Friday, June 2, 2023

What I want from the Pokémon 25th anniversary celebration

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In September, Nintendo released a presentation of Super Mario Direct announcing (among others) Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser Fury, and Mario Kart Live: Home circuit for Switch. Soon after I started to think about what I’d like to see from a Legend of Zelda 35th anniversary celebration (if Nintendo chooses to hold one when the anniversary arrives on February 21). We already know that another of Nintendo’s biggest exclusive franchises, Pokémon, is having a birthday celebration which, at this point, includes a special logo, Katy Perry, and Post Malone. But that’s probably not all that’s going to feature, as The Pokémon Company has announced more announcements for February 27.

With just over two weeks before the big day, I wanted to put together a wishlist of announcements that I hope to see when The Pokémon Company, Game Freak, Nintendo and all of their partners pull the curtain back on what they’re planning and work on. Find out what I’d love to see from Pokémon’s 25th anniversary celebration and ring the bell with your own wishlists in the comments section. In the meantime, be sure to check out my wishlist for a hypothetical Zelda 35th anniversary celebration. Here.

Tell us more about the new Pokémon Snap

It’s pretty much a home run for February 27 at this point, which is why I’m top of the list with him. Details were quite scarce for the expected new Pokémon Snap, which was announced last June. We now know it’s coming to Switch in April, but I expect The Pokémon Company to give us all of the big, in-depth details that fans of the original game have been looking for for over two decades.

Pokémon: Let's go, Pikachu

New Let’s Go games announced

Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee were seen by many as developer Game Freak testing the waters and learning what he could accomplish with the power of the Switch before he made a full main RPG for the hybrid console, but it was much more than that. Come on, Pikachu and Eevee served as the perfect jumping off points for new and outdated fans, while also bringing the Kanto region to life in a way players have never seen before. Remakes like these are great for checking out all the nostalgic brands of longtime fans, while also making older games more accessible and available; Quality of life improvements abound in Let’s Go, Pikachu, and Eevee. If I had to choose which generation I would like to see remade in this style, I would choose Gen 2; Not only does it make a chronological sense, but the Johto games are some of my favorites in the series. It would also likely be easier for the studio to create the post-game parts of the adventure given the existing assets of Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee. If it’s not Gen 2, then I say let’s go to Sinnoh! Diamond and Pearl are good games, but they could certainly use some of the quality-of-life improvements that the Let’s Go games deserved to be noted for.

Bring classic games to Switch

Thanks to Nintendo Switch Online and several ports of the past, the Switch has become an exceptional platform for retro versions. However, the main Pokémon games cannot be found. Past Pokémon Day celebrations have brought classic games like Red, blue and yellow on a then modern platform, but why stop there? Why not give us some of the updated games like FireRed & LeafGreen or HeartGold & SoulSilver? As someone who has played FireRed & LeafGreen on the big screen thanks to my RetroN 5 console, I can confirm that it still looks pretty good when magnified larger than a Game Boy Advance screen. Not everyone has the opportunity to play these games in their original form, and while they wanted to acquire the means to do so, retro hardware and retro Pokemon titles have skyrocketed. It would make a lot of sense for The Pokémon Company to make them officially available on Nintendo’s modern and hugely popular system.

Pokémon Sword & Shield: Crown Tundra

Continue our adventure in Galar with more extensions

In 2020, we saw the Pokémon series break free from the “follow-up play” approach to update the experience. We would no longer need to buy a third game and start from scratch to get the definitive experience; instead, we could just buy the Expansion Pass for Sword & Shield to continue the adventure on the same save file. As it looks like our next mainline entry is still far from over, it’s likely we could see a second Expansion Pass with two new adventures to add to the game. It also makes sense that Game Freak would want to complete the Pokémon roster to finally complete the National Pokédex after the fanbase outcry leading up to the launch. Of course, if my new Let’s Go games wish comes true, that could replace that as a possibility.

Give us meaningful in-game events

The Pokémon Company has previously announced that there will be in-game events for Sword & Shield to celebrate the anniversary, while February 21 kicks off Pokémon Go: Kanto Tour (photo above) in the famous mobile augmented reality title. But I don’t want to celebrate Pokémon’s 25th anniversary with just a plethora of Pikachu in Sword & Shield or an in-game Pokémon Go event where I have to pay $ 12 to participate. Give us fun activities that bring back the spirit of those early games. Have Team Rocket invade Sword & Shield or bring the original Gym Leaders back to the post-match arena. And you can keep your Pikachu with a party hat in Pokémon Go. Give us something to excite that looks like a real party, not a “maybe I’ll check if I find the time” cosmetic. I want these events to feel like must-see destinations.

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Offer new fresh products

As with any major milestone in the Pokémon franchise, I would expect Pokémon Center to add a new line of merchandise to its already robust offerings. The online store already sells a Greatest Hits Line (photo above), while The collaboration of the Pokémon company with the skateboard company Bear Walker sold out pretty much immediately, but I’d be surprised if we didn’t get 25th anniversary specific items added to put options.

The Game Freak lobby photographed by me on our 2019 cover trip for Pokémon Sword & Shield

Just give us a glimpse of Generation 9

It’s probably far too early to get any substantive information on the next main games, but we’re usually three or four years between generations, so it stands to reason that we’ll have the next RPG in the Pokémon series in 2022 or 2023. If so this is the case (especially if it’s 2022), the big announcement we might get at the end of Post Malone’s concert (which The Pokémon Company says fans will want to stay for) could be a tease for Gen 9. Again, I wouldn’t anticipate any substantial information, but some sort of cinematic teaser or a quick glimpse of the region would be enough to whet the appetites of voracious fans of the series.

What do you hope to see from Pokémon’s 25th anniversary later this month?


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