon Platinum, is that they will do a few more Minerals/Stones without much thought put into correlating the name of the game to its respective mascot. Until they hammer out one theme for naming the Pokémon games.