2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the release of the original Pokemon games. Here's why I believe it's going to be the best year ever to be a Pokemon fan.
Pokemon is a franchise that refuses to quit. Since the launch of Red and Green in 1996 (later renamed Blue for its Western release), the series has continued on, getting stronger with every year. Even today, the huge range of games, merchandise, and TV series remain popular in both the adult and child demographics. Now, as the brand celebrates its 20th anniversary, here's why I believe that 2016 will be the year of Pokemon.
First of all, 2015 was a relatively disappointing year for Pokemon fans, as it was the first year with no major series release in the West since 2010. What we did get, however, were promises of things to come in 2016, ranging from Pokken Tournament for Wii U and Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow coming to the eShop to Pikachu coming to Build-a-Bear and a re-release of the original Pokemon trading cards.
Personally, I wasn't a big fan of the latest games in the main Pokemon series, Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, but that is probably just because I played the original Ruby and Sapphire games to death and, in my very passionate opinion, they are so good that they absolutely did not need a remake. The first main series games on the 3DS, X and Y, were some of the best Pokemon titles that have been around in recent years, so to say that I was a little disappointed with my purchase of Alpha Sapphire was an understatement.
Whilst there has been no announcement of the next main series title as of yet, I think it's a fair shot to say that we'll at least be getting a Pokemon Z announcement in the second half of the year, especially judging on how successful the series has been. Another sign I think that points to a potential Pokemon Z is the reveal of Shadow Mewtwo in Pokken Tournament. Mewtwo was a popular Pokemon that was brought back into the games in recent times in order to showcase Mega Evolution. Now the legendary Pokémon is back with a new Shadow form, a brand new appearance that, so far, has no explanation or back story.
The biggest, most exciting thing that is coming to the Pokemon franchise next year is without a doubt, Pokémon GO. Nintendo is finally releasing the game that those of us that grew up with Pokemon have been wanting for years. After a $30 million investment, The Pokemon Company has sunk a lot of time and money into this project, as well as partnered with Ingress developers Niantic in order to make the Augmented Reality title. Pokemon GO will be the first major Nintendo game to have been made for mobile devices and, if successful, it could be the start of a something big for the company.
Personally, I'm very passionate about this project and I'll be the first one in line for the app's release, searching for rare Pokémon to add to my collection. After the recent release of new Pokemon GO details, I think people are starting to have real faith in the game. The only worry I have with the app is that Nintendo will be releasing it for free, outside of a purchase of a Pokémon GO Plus device, and this may inspire the company to adopt the 'fremium' model. A payment option to raise Pokémon capture rates or allow for more captures for hour would be a disastrous move for Nintendo and would suck much of the fun out of the game that currently has so much potential.
Another game that The Pokemon Company will be releasing in 2016 that more than makes up for the recent lack of main series titles is Pokken Tournament. After the announcement that the Pokemon x Tekken fighting game would finally be coming to the West on the Wii U in Spring, there was a lot of excitement from fans of both series, especially as the game was originally only released in Japanese arcades.
Now though, the Pokken Tournament is looking better than ever, with a huge increase in the number of playable characters from those available in the arcades, as well as local multiplayer for the Wii U, which may allow the game to have a competitive scene. The game now includes 2 versions of both Pikachu and Mewtwo, which is sure to make for some interesting matches.
Recently, Nintendo also announced a range of special items that will be released as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations, including remastered versions of the original Pokemon movies, a Nendoroid Red, and special edition Charizard/Blastoise 3DS system. I've never been able to justify upgrading my original 3DS to a newer model but now it's going to be a hard thing to resist, especially since the system comes with a free copy of the original Pokémon games.
Regardless of whether any new main series title is announced this year, it's a huge year to be a Pokémon fan. What game are you most excited about this year? Leave us a comment and let us know.