While the date February 27, 1996, might not seem like much on its own, it would be a day that would change the gaming landscape forever. On that unsuspecting Tuesday almost twenty five years ago, a little game released on the Gameboy would go on to become one of the bestselling videogame franchises of all time.
Pokémon, or Pocket Monsters as it's called in Japan, was an immediate success, and it wasn't long before Pikachu and the other 149 monsters became household names all over the world. Today, with over 700 Pokémon and countless spin-off games, movies, TV shows, and a trading card game, Pokémon remains one of Nintendo's most popular IPs, and the recent installments, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, are some of the best games available on Nintendo Switch, as well as some of the best RPGs on the system.
As Nintendo gears up to celebrate Pokémon's 25th anniversary, we can't help but wonder how it will be celebrated. Will we get new games? A remake? Or something different entirely? Nintendo is currently going all out to celebrate Mario's 35th anniversary, so we can only assume that their blockbuster monster-collecting franchise will receive the same treatment. We'll take a look at what has already been announced to celebrate the occasion, and what we think is on the horizon.
Pokémon 25th Anniversary: Plenty to celebrate
You'd be lying if you said you didn't have a memory of Pokémon. Whether it's karaoke singing the anime's catchy theme songs or crushing the Elite Four for the first time, Pokémon has been a major presence in the lives of many who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s, especially if you were a gamer. To kick off the 25th anniversary festivities, the Pokémon Company International launched a campaign that will feature music from a series of musical guests that include rising artists and award-winning global superstars. The first of those artists is none other than American Sweetheart, Katy Perry, and most recently, Post Malone.
While the Pokémon 25th anniversary website alludes to more Pokémon gear, we actually don't know everything that's in store, but they did confirm some goodies for the anniversary. We know that we'll see a 25th anniversary line of Pokémon Cards, titled the First Partner Pack, to commemorate the event, and a special edition binder. There's also a huge promotion happening at McDonalds, which we investigated firsthand. We can also expect hordes of new plushies, t-shirts, figurines, and more, including a limited edition skateboard.
In addition to the limited edition gear, players can expect lots of events and Pokémon distributions for Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield this time around.
Pokémon 25th Anniversary: The series is still evolving
But what's in the pipeline on the videogame side of things? During Pokémon's 20th anniversary celebration, both Pokkén and Pokémon Go were released, and there were many crossover events in games like Super Mario Maker and Splatoon to mark the occasion. So far, we've received a new trailer for New Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo Switch, the sequel to the N64's Pokémon Snap.
What other announcements can we expect? Nintendo has been pretty quiet about its upcoming free to play MOBA Pokémon UNITE since they announced it during a Pokémon Presents presentation back in June 2020. While the announcement may have generated more negative backlash than they may have expected, the beta test have driven fans wild, and have even led to some pretty interesting leaks. This one is shaping up to be an interesting release.
We also haven't heard much about Detective Pikachu and its sequel either. While the game was released late in the Nintendo 3DS's life span, it spawned a live-action movie adaptation, and a sequel was announced for the Nintendo Switch that promised a conclusion to the original game's cliffhanger ending. The 25th anniversary seems like a perfect opportunity to check in on the gumshoe Pokémon.
There are also plenty of crossover opportunities in Nintendo's other properties, like Splatoon 2, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Nintendo celebrated Mario's anniversary with similar crossovers in addition to the announcement of Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury. Considering the 3DS saw the original Pokémon games re-released during Pokémon's 20th anniversary, maybe we'll see older Pokémon titles show up on the Switch. Hey You, Pikachu, anyone?
Pokémon 25th Anniversary: A return to the Sinnoh region
Speaking of revisiting classics, The Pokémon Company finally announced the long-rumored remake of Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, now named Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. The remakes are faithful to the original games, recreating Sinnoh almost exactly as it appeared on the DS, while also wrapping everything in this chibi art style that evokes memories of the sprites found in the original games. It's also being developed by Ilca, with supervision from Junichi Masuda from Game Freak, the director of the original game. What else is new in the game? Well, eagle-eyed fans have already noticed some changes pulled in from Pokémon Platinum, so there might be more changes waiting for Pokémon fans when they return to Sinnoh this fall.
But The Pokemon Company had one big surprise for fans, and it would be taking place in Sinnoh as well, just not the Sinnoh you know. Named Pokémon Legends: Arceus, this new game is hoping to break away from the traditional Pokémon formula in a big way. Immediately, players familiar with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will notice the similarities. The grass softly blowing in the wind, the piano cords, even the clothing on the character. Pokémon Legends: Arceus is the first open-world Pokémon game where players will be able to explore ancient Sinnoh, helping to create Sinnoh's first Pokédex. While details remain scarce, what we've seen of Pokémon Legends: Arceus has already set the internet ablaze. We'll have to wait until early 2022 to get our hands on it, though.
Pokémon 25th Anniversary: 25 years and counting
Pokémon has been a large presence in my life as I'm sure it's been for many videogame fans. Whether your introduction to the series was by trading cards at school or catching them with your phone, the series seems poised to deliver more family-friendly experiences that capture the attention of both new and old fans alike.
As we march through 2021 and wait for Nintendo to confirm more Pokémon goodness, it's nice to think about the many directions the Pokémon series can go. From fighting games to adventure titles, Pokémon seems to have done it all, but what would you like to see to celebrate Pokémon's 25th anniversary? Let us know in the comments.
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Zackery Cuevas is a writer for Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore. He likes playing video games, talking about video games, writing about video games, and most importantly, complaining about video games. If you're cool, you can follow me on Twitter @Zackzackzackery.