It's that time again! Pokécharms is 17 years old as of today, which means that next year it'll officially be old enough to vote. Considering that most of the staff have been here at least a decade, I'm not sure whether that makes us dinosaurs, or fossils. (I could cope with being a cute little Bulbasaur, but I'd rather not be a broken Dracovish, thankyouverymuch!)
It's a strange time that I find myself writing this, what with the novel coronavirus COVID-19 becoming a pandemic around the world. Here in the UK, many workplaces are switching to remote working only. My university has already shut for taught course students, and the labs will be closing for research students on Friday. So a lot of us are finding ourselves having to adapt to sudden enforced lifestyle changes, which means we're all stressed and rather short of energy. Hence we don't have any fantastic new artwork to share with you.
So I thought I'd write a review of the past year as seen here on Pokécharms.
The first excitement of the year was Detective Pikachu, released worldwide in May 2019. While the story was a bit lacking and had a couple of major plot holes, that was nothing compared to the excitement of seeing Pokémon on the big screen as living, breathing animals. Just the amount of detail in Pikachu's fur had us in awe. The Bulbasaur scene had even the toughest of the Pokécharms staff melting.
Next was Pokémon Rumble Rush, released rather suddenly for Android in Australia only on 16th May 2019, then for the rest of the world the following week, and for iOS on 23rd July 2019. Pokécharms founder @Doctor Oak wasn't the most impressed, giving it only two stars in his review, but noted that it was pretty fair as free-to-play games go. He wrote "If you’re playing the game in 15 minute increments on the way to and from places you’ll never find yourself unable to actually do anything".
June and July 2019 were all about Pokémon Sword/Shield hype. First we learned about Gossifleur, Eldegoss, Corviknight, Drednaw, Wooloo, and the two Legendaries Zacian and Zamazenta. We were introduced to Professor Magnolia, Sonia, Hop and Milo, and discovered that Dynamaxing would be this Generation's new mechanic. At E3 we learned about Nessa, co-op play in the Wild Area, Max Raid Battles, and Pokemon Home. We also discovered the new Pokémon Yamper and Impidimp.
August saw the launch of Pokémon Masters, another free-to-play mobile game, in which instead of catching Pokémon, you catch Sync Pairs – combinations of a famous Trainer from previous games and their signature Pokémon. @Doctor Oak enjoyed it considerably in his preview, and I can assure you that he and our admin @Linkachu play it all the time.
Pokémon Sword/Shield news continued to trickle out over the summer and early autumn. In August we were introduced to Galarian Weezing, Zigzagoon and Linoone, along with new evolution Obstagoon, new species Morpeko, and rivals Bede and Marnie. A Nintendo Direct informed us about in-depth character customization options, camping and curry cooking features. (I remember thinking at the time that the concept of curry was just ridiculous - now I use it all the time as a cheaper way to heal all my Pokémon at once). September saw the reveal of Galarian evolution Sirfetch’d, while Galarian Ponyta and more Gigantamax forms were revealed in October.
Over on our sister site GameCrash, @Doctor Oak wrote a deep dive into the history of the Pokémon franchise, beginning with an introduction to the creator of Pokémon, Satoshi Tajiri, followed by the troubled 6-year development of the original Pokémon Red & Green games, how Pikachu became the Pokémon mascot, and an explanation of the relationship between The Pokémon Company and Nintendo.
October also saw the launch of the pop-up (temporary) London Pokémon Center, which I visited far too many times due to being disabled and thus being able to wait in the special shorter line. The special "shorter" line which was only 1 hour's wait instead of 6 hours, that is. We had a mini staff meetup of myself, @Linkachu, @Teapot, @Demelza and @StellarWind Elsydeon in which we all peer-pressured each other into buying TOO MUCH STUFF. @Teapot bought a GIANT WAILORD plushie which has been nicknamed the Emotional Support Wailord, and we gifted @StellarWind Elsydeon a "mini-facepalm" Exeggutor plush as a birthday present.
November saw the release of Pokémon Sword/Shield and a sudden dearth of news as we all started playing it. I spent release weekend with @Doctor Oak, @Prof. Cinders, @Linkachu, @StellarWind Elsydeon, @Teapot and @Demelza over at Pokécharms Towers. Speaking entirely personally, I haven't been into the Pokémon games for a while - I didn't play Pokémon Black 2 or White 2, didn't finish X/Y or Alpha Sapphire, and didn't even start Sun/Moon or Ultra Sun/Moon. By the end of the weekend watching my friends play Pokémon on the big TV, I had bought myself a Switch and downloaded Pokémon Shield. I'm still playing it.
Somehow, despite doing all the Max Raid Battles, we were able to launch MyPokemonJournal as a way for people to share their Pokémon Switch adventures from Twitter, and updated the Trainer Card Maker with all Generation 8 Pokémon!
Since then we've learned about the Pokémon Twilight Wings anime shorts, started moving our Pokémon from previous Generations with Pokémon Home, seen the release of Mewtwo Strikes Back - Evolution in English, and been utterly hyped up about the new DLC for Pokémon Sword/Shield, The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra. It has, in fact, been a ridiculously busy year for Pokécharms.
What's been your favourite Pokémon thing over the past 12 months? Let us know in the comments.