Pokémon's 20th Anniversary Blowout

In 1996, Japan introduced the world to 151 unique and powerful creatures that would go on to take the world by storm. Pocket Monsters: Red & Green instantly ingrained itself into the Japanese culture, and similarly took over Western culture when it arrived in North America in 1998 as Pokémon Red and Blue on the Nintendo Game Boy. Now, 20 years after its debut, Pokémon remains a major part of the global culture, and Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have big plans to celebrate its special anniversary.

Pokémon fans have a lot to look forward to across the franchise’s spectrum of products and experiences. The celebration begins on February 7 with the series’ first ever Super Bowl commercial set to air during Super Bowl 50. Fans will be inspired by the ad to Train On, and all trainers are encouraged to visit the official Pokémon 20 website and share their favorite Pokémon memories on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube with the hashtag #Pokemon20.

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To celebrate where it all began, a New Nintendo 3DS bundle is planned for February 27, otherwise known as Pokémon Day, featuring both Pokémon Red and Blue pre-installed on the system and two cover plates the original box art from both games, as well as an exclusive Pokémon menu theme. The two games will also be available to download for all 3DS owners on that same day and feature wireless trade and battle features (R.I.P. link cables).

Two new Pokémon games are coming in 2016 as well. Pokkén Tournament, a fighting game from the makers of Tekken that features an all-Pokémon cast, is set to arrive on Wii U this spring. Three new characters were revealed in the latest issue of CoroCoro Comic (via Gematsu): Braixen, Mewtwo and Garchomp. Another character is expected to be revealed tomorrow, January 15. Also launching this year is Pokémon GO, an iOS and Android game in development at The Pokémon Company that features real-world Pokémon battles and catchable creatures.

Players of the Pokémon Trading Card Game are being treated to a host of new expansion and booster packs. The Pokémon TCG: Generations expansion, featuring superstars such as Pikachu, Snorlax and other Mega-evolved favorites, arrives in February, as well as specially marked Generations booster packs. 11 Mythical Pokémon Collections, each with two Generations booster packs, will be released throughout 2016, as well as four Red & Blue Collections featuring characters from the original generation.

Throughout 2016, 12 full-length Pokémon films will be added to digital download services such as iTunes, Google Play and Amazon, with one title being added to the Pokémon TV streaming service each month. Pokémon: The First Movie and Pokémon the Movie 2000 are the first two movies planned for release, and will also be available as part of a DVD and Blu-ray bundle of the first three films.

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Special retail events are being planned for 2016 as well, with Pokémon Day being the year’s biggest celebration both in stores and online. The biggest news of the day is the re-release of certain Pokémon amiibo figures. For those who missed out on Charizard, Jigglypuff, Lucario and Greninja, this is your chance to snag these characters. Additionally, four Mythical Pokémon (Mew, Darkrai, Arceus, and Genesect) will be free to download at participating locations for owners of a system in the Nintendo 3DS family and a copy of one of the 3DS Pokémon games. Toys ‘R’ Us locations will have exclusive foil Pokémon TCG cards featuring Pikachu and Magikarp. Other Pokémon merchandise, such as baseball caps and lanyard sets, can also be found on February 27.

I have many Pokémon memories that I’ve shared with friends and fellow fans over the years, and I look forward to sharing them with the rest of the world over 2016. Pokémon Blue holds a very special place in my heart, and I owe much of my gamer identity to the hundreds of hours I poured into it over the past 20 years. What are some of your favorite Pokémon memories? Share them with us in the comments below and on Twitter using #Pokemon20.

Source: Press release from Nintendo

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