Japan is gearing up for a big celebration in honor of the Pokemon franchise’s 20th anniversary — the first game was released there in February of 1996. Despite the fact that the mons weren’t imported to the US until two and a half years later (making 2016 more of an 18th birthday for us), The Pokemon Company is using this number globally and has a number of special events planned in America.
There’s going to be a Pokemon ad during the Super Bowl, for starters. It cost the company $5 million just to air, but it’ll be the first of its kind, and a glaring example of the generation gap (I can hear all the paunchy beer-swillers complaining about “baby Pokey-men” already). No one knows what it’ll be about, except for the vague statement that it “will encourage fans to Train On.”
February 27 is Pokemon’s exact birthday, and a number of events are taking place then. Nintendo will be using that day to launch Red, Blue and Yellow on the 3DS Virtual Console, as well as introduce a New 3DS (non-XL) bundle that includes a pre-installed copy of all three games and special faceplates of the Charizard and Blastoise art from the classic game boxes. You’ll also be able to find restocks of most of the Pokemon amiibo that day, including Charizard, Jigglypuff, Greninja, and Lucario. (As for Mewtwo, he just came out. If you want HIM don’t wait until February.)
A new expansion to the Pokemon Trading Card Game, the “Generations” expansion, will serve as a Greatest Hits of the franchise and will “cover every stage of a Trainer’s journey, from the choice of a first partner Pokemon to the most elite of Trainer battles.” The starter pack will come with Pikachu, Snorlax, Ninetales-EX, Jolteon-EX, Mega Charizard-EX, Mega Blastoise-EX, and Mega Venusaur-EX. Booster packs will be added to the Generations line throughout the year.
12 feature-length Pokemon movies will be released for the first time on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon starting later this month. Some of the movies will be remastered versions of Pokemon: The First Movie and Pokemon the Movie 2000, though the odds of getting the original Japanese versions or at least a more accurate dub of The First Movie are still slim.
This isn’t even mentioning all the 20th anniversary merch like T-shirts and plushies that will be heading to stores and online merchants. We all live in a Pokemon world now — who will be the greatest master of them all?