Nintendo recap: Ash and Pikachu's story is coming to an end after 25 years

Ash and Pikachu hugging
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

Hello and welcome to this week's Nintendo recap! There were plenty of interesting things in the world of Nintendo this week. 

For starters, The Pokémon Company revealed that Ash and Pikachu's story is coming to an end with new protagonists taking center stage in the new animated series — a somber reveal for many. Nintendo also officially revealed the look and release dates for a few more Super Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo. 

In other news, the upcoming Switch version of Hogwarts Legacy finally got a release date, Mario Strikers received its final update with new playable characters, and Mario Kart 7 on 3DS unexpectedly received a patch that might do more than Nintendo officially revealed. There's, even more to discuss so let's get started. 

New Pokémon show will feature Scarlet and Violet starters

On Friday, The Pokémon Company announced that the upcoming Pokémon Animated Series will be "coming in 2023 and beyond." We've been expecting the announcement of a new show ever since Pokémon Scarlet and Violet released since the usual trend is for a new show to come out shortly after the launch of a new game. However, it looks like this new series is going to change things up quite a bit by not having Ash and Pikachu as the main characters.

In a trailer, we learned that the current show, Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series, is "the final chapter of Ash and Pikachu's story," with the final episode launching in early 2023. The new show will focus on two brand-new characters (a boy and a girl) along with the Gen 9 starters: Sprigatito, Fuecoco, and Quaxly

This is an emotional revelation for many long-time Pokémon fans as Ash has been a staple of the series for 25 years. But it seems that after finally becoming a Pokémon world champion that his journey to be the very best like no one ever was has concluded. 

Sarah Natochenny who has been the voice actor of Ash Ketchum for the last 17 years released an emotional video talking about her time as the iconic trainer. She ends by saying, "Thank you all for being on this incredible journey. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life and I hope to meet you all in person someday."

It's truly the end of an era. While sad for many, this change in dynamic opens up the Pokémon series to potentially explore new characters and new focuses like never before. There currently is no exact release date for the new show's first episode. However, The Pokémon Company has stated that "more details regarding the new Pokémon animated series will be revealed in the future." It wouldn't be surprising to see another trailer for the show sometime in February when the first Pokémon Presents showcase typically kicks the year off. 

Upcoming Super Smash Bros. amiibo get 2023 release dates

(Image credit: iMore)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate received its very last DLC fighter over a year ago when Sora from Kingdom Hearts was revealed as the newest addition to the roster on October 5, 2021. Nintendo is still making good on its plan to release an amiibo figure for every fighter in the game, but amiibo for five characters still haven't released. 

Thankfully for amiibo collectors, this week Nintendo announced the release dates for some of these upcoming amiibo and showed off official high-resolution images of what they will look like. 

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Collectors won't have to wait long since both of the amiibo for Kazuya (Tekken) and Sephiroth (Final Fantasy) will come to store shelves on January 13, 2023 and they're both currently available for preorder. There's no indication on when exactly the Pyra and Mythra (Xenoblade Chronicles 2) figures will hit retailers or when preorders for them will go up, but it will likely be within a few months into the new year.

From the images, it looks like these are all very good-looking amiibo with plenty of attention to detail. The clothing folds and facial characteristics of each figure look really nice and Sephiroth's wing, in particular, looks awesome. I'm excited to add each of these to my collection. 

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Sephiroth amiibo - Super Smash Bros. Series

Sephiroth first plagued the world of video games when he was introduced in Final Fantasy VII as one of the most powerful and sinister villains out there. Thankfully, players can now work on collecting this iconic antagonist's amiibo.

Preorder from: GameStop (opens in new tab) | Best Buy (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab)

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Kazuya amiibo - Super Smash Bros. Series

Kazuya has had an interesting history as he was first introduced as the main character for the Tekken fighting game, but has since gone on to become a villain and antihero. In his classic fighting stance, this amiibo really captures his powerful presence.

Preorder from: GameStop (opens in new tab) | Best Buy (opens in new tab) | Amazon (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: iMore)

Of course, with the release of these Super Smash Bros. Ultimate figures we only have the Sora amiibo (Kingdom Hearts) to wait for after that. These NFC figurines usually have the same stance as the official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate artwork. As such, the upcoming Sora amiibo will likely depict Sora standing in his iconic pose from the first Kingdom Hearts game with the Keyblade dipping down over his shoulder. It's hard to know for sure, but it's likely that this final Smash amiibo will get released by the end of 2023. 

Super Nintendo World opening date revealed

On Wednesday, Universal Studios Hollywood and Nintendo of America announced that the brand-new Super Nintendo World will be opening Feb 17, 2023 in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, California. 

Lots of changes have been coming to Universal Studios Hollywood over the last several months, which will soon allow visitors to experience the Mario Kart ride, dine at Toadstool Cafe, purchase items at the 1-UP Factory, or even meet characters from the Mushroom Kingdom. 

What's more, patrons can purchase Power-Up Bands, which are like Mario-themed bracelets with NFC chips inside. Putting this accessory near certain things in the park makes interactive objects respond and earn virtual rewards. For instance, you could punch a ? Block and collect virtual coins. You can then view any virtual goods you've collected via special checkpoints within the area. 

