Developers looking to modernize Pokémon with the series’ first seamless open-world installment.

February 27 has become known as Pokémon Day, in honor of the date being when the very first Pokémon video games were released for the Game Boy in Japan back in 1996. As it always does, the Pokémon Company celebrated Pokémon Day with a video presentation of its upcoming products, hosted by CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara. Things started out pretty low-key, with announcements of updates for Pokémon GO Pokémon Masters EX, and Pokémon Café ReMix, but it wasn’t all smartphone news, the presentation saved the best bit for last: a brand-new mainline Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch.

In keeping with tradition, the new game is actually a set of paired titles, to be called Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Among the keywords mentioned in the reveal are “open world. While the Wild Area of Pokémon Sword and Shield, the most recent mainline games, allowed for free camera movement, it was only a single section of the map, surrounded by fixed-camera areas which made up the bulk of the game’s world.

The developers are also touting a “seamless” style of play in Scarlet and Violet, which suggests that stark transitions from field exploration to battles, which have been part of the gameplay for the past two and a half decades, are finally being retired.

With a new mainline game comes a new, ninth generation of Pokémon to catch, and we’ve already been given a look at the selectable starter trio. As they set off on their journey, Pokémon Masters-to be will choose between Sprigatito, a capricious feline Grass-type, Fuecoco, a laid-back “fire crocodile,” and Quaxly, a duckbilled Water-type with a personality as put-together and reliable as his hairstyle.

The preview video cagily provides only the smallest glimpse of a map on the wall of the player character’s home, but the architecture has some strong Mediterranean vibes to it.

▼ Though you could also say it has a Southern Californian feel.

The towering structure seen in the video also has some similarities with Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia basilica, a site Japanese travelers to Spain are particularly enamored with.

In keeping with the video’s warm coastal climates, the player character’s starting outfit is appropriately breezy.

Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is when Scarlet and Violet is going on sale: Winter 2022. While fans whose internal clocks are set to Poké-time probably were feeling that we were due for a new mainline Pokémon game pretty soon (they’re usually spaced three years apart, and Pokémon Sword and Shield came out in 2019), Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a major release with plenty of polish, just came out on January 28, less than a month before the announcement of Scarlet and Violet.

So it sounds like it’s going to be a busy year for the developers who just wrapped Arceus only to shift gears right away to get Scarlet and Violet ready for release by the end of the year. But before you think “Wow, Nintendo really works hard!”, remember that…

it’s not Nintendo that makes the Pokémon games.

Source: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet official website
Top image: YouTube/ポケモン公式YouTubeチャンネル
Insert images: Scarlet and Violet (1, 2)
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he now wants a Pikachu flamenco performance in Scarlet and Violet.