What I Want From Pokémon's 25th Anniversary Celebration
In September, Nintendo released a Super Mario Direct presentation announcing (among other things) Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, and Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Switch. Shortly after that, I began thinking about what I'd like to see from a Legend of Zelda 35th anniversary celebration (if Nintendo chooses to hold one when the anniversary rolls around on February 21). We already know that another one of Nintendo's biggest exclusive franchises, Pokémon, is holding an anniversary celebration which, to this point, features a special logo, Katy Perry, and Post Malone. But that's likely not all it's going to feature, as The Pokémon Company has teased more announcements for February 27.
With just over two weeks to go until the big day, I wanted to run down a wishlist of announcements I hope to see when The Pokémon Company, Game Freak, Nintendo, and all their partners pull back the curtain on what they're planning and working on. Check out what I'd love to see from the Pokémon 25th anniversary celebration and sound off with your own wishlists in the comments section. In the meantime, be sure to check out my wishlist for a hypothetical Zelda 35th anniversary celebration here.
Give Us More Information on New Pokémon Snap
This is pretty much a homerun for February 27 at this point, which is why I'm leading the list with it. Details have been pretty scarce for the anticipated New Pokémon Snap, which was announced last June. We now know it's coming to Switch in April, but I expect The Pokémon Company to give us all the big, in-depth details fans of the original game have been craving for more than two decades.
Announce New Let's Go Games
Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu & Eevee were viewed by many as developer Game Freak testing the waters and learning what it could accomplish with the power of the Switch before making a full-on mainline RPG for the hybrid console, but it was much more than that. Let's Go, Pikachu & Eevee served as perfect jumping-on points for new and lapsed fans, while also bringing the Kanto region to life in ways gamers had never seen before. Remakes such as these are great for checking all the nostalgic marks for the longtime fans, while also making the older games more approachable and available; quality-of-life improvements abound in Let's Go, Pikachu & Eevee. If I had to choose which generation I'd want to see remade in this style, I'd go for Gen 2; not only does it make sense chronologically, but the Johto games are among my favorites in the series. It would also likely be easier for the studio to build the post-game parts of the adventure given the existing assets of Let's Go, Pikachu & Eevee. If not Gen 2, then I say let's go to Sinnoh! Diamond and Pearl are good games, but they could definitely use some of the quality-of-life improvements the Let's Go games were noteworthy for.
Put the Classic Games on Switch
Thanks to Nintendo Switch Online and several ports from the past, the Switch has become an outstanding platform for retro releases. However, the mainline games from Pokémon are nowhere to be found. Past Pokémon Day celebrations have brought classic games like Red, Blue, and Yellow to a then-modern platform, but why stop there? Why not give us some of the updated games like FireRed & LeafGreen or HeartGold & SoulSilver? As someone who has played FireRed & LeafGreen on a big screen thanks to my RetroN 5 console, I can confirm it still looks pretty good when blown up bigger than a Game Boy Advance screen. Not everyone has the ability to play these in their original forms, and even if they wanted to acquire the way to do so, retro hardware and retro Pokémon titles have skyrocketed in price. It would make a lot of sense for The Pokémon Company to make these officially available on Nintendo's wildly popular, modern system.
Continue Our Galar Adventure with More Expansions
In 2020 we saw the Pokémon series break free from the "follow-up game" approach to updating the experience. No longer would we need to buy a third game and start from scratch to get the definitive experience; instead, we could just purchase the Expansion Pass for Sword & Shield to continue the adventure on the same save file. Since it seems like our next mainline entry might still be a ways off, it feels likely that we could see a second Expansion Pass with two new adventures to add to the game. It also makes sense that Game Freak would want to round out the roster of Pokémon to finally complete the National Pokédex after the uproar of the fan base leading up to launch. Of course, if my new Let's Go games wish comes true, that might replace this as a possibility.
Give Us Meaningful In-Game Events
The Pokémon Company has already announced there will be in-game events for Sword & Shield to celebrate the anniversary, while February 21 kicks off Pokémon Go Tour: Kanto (pictured above) in the popular augmented-reality mobile title. But I don't want to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokémon with simply a plethora of Pikachu in Sword & Shield or an in-game Pokémon Go event where I have to pay $12 to participate. Give us fun activities that harken back to the spirit of those first games. Have Team Rocket invade Sword & Shield or bring back the original gym leaders in the post-game arena. And you can keep your Pikachu with a party hat in Pokémon Go. Give us something to be excited about that feels like a true celebration, not a phoned-in "maybe I'll check that out if I find time" cosmetic. I want these events to feel like must-see destinations.
Deliver Cool New Merch
As with any major milestone in the Pokémon franchise, I'd expect Pokémon Center to add a cool new line of merch to its already-robust offerings. The online storefront is already selling a Greatest Hits line (pictured above), while The Pokémon Company's collaboration with skateboard company Bear Walker sold out pretty much immediately, but I would be surprised if we don't get some 25th anniversary-specific items added to the merch options.
Give Us Just a Tease of Gen 9
It's likely way too early to get any kind of substantial information about the next mainline games, but we typically get three or four years between generations, so it stands to reason we'll get the next RPG in the Pokémon series in 2022 or 2023. If that's the case (especially if it's 2022), the big announcement we could get at the end of the Post Malone concert (which The Pokémon Company says fans will want to stick around for) could be a tease for Gen 9. Again, I wouldn't anticipate any kind of substantial information, but some kind of cinematic teaser or quick glimpse of the region would be enough to whet the appetites of the series' ravenous fan base.
What do you hope to see from Pokémon's 25th anniversary later this month?