By Matthew Hughs
This year marked the 25-year anniversary of Pokémon, and it has been celebrated to the fullest. The franchise has used this year to expand its name throughout pop culture; for any Pokémon fans, 2021 was an exciting year.
The year started for Pokémon in February where there were numerous giveaways in their most recent games at the time, Pokémon Sword and Shield. The giveaways included exclusive Pikachu’s with different hats, event legendary and mythical, and events for rare encounters in game. This was the lead up to Pokémon day on February 27.
Pokémon day was an hour-long live stream where major announcements were made for the future of the game. However, the one of the best things about the live stream was not the announcements, but the entertainment. Pokémon worked with the major music artist Post Malone to create a cover of the well-known song by Hootie and the Blowfish, “Only Wanna Be With You.”
The modern take on this classic song is an animated music video and was a teaser into a game they released later in 2021, Pokémon Snap. This is a remaster of 1999 Nintendo 64 game also called Pokémon Snap with new graphics, environments, and many more Pokémon that have come out since then. The premise of the game is around snapping pictures of Pokémon in the habitat. The player has some ability to interact with the Pokémon to make them do different things to get a diversity of photos. There are several different maps with dozens of Pokémon to find and interact with. It was release on April 30, 2021, on the Nintendo Switch and is the least popular of the games announced on Pokémon day.
The next game that was talked about on Pokémon day was Pokémon Unite. This multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) was released on July 21 as a free Pokémon downloadable on the Nintendo Switch and mobile phones/tablets. The success of this game is yet to be really understood but this is the Pokémon franchises attempt at breaking into big league esports, similar to League of Legends or DOTA 2. The game is consistently being updated with new patches and new Pokémon to play. An indicator that the Pokémon franchise’s goal of moving more heavily into esports is paying off with Unite happened on December 2, 2021. Twitch rivals hosted a Pokémon Unite tournament for mobile that has accumulated over 230K views in less than 24 hours.
The most recent game released for Pokémon is the remakes of the popular generation 4 Pokémon games, newly named Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl (BDSP). Pokémon day teased these remakes as a celebration of the 25-year anniversary. However, one blemish on this newly released game name is that it has a plethora of bugs and glitches in the game, making it possible duplicate Pokémon, go through walls, etc. Generation 4 was arguably their most popular generation over a decade ago so bringing it back was most likely a strategic decision to get people back into the Pokémon franchise before 2022. The community consensus on the game is that it was rushed out, players are hopeful that it is because the Pokémon company was focusing on their next game.
The reason why the Pokémon company is getting people back into Pokémon with BDSP is for the last game that was announced on Pokémon day. This is by far the most hyped-up game for foreseeable future in the Pokémon franchise, Pokémon: Legends Arceus. Just like with Unite, Pokémon: Legends Arceus breaks away from the well-known RPG style of Pokémon game and into an open world sandbox game. Legends Arceus is coming out on January 28, 2022 and is heralded to be similar to the 2017 game of the year The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Pokémon: Legends Arceus is set in the same region as generation 4 Pokémon, like BDSP except set a few hundred years in the past. I am personally most excited for this game because it has so much potential to be an amazing single player game with dozens of hours of unique and engaging content.