The Pokémon franchise turns 25 this weekend, and Game Freak marked the occasion with the announcement of two new games set in the Sinnoh region—Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, and Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
President and CEO of The Pokémon Company Tsunekazu Ishihara announced the new Switch games today during a special anniversary presentation. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are remakes of the Generation IV games from the Nintendo DS, developed by ILCA Inc. Original director Junichi Masuda from Game Freak is co-directing with Yuichi Ueda of ILCA. The remakes have preserved the scale of the original Sinnoh adventures while incorporating “player-friendly conveniences” from recent core series games.
Players will choose either Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup as their partner and embark on a grand journey through Sinnoh, exploring its myths, battling Team Galactic, and encountering either Dialga or Palkia along the way, depending on their version. Little is currently known about how the game will incorporate elements from Pokémon Platinum, the third installment of the Diamond/Pearl trilogy, or more modern games like Sword & Shield—like the Distortion World, or mechanics like Mega Evolution and Gigantamaxing. For now, Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are due to arrive in “late” 2021.
Game Freak had a surprise up its sleeve with Pokémon Legends: Arceus, a second Switch game set in Sinnoh, due in early 2022. This time, trainers will explore the region’s past in an action-RPG format and embark on a mission to create the region’s first Pokédex. Taking inspiration from the Wild Areas in Sword & Shield, this new format lets players sneak up on wild monsters to throw steam-powered Poké Balls, or battle them with their partner. To initiate a battle, players throw their Pokémon’s ball near the wild monster, and battle will seamlessly begin.
Game Freak is handling this new installment alone, aiming to immerse players with new gameplay while also honouring the core experience. Sinnoh will be familiar to long-time fans, but also wildly different from the populated region seen in the Diamond & Pearl games. Trainers will choose from three non-native Pokemon for their partner—Rowlett, Cyndaquil, or Oshawott, each having arrived in Sinnoh in the care of a travelling Pokémon professor. Ultimately, the journey will lead to a fateful encounter with Arceus, the legendary monster who is believed to have created the world.
More footage of New Pokemon Snap was also shown, ahead of its launch on April 30. Various methods of interacting with wild monsters were detailed, like playing melodies, or using the Illumina Orb to make them glow. Photos will be scored based on pose, framing, positioning, and the rarity of the subject’s behaviour. The camera can also be used to run scans to find hidden Pokémon or details of the environment, and researching each course will unlock new events and occurrences there. A photo editing mode, personal photo album, and online sharing options will help round out the experience.
For now, anniversary events are taking place in current Pokémon games, with special encounters in Go, Sword & Shield, and Masters EX, and a login bonus for Cafe Mix. If that’s not enough, Post Malone is performing in a virtual Pokémon Day concert tomorrow at 7PM EST, having released a special promotional single for the occasion—a cover of Hootie & the Blowfish’s “I Only Wanna Be With You.”