That’s right; Pokémon turns 25 years old on Pokémon Day(27th February 2021). Standing as the highest grossing entertainment franchise in history, Pokémon dwarfs the competitive with an estimated worth of around $92 billion. Instead of bathing in well-earned nostalgia, let’s look at the past, present and future of Anniversary celebrations.
Pokémon 20th anniversary highlights
Back in 2016, with Pokémon’s 20th anniversary, fans were spoilt rotten. The celebrations included a massive mythical Pokémon distribution throughout the year via online codes, as well as the long-awaited launch of Pokémon Sun & Moon – this particular generation has been hailed as one of the very best.
2016 was truly seeped in Pokémon nostalgia with the release of Pokémon Generations and Evolutions expansion sets for the Pokémon TCG. The latter, a re-release of the Wizards of the Coast base set, featured fan-favourite cards updated to fit current rules. Evolutions led to a value spike in those original Wizards of the Coast cards. I remember selling my original Base, Jungle, Fossil, Team Rocket and Gym Heroes cards for a small fortune. Of course, said wealth went on more Pokémon cards.
A 24-hour Pokémon movie marathon, hosted on the Twitch Watches Pokémon channel also went live on Pokémon Day, which covered all film releases at the time. Alongside the Pokémon Direct Sun and Moon announcement and release, trainers also saw the following releases in 2016:
- Pokkén Tournament (Wii U)
- Pokémon GO (Mobile)
- Super Mystery Dungeon (3DS)
- Pokémon Rumble World physical release (3DS)
- Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow Digital Release (3DS)
Pokémon 25th anniversary confirmed events
A few announcements have already been made despite no mainline game news ahead of Pokémon day 2021. A free virtual concert featuring Post Malone will air on 27th February – a big fan of the franchise, the rapper still has his original Game Boy Color and Pokémon cart.
As well as starring in a limited time Max Raid Battle event, a new version of Pikachu will be coming to Pokémon Sword and Shield, the Concert Pikachu coming equipped with the moves Encore, Celebrate, Electro Ball, and Sing. For the uninitiated, Pikachu is traditionally unable to learn Sing, either by levelling up or by any other means. Meanwhile, Pokémon GO has just held its tour event featuring Pokémon from the Kanto region, which was an excellent opportunity for players to fill up their Pokédex – a mix up with the paid content means that a bonus event will be coming soon.
Music themed Pokémon TV playlists will be live on Pokémon Day to tie-in with the musical presentation of Pokémon’s 25th birthday. P25 is an upcoming album featuring various artists, with pop star Katy Perry currently confirmed. We’re assuming Post Malone’s involvement.
As for new games, New Pokémon Snap will release on 30th April 2021. It’s been near the top of fan-requested releases since the original on Nintendo 64, which should be an event in and of itself. The Pokémon-themed MOBA, Pokémon Unite, is also set for release at some point this year, with a definite release date still up in the air. The live match at last year’s Pokémon Direct showcased the game as being very polished which hopefully means we’re not far off launch.
Pokémon 25th anniversary rumours
Now let’s address the elephant in the room; it’s looking like a safe bet that Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes are coming this year, following in the footsteps of earlier game remakes. Hoping for an official announcement on Pokémon Day, this would mirror the Sun and Moon announcement in 2016. Sinnoh is the next region for the remake treatment, with multiple Kanto, Johto and Hoenn remakes already in players’ hands.
Twitter users Centro Leaks alongside PokéXperto also picked up on a subdomain activation and takedown on Pokemon.com containing Diamond and Pearl. It happened on 12th January 2021, leading fans to further speculate on the remake’s existence. Reputable leaker, Kelios, has also gone on record for a November 2021 release for the Sinnoh region. There are also multiple “leaks” on Reddit which hold little water, but either way, Pokémon fans are excited about the announcement.
Another title rumoured to be in development is Let’s Go! Johto. It makes sense; the original Pokémon Let’s Go! was developed alongside Pokémon mainline titles Sword and Shield. It will be three years in November since the original Let’s Go! reimagining released, which might be a little early to start thinking about a sequel. If Diamond and Pearl remakes are happening alongside zero leaks to support their existence, Game Freak and The Pokémon Company probably won’t want two remakes releasing so close together.
Pokémon Day 2021 – what we want to see
While the Pokémon Masters leak was confirmed fake by Joe Merrick, Serebii.net’s webmaster, the idea of older games coming to Nintendo Switch isn’t a bad idea. A collection of separate eShop releases of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS/3DS Pokémon titles would almost certainly be a hit. Also, it would mirror the original trilogy of games releasing on the 3DS back in 2016.
Finally, fans think that Game Freak are gearing up for a big distribution event, seeing as next to nothing has happened in this regard bar Pikachu cap variants and the odd legendary. Although legendaries can be caught in Sword and Shield, an event for mythical Pokémon and shiny variants of the latter and legendaries would be great to see.
All eyes are on Saturday 27th February for more information on what’s in store for Pokémon’s 25th Anniversary. While Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes are fairly certain to be announced during the event, we’re clueless as to what else is in the pipeline.