The Pokemon Go collaboration set has been out for several weeks now, and “peelable Ditto” cards have already started surfacing on the secondary market. If you’ve never played the (free!) mobile game Pokemon Go, some of the cards in this collaboration set will make you scratch your head. But even popular Pokemon have hidden context between Go and the TCG, so let’s start walking!
Let’s start with Mewtwo, the Pokemon adorning one of the theme decks for this set. If you’re a fan of Pokemon, you’re already familiar with Mewtwo, but did you know that the “world’s strongest Pokemon” has extra significance in Pokemon Go?
To understand why, I have to explain one of the biggest draws in Pokemon Go – Raids. Raids are events in which a “raid boss” is released at a larger PokéStop (a place where trainers gather items) called a “Gym.” Some Pokemon got into the Go set because of their appearances in raids! Although raids were intended to be in the game from the start, it took Niantic a year to put them in. The alternate art of Mewtwo V is a direct reference to this moment from Pokemon Go’s first commercial.
But that’s still only half the story. Pre-2020, there was something in Pokemon Go called an “EX Raid.” These were special raids that only people with a certain pass could do. Eventually, the pass was modified to allow people to invite their friends to these events. It was like getting an invitation to New Island.
Although Mewtwo was the first EX Raid boss, it wasn’t the last. Shortly after Gen III (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald/Hoenn) was made available in the game, Deoxys replaced Mewtwo in EX Raids. Arceus is not yet available in Pokemon Go, but given that some Gyms are churches, it would fit.
Pikachu and Eevee (and Meltan) –
While I don’t want to shoot too many Magikarp in a barrel, I should cover Pikachu and Eevee’s significance in Go. Along with being Pokemon’s mascots, they were the cover characters for the first Pokemon Switch games, Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee. For millions of Pokemon Go players, it was their first time touching a main series Pokemon game. Some Go events even have people dressed in Pikachu and Eevee mascot costumes!
Thanks to these games, Meltan exists in a weird Pokemon limbo in that it was released in between Generations VII and VIII. The only way you could get a Meltan was to send one of your Pokemon from Go over to Let’s Go, triggering an event that made Meltan appear in the mobile game. (This event can also be activated with Pokemon Home.) You then had to collect “candies,” Pokemon Go’s version of EXP, to evolve a Meltan into Melmetal. The only way to evolve Meltan is to do it in Go!
Yes, Pokemon Go appeals to the “Genwunners” by letting players pick between Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle at the start of their journeys. (There was, however, an old trick that let you start with Pikachu!) While it used to be the case that Charmander was the best Starter due to the relative scarcity of Fire-Types, that’s no longer true. What is usually the most important choice in any Pokemon game is largely meaningless in Pokemon Go. And, yes, Pokemon Go also has Shiny hunting!
Professor Willow –
I know what you’re thinking: “Professor Tree, yawn.” But in Pokemon Go, Professor Willow is an active character who appears for most in-game events, including Go Fest and Community Day. It’s weird if you don’t see him!
Articuno/Zapdos/Moltres (and Blanche/Spark/Candela) –
After reaching a certain point in Pokémon Go, players will be faced with the biggest choice in the entire game: are you on Team Mystic, Instinct, or Valor? Each team has a legendary bird as its logo and a trainer character as its “leader,” as well as a motto and aesthetic.
Does it affect anything? Sort of. Your team colour decorates your profile, and your “leader” pops up from time to time, but the impact your team has on your experience depends more on your area than anything else. There can be very “blue” cities and very “red” cities. Yellow/Instinct remains an underdog.
Ditto was part of the promotional material for this set, and with good reason. In Pokémon Go, you aren’t alerted to a wild Ditto appearing on the map. Instead, they’re disguised as another Pokemon! The TCG cleverly replicates this by “disguising” Dittos as reverse holo Pokemon cards. They looked like stickers anyways, right?
Remember how I mentioned Gyms? Remember how I mentioned the three teams? One of the biggest goals in Pokemon Go is taking over places in your town for the good of your team. Putting things in a Gym for a certain amount of time gives players coins that can be spent on raid passes and accessories. (Otherwise, you have to spend real money!)
While Chansey and Blissey always had a place in fans’ hearts, and Snorlax has always been a favourite, Slaking sticks out as a Gym-guarding staple. All four of these Pokemon have massive CP, moves that take down their counters, or both.
They say a Roselia by any other name would smell as sweet, but when you put a Pokemon into another game, the context can change drastically. The