Happy sixth anniversary of Pokémon GO! As is tradition, each year a new piece of incredible artwork is created by an amazing artist to both celebrate the anniversary, and tease of things yet to come. This year’s anniversary art is drawn by Yusuke Kozaki (@kymg on Twitter), who is also in charge of character design for Pokémon GO, and it is gorgeous!
In a really cool throw back, this special sixth anniversary art looks back at the very first anniversary art!
The above is the first anniversary art, and you can see below we have many similar aspects. The Kanto starter final evolutions still sit atop gyms, but are now all their Mega Pokémon evolutions. Venusaur is joined up on the gym by Cyndaquil instead of Tyrogue, Charizard is shown fighting off Mega Latios (Latias? Who can tell?) instead of Aerodactyl, and Blastoise is still firing off their water cannons.
The PokéStops are all in the same positions, and there are some similar poses from the Team Leaders. Candela is nearly identical in pose, Blanche is in the same location but instead of reading a book, is cuddling an Alolan Vulpix and Ninetails, but this time Spark has managed to stay on the ground! Interestingly, instead of Spark falling through the sky, we have a trainer avatar character leaping up to Togekiss instead. Cute! Professor Willow is still leading the adventure with another trainer avatar character, but he has ditched the bike for the sixth anniversary.
Rhi also joins the characters this year, looking on in awe at the array of Pokémon.
The anniversary images are often seen as teasers for things to come in GO, but we can’t take that as 100% fact because looking back at previous years, we still don’t have some of the Pokémon shown in the images. Mega Lucario was seen on the fourth anniversary poster two years ago, and Mega Mewtwo appeared on the fifth anniversary poster, and neither of those are in game still a year and two years later. However! Many of the Pokémon featured do make their way into the game, so let’s take a look at who we have that isn’t yet in Pokémon GO.
We’ve already been speculating about any potential impact Turtonator could have on GO recently, and there are some real fan favourites teased here! Vivillon is a Pokémon we have been crying out for, it has so many different patterns that we suspect it will be a new regional exclusive Pokémon, with different patterns found all over the globe. Cosmog is one of the Alola Legendaries, and it will be a very interesting Legendary to see how they implement in GO, because it evolves! It evolves into Cosmoem, then either Solgaleo, or Lunala, with the evolutions being dependent on day and night time in game. We already have the midnight and and midday versions of Lycanroc in game, but for some reason, no dusk version, which is the version pictured here. Charjabug evolves into Vikavolt, and is a chunky little Electric and Bug type. Arguably one of the most long awaited Pokémon, Mimikyu, is the one people will be most hyped about. A true fan favourite, with every tweet Niantic make I see people asking for two things, Cowboy Hat Caterpie, and Mimikyu. And it looks like Mimikyu is hopefully coming soon!
Now, really interestingly, this image breaks the tradition we’ve seen every year, in featuring the next generation starter Pokémon. Instead of generation 8 starters Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble, we see Rowlet, Cyndaquil and Oshawott. These three starters form the Hisuian starter Pokémon, with their own Hisuian final evolutions, could we be seeing Hisuian versions coming to GO soon? GO is quickly catching up with the generations of Pokémon we have already seen released, so it would make sense to drop into the Hisui region before we enter the Galar region properly. It offers up many new variations of existing Pokémon we already have, plus new evolutions for other Pokémon we have in GO, so will be a great way to add new Pokémon in game, without catching up to the main series releases.
We also have featured two brands new characters! A feminine character dressed in purple walking with Spark, sporting an adorable Vivillon bow that we had better get as an option in game, and a more masculine character peeking out from behind Turtonator. We have no information about these two characters bar their appearances in this image, we’ll have to wait and see to find out more! It is great to see another black character join the game, more diversity is always a good thing. The character hiding behind Turtonator has a measuring tape wrapped around their hat, and is wearing an outfit that could be said to be quite worker or miner like in the main series, could they be linked with the new ‘routes‘ feature we have been teased? A hiker? The other character wearing the Vivillon bow could hint at some sort of research or event focused on Vivillon, they are definitely more mysterious, love that purple jumpsuit!
Thoughts & Feelings on Six Years of Pokémon GO
Can you believe we are really at six years of Pokémon GO? It come out a month after I got married (and I often joke that it is a good thing it happened before the GO obsession came), and it has been a wild six years. We could never have predicted the pandemic, and all the changes it brought to the game, or even that GO would still be going so strong after all this time.
We’ve made new friends because of GO (Hi Matt! Hi Bev!), and even reconnected with old ones (Hi Scott and Scott!). We’ve seen Pokémon from 7 different regions be released, we’ve caught shiny Pokémon and 100% IV Pokémon, and we’ve lost hundo legendaries from raids and had shinies flee on event days. We’ve seen trading, raids and PvP all come to the game, and we’ve seen the joy of a shlundo trade, and felt the despair of a 12/12/12 lucky trade.
We’ve seen Pokémon GO content creators come and go, we’ve seen those magical first few weeks of GO when it felt like the whole world was playing peacefully, and we’ve seen those weary winter months of the pandemic when we had to play completely alone. We’ve travelled the world for events, or stayed in our home towns and played in our own ways. We’ve seen the introduction of Global GO Fest, as well as the Kanto and Johto Tour. We’ve seen controversies and #HearUsNiantic. We’ve seen bugs and glitches and errors galore.
We’ve seen amazing Community Days, and rather lacklustre ones, we’ve seen people thrilled to see their favourite Pokémon appear in game, and others who are still desperately waiting. We’ve seen incredible global communities pop up because of GO, like AR and PvP. We’ve seen rural players struggle, and city players almost overwhelmed. We’ve seen regional Pokémon released most of us will never be able to travel and catch, and we’ve seen guaranteed shiny Mythicals released, something many of us thought would never be possible.
We’ve seen people start playing who have loved Pokémon their whole lives, and people who discovered Pokémon because of GO, who we get to watch fall in love with our chosen fandom for the first time. We’ve seen many highs and lows, in game, and in our own lives, but GO has been with us along for the ride for six whole years now. We’ve seen GO be a bright spot to cheer us up on the darkest days, and we’ve seen the days when we can’t quite be bothered to log in because nothing is really going on. We’ve known Pokémon GO was always there for us, something to distract us, get us on our feet, and keep us active, and give us a reason to go outside. We’ve adventured into nature, and wondered why car parks always have better spawns, and we’ve tried to catch Pokémon on top of mountains and in forests, even knowing we didn’t really have any phone signal.
We’ve seen arguments with Niantic’s vision, and been frustrated by changes to the game, and we’ve seen new aspects of the game be introduced that made our experiences playing even better. We’ve seen trainers come and go, we’ve walked thousands of kilometres, used more battery packs than we ever thought possible, and caught literally millions of Pokémon.
Oh, and we’ve seen Costume Pokémon. A whole lot of Costume Pokémon.
We might not always see eye to eye, but thank you Niantic for the last six years of Pokémon GO, and here to many more! Here’s to best and brightest future for Pokémon GO, we can’t wait to see what this year brings.