A trio of previously Japan-only limited edition 2DS consoles, each styled after the original Pokémon games, will be released in the UK, Nintendo has confirmed. Even better for fans of the monster-catching series, the hardware launch is just one part of a year-long celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the internationally beloved franchise.
Similar to the 1996 Game Boy games, the handhelds will come in transparent red, blue, or yellow versions, each with a corresponding Virtual Console copy of Pokémon Red Version, Pokémon Blue Version, or Pikachu-centric Pokémon Yellow Version pre-installed. The limited editions will also pack in a sticker sheet to personalise the 2DS system, and a download code for a home menu theme.
The games themselves are identical to the original cartridge releases, albeit now able to trade and battle Pokémon wirelessly. That’s a relief for anyone still haunted by memories of a Game Boy link cable jiggling loose midway through swapping a prized critter. While the Nintendo 2DS may be better suited to younger players thanks to its sturdier build and lack of 3D features, nostalgic older players will be pleased to know that the Virtual Console versions will also be available to purchase through the Nintendo eShop separately.
Nintendo is also launching a pair of Pokémon themed cover plates for the New Nintendo 3DS (although only for the standard sized console — the New 3DS XL still lacks interchangable plates). One will feature artwork from upcoming game Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, while another spotlights classic Pokémon. Both the 3DS plates and the 2DS bundles will be available from 27 February — the date in 1996 when the first games launched in Japan.
That’s not all though. Nintendo also has a packaged version of the previously download-only Pokemon Rumble World launching on 22 January, followed by Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon itself on 19 Februrary. The publisher has also confirmed that Wii U brawler and Tekken hybrid Pokkén Tournament will be released this Spring, although an exact date has yet to be revealed.
Continuing the Poké-rollout through 2016, an anniversary site has been set up to chart events through the year. Property owners The Pokémon Company International has plans to run download events across Europe, offering one Mythical Pokémon each month starting with Mew, the very first “unobtainable” Pokémon, in February. Exact details are yet to be revealed — previous rarities have ranged in availability from general downloads to needing to attend a particular event — but they will be limited to players with the most recent Pokémon games: X, Y, Omega Ruby, or Alpha Sapphire.
The long-running trading card game will also get some of the anniversary limelight. However, unlike the Japanese celebrations, which see a re-release of the original trading card game, here in the west we’re instead getting a Pokemon Generations expansion. Available from late February, the new set will feature more than 110 cards with classic Pokémon, with some — including Charizard, Blastoise, and Venusaur — able to be evolved into “Mega EX” forms during the course of a match.
The augmented reality game Pokémon Go also remains on target for a 2016 release. Developed in conjunction with Niantic Labs, the mobile title will allow you to catch Pokémon in the real world, using the same technology and GPS tracking as Ingress.
Throw in plans for remastered editions of Pokémon’s anime movies and greater available of the TV series and films via streaming and digital download services, and the year ahead is going to be a big one for Pokéfans.