We could barely believe it when we saw it, but it’s actually been 20 long years since Pokémon arrived on our Game Boys back in 1996. Of course, it would be another two years until the game would arrive on American shores and Europe would have to wait until 1999. We’re going by the original release date here, though, which was February 27, 1996 in Japan. As you might imagine, after 20 years, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have some big plans in store for fans this year.
One treat arriving in time for the game’s big birthday will be a special edition New 3DS bundle with unique Pokémon cover plates depicting the original art of the Red and Blue editions. The system will also come pre-loaded with the two original games, which of course went on to spawn a massive franchise encompassing games, toys, shows, movies, a collectible card game and much more.
The game will even have its own Super Bowl advertisement, which we hope will reveal some information on the highly anticipated upcoming games in the series. Among them is the Pokemon fighting game, Pokkén Tournament, that’s best described as a cross between Pokemon and Tekken. The game will also mark the debut of a new monster, Shadow Mewtwo, alongside fighters such as Garcomp and Sceptile. The Wii U port of the Japanese arcade game is set to arrive this spring.
Even more exciting than Pokkén Tournament is the second-ever Pokemon title released for mobile devices, Pokémon Go. Pokemon Go will be an augmented reality app that uses a player’s location data in conjunction with an additional peripheral. Together, they’ll help to identify whenever a creature is near the player’s location. The app will then use the camera from the player’s mobile device to display Pokémon in the real world that users will be able to catch and train. There are even supposed to be gyms and other features to keep gamers coming back. The app is set to be free-to-play, though it will support in-app purchases, and will be released sometime this year.
The franchise released the casual gaming app Pokémon Shuffle in late 2015 to much fanfare, and the company’s jump to the mobile gaming market has been a long time coming. The series has used casual mini games as part of its appeal since the beginning, starting with the slot-based “Game Corners.” They have been a hallmark of the series since the original Red and Blue versions, so it comes as little surprise that the licensed puzzle game has been a success. In fact, the use of licensed titles to appeal to wider audiences has become a standard for online and mobile social casinos that make use of popular movie and TV show themes to increase their familiarity with casual audiences. Nintendo is clearly hoping that moving into the mobile market will bring them the same success. And it should, as millions of users are doing most of their gaming through their phones.
Pokémon has clearly taken over the world during the two decades since its inception. The companies behind it are prepared to remind everyone why we fell in love with the games in the first place. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for what’s sure to be a slew of news concerning the celebrations coming down the pipe.