For nearly twenty years, Pokémon has been one of Nintendo’s most iconic game franchises. Launching in 1996 in Japan, the franchise started with two Game Boy games – Pocket Monsters Red and Green. The series came west two years later, renamed Pokémon Red and Blue. The series found success quickly in all markets and branched into other media, including a trading card game, its own manga, and an animated series that led to a number of films. Proving the enduring popularity of the animated series, Pokémon has been airing consistently since 1997, having aired over 900 episodes to date.

2016 marks the twentieth anniversary of Pokémon and Nintendo is planning to celebrate the occasion. On February 27th, 2016, Nintendo will be re-releasing  both Pokémon Red and Blue as well as the original set of cards from the trading card game. 2016 is the year of Pokémon, and the celebration is just getting started.

Nintendo has revealed the release date for Pokkén Tournament, their upcoming Pokémon fighting game. The game will launch exclusively on the Wii U on March 18th, 2016, with a recommended retail price of $74.99. The game is priced higher than the typical Nintendo release, but the first run of physical copies will include a Shadow Mewtwo Amiibo card, unlocking the character for use in the game.

Pokkén Tournament was developed with Bandai Namco, the developers of the Tekken franchise. The game will feature sixteen playable characters at launch, including fan favorites such as Charizard, Lucario, and Pikachu, with more expected to be added after the game’s release. The gameplay will be similar to that found in the Tekken series, but Nintendo has stated the game will be friendly to newcomers and veterans alike.

Pokken Tournament Pikachu Nintendos Pokkén Tournament Gets Wii U Release Date

Originally released as an arcade cabinet, Nintendo announced the game would be coming to consoles worldwide at the 2015 Pokémon World Tournament. While excitement for the console version has remained high, there has been some evidence that the arcade cabinet was not especially successful. Destructoid reported that Japanese arcade Amusement Fantasista, located in Kurashiki, Okyama Prefecture, planned to remove their Pokkén cabinets, stating the game wasn’t popular or profitable.

That’s not to say that Pokkén won’t find success on consoles. The game presents a new way to experience the world of Pokémon, allowing battles to unfold in real time rather than turn by turn. The game also presents fans with the most impressive character models the franchise has seen thus far, utilizing the power of the Wii U to produce a smoothly animated, detailed look at the characters. Pokkén likely won’t unseat Street Fighter as the most popular fighting game on the market, but it promises to offer plenty of fun for poke-fanatics across the world.

Pokkén Tournament launches on Wii U on March 18th, 2016.

Source: Nintendo, Destructoid

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