It's looking like this will be a fun new destination for many people and I personally cannot wait to grab a few of those awesome shirts, cups, and other collectibles at the merch stores. 

Sonic Frontiers sales

Sonic Frontiers: Sonic approaching trapped Amy.

(Image credit: Sega)

Sonic Frontiers has been out for over a month now and has been received well by fans. This is reflected in the fact that the game has already sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide since launch as reported by the official Sega account on Twitter.   

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While nothing truly groundbreaking, Sonic Frontiers is considered by many fans to be the best Sonic game that's come out in a very long time. With the game's new "open-zone" direction that feels like open-world spaces divided into a handful or really large islands, there is plenty to explore and new mechanics to interact with. It's no wonder the game has been selling so well.

Mario Strikers Battle League update

Mario Strikers Battle League released in 2021 and has received free updates periodically over the last few months. But as of this week, the silly soccer game has received its very last free update, which included the addition of Birdo and Bowser. Jr. This brings the total number of playable characters to 18. 

It's unclear if any paid content is on the horizon or if this is the last of the major updates for Mario Strikers. Considering that the game wasn't received very well due to its clunky online offerings and limited modes, it wouldn't be surprising if this is the end. 

Hogwarts Legacy on Switch gets release date

Hogwarts Legacy school

(Image credit: WB Games)

A few months back, we learned that the Xbox, PlayStation, and PC versions of the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy game would be coming out before the Nintendo Switch version. However, it wasn't until this week that the exact release dates for all platforms were revealed. 

  • PC — Feb 12, 2023
  • PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S  — April 4, 2023
  • Nintendo Switch — July 25, 2023

It's kind of odd to see a new game launch on different platforms in such a staggered schedule. Switch owners wanting to play will have to wait the longest as the Nintendo release is five and a half months after the PC version, which launches first. This later Switch launch possibly has to do with the fact that the game will run locally on Switch rather than being a Cloud streamed game, so it might be taking the developers or those working on the port a longer time to make the game playable on the Nintendo hybrid's lower processing and graphical capabilities. 

As of yet, no screenshots or videos of the Switch version of Hogwarts Legacy have been shared. It will be interesting to see just how different the Switch version looks compared to other platforms. More than likely, these images won't be shown until closer to the Switch version's launch. 

Mario Kart 7 on 3DS receives update that potentially fixes security bugs

Mario Kart 7

(Image credit: Nintendo)

With the 3DS eShop closing in March 2023 and many games on the older handheld no longer receiving support, it was a little confusing when Mario Kart 7 on 3DS received a Version 1.2 update this last Tuesday. To give some context, the last time the game received an update before that was 10 years ago in 2012, so that's a huge jump between version adjustments. 

According to Nintendo's official update history (opens in new tab) for the game, "Several issues have been addressed to improve the gameplay experience." But this is all rather vague and doesn't really explain why the game was patched. It could just be that this update was in preparation for the 3DS eShop getting shut down soon, but there also might be more to it. 

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Renowned dataminer, @OatmealDome on Twitter, was able to offer an intelligent conjecture on the situation that could make sense. "This patch might fix a severe security exploit," OatmealDome's post reads. The post goes on to reference the fact that other older Nintendo games such as Splatoon 2, Animal Crossing, and others received updates a while back as well.  

OatmealDome went on to say, "there is even a possibility that this patch fixes the same security bugs as the other games, since Mario Kart 7 is a first-party Nintendo game and could use a lot of the same common netcode that was found to be vulnerable." Nintendo is fiercely protective of its property, so it's easy to see the company taking time to improve security measures on its games even if they are older ones. 

Best Switch games to play this weekend

Several new games came out this week, but these are the best Switch games that we really recommend checking out. 

Crisis Core –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION | $50 (opens in new tab)

Crisis Core –FINAL FANTASY VII– REUNION | $50 (opens in new tab)

This is the prequel to FFVII which was recently remastered for current platforms from its original PSP version. You take on the role of Zack Fair as he works to save the world. It also provides players with insight as to how Zack is connected to Cloud and Sephiroth. If you're planning on playing FFVII part two, you should really consider checking this out. 

Buy from: Amazon (opens in new tab) | Walmart (opens in new tab) | Best Buy (opens in new tab)

Lil Gator Game | $20 at Nintendo (opens in new tab)

Lil Gator Game | $20 at Nintendo (opens in new tab)

You play as a young alligator who's out to enjoy make-believe adventures. Platform around, make friends with animals your age, and explore the surrounding parts of the island. It's a cute tale with cuter characters.

River City Girls 2 | $40 at Nintendo (opens in new tab)

River City Girls 2 | $40 at Nintendo (opens in new tab)

This sequel lets you take to the streets once more as you beat up baddies on your own or with friends. It can host up to four players on one system and features a fun art style with energetic animations to keep everyone entertained. 

Almost at the end of the year

That's all the Nintendo news for this week. It's crazy to think that we only have a couple weeks left in 2022. Nintendo has had an amazing year when it comes to game releases as some of the very best titles for the hybrid gaming system came out within the last 12 months. There's bound to be some interesting developments within the next few weeks and I'll report on them as they come. 

Until next time. 

- Rebecca Spear

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.