Happy seventh 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 wonderful!
There are a variety of Pokémon featured, including a host of Pokémon not currently in Pokémon GO! It is important to remember that while some of those featured will be teasers to come in future updates, that the 6th anniversary art featured Dusk Lycanroc which is the only form of Lycanroc not yet released, as well as Mimikyu who is featured again this year with no release in sight. The 5th anniversary art showcased Mega Mewtwo X, who is also still not in GO. Just because a Pokémon is shown here, doesn’t mean they will be coming to GO any time soon unfortunately.
While previously these have all featured the next generation starter Pokémon, last year the Hisuian starters were featured instead of the expected Gen 8 starters, and this year it looks like we are skipping over Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble once again, right to the new Paldean starters instead.
Unreleased Featured Pokémon
Now some of these we know are indeed coming to GO very shortly. Mega Tyranitar will make their debut this month and Mega Rayquaza and Diancie are both part of Pokémon GO Fest 2023. With those already announced, let’s take a look at the other featured Pokémon who aren’t yet in game.
Gen 9 Pokémon
First up, the Paldean starters! They made their debut with Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and have quickly become fan favourites. It is unlikely we will see them for a while yet, but we could always get a shock release of them during the release of the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet DLC later in 2023. However, I suspect that it is more likely we’ll see a different debut to celebrate that DLC…
A regional form of Wooper feels more likely to feature as an early release from Gen 9, purely because it doesn’t involve a new Pokédex entry. Much like when Hisuian Voltorb was released without being able to evolve initially. Paldean Wooper evolves into the equally adorable Clodsire, instead of Quagsire, and it is another fan favourite from Paldea. Such a chonky cutie!
Gen 8 Pokémon
We also have a whole host of Gen 8 Pokémon from Pokémon Sword & Shield featured! Alcremie, Corviknight and Hatenna. Hatenna is a Psychic type known as the Calm Pokémon, and they evolve into Hattrem, and then Hatterene. Hatterene also has a Gigantamax form. Corviknight is a and Steel type that evolves from Corvisquire, with the first in their line being Rookidee. It also has a Gigantamax form. Finally, we have Alcremie, a Fairy type Pokémon with a whopping 9 different forms, and 7 different flavours, as well as a Gigantamax form! Technically that means it has 63 basic forms, as well as the Gigantamax which is always the same no matter which version of Alcremie you have. It evolves from Milcery. Alcremie is the Cream Pokémon and their different forms are all different types of Cream flavours and creams, with their Gigantamax form resembling a cake! It is interesting that they have featured Gen 8 Pokémon that all have Gigantamax forms… a hint of things to come?
Gen 7 Pokémon
Two Pokémon feature from Gen 7, Ultra Beast Naganadel who evolves from Poipole, a Poison and Dragon type, and Mimikyu, a Ghost and Fairy type that is hugely beloved. Mimikyu is a Pokémon people have been begging to see at Halloween, and after last year’s art people thought it may debut, but sadly it didn’t. Maybe 2023 is finally their year? We’ve also had teasers for Naganadel back in November 2022, so fingers crossed this means the rest of the unreleased Ultra Beasts are coming soon.
Gen 6 Pokémon
For Gen 6 we have a single Pokémon highlighted, Zygarde in their 10% form. Zygarde is a slightly more complicated Pokémon in terms of it debuting in GO. It is known as the Order Pokémon, and is a Dragon and Ground type. It doesn’t evolve, but instead has three different forms, 10% forme, 50% forme, and Complete forme, and it is formed of Zygarde Cells and a Zygarde Core. The Cells and Core cannot battle alone, and when fused together become the different forms of Zygarde, with each form needing more Zygarde cells. It is quite complicated, and it will be interesting to see how Niantic handle this Pokémon. Each forme looks quite drastically different, and it is the 10% form we see in the art, which is quite dog-like in design.
For Gen 6 we have three quite different Pokémon highlighted, Hisuian Goodra, an ancient form of Goodra, Hisuian Lilligant, the Hisuian version of Lilligant. In Hisui Goodra is a dual Steel and Dragon type, and gains a huge snail like shell on their back. Lilligant changes from being a Grass type, to a dual Grass and Fighting type, evolving from Petilil. Both of these could potentially feature in GO at any time, as we have other Hisuian forms in game already, like Kleavor.
Other notable parts of the art include that all the PokéStops appear to be golden, with Gimmighoul and Gholdengo featured prominently. Golden PokéStops feature in the seventh anniversary event, and are one of the new features introduced into GO this year. Speaking of PokéStops, we also see the illusive Kecleon on a stop. Can we also find it in game a bit easier please?
Some readers may wonder why I didn’t mention Carbink as a Pokémon not yet released in GO, but it has technically debuted in GO via the ‘In the rough’ timed research trainers for for purchasing their Global GO Fest ticket before 5th July. It will be available later in raids for Global GO Fest, and at the in-person GO Fests as a field research reward.
In the bottom left we can see a Sleeping Snorlax in a night cap, no doubt a promotion for the upcoming Pokémon Sleep! This particular costume Snorlax was announced on Pokémon Day 2023 as the reward from a special research line trainers can get by linking a Pokémon GO Plus+ with their Pokémon GO account.
Interestingly this year none of the Team Leaders, nor Professor Willow feature in this anniversary art. Professor Willow in particular usually features, and it seems odd to not include him when he is such an integral part of GO.
The background features PvP matches on screens, so hopefully this hints at new additions to PvP, and much needed bug fixes!
7 Years of Pokémon GO
It is quite wild to think that we are at the 7 year mark for Pokémon GO! 2023 has been quite a tumultuous year so far unfortunately, but we are hopeful for a strong GO Fest season.
So far we’ve seen Niantic lay off 230 employees, remote raid pass changes, the accidental introduction of 80m spawn radius, and its immediate removal and aftermath, the return of #HearUsNiantic, the introduction of Pokéstop Showcases, Routes are impending, Kecleon finally debuted, XXS and XXL Pokémon were introduced, Vivillon and the Postcard system arrived, Primal Groudon and Kyogre first appeared during Hoenn Tour, the Style Shop got a quality of life update, the first Shadow Raids, the Master Ball, we’ve lost The Silph Road, Pokémon Sleep and the Pokémon GO Plus+ were announced, the first Gen 9 Pokémon debuted in GO in form of Gimmighoul, which also introduced Golden PokéStops and Golden Lures, Catch Cards, Campfire is rolling out globally, and a whole host of other Pokémon debuts, including Megas, and shiny releases. In late 2022 we saw Zorua finally debut, a sticker quality of life update, the first Elite Raids, glowing Pokémon in the Festival of Lights, and more!
The last year has felt like a rocky one for Niantic and the Pokémon GO Community, with many disagreeing with the changes made, and feeling like they aren’t being listened to. Niantic have promised new features and exciting updates for the rest of 2023, so let’s look at the Litwick at the end of the tunnel, and keep our fingers crossed for a more positive rest of the year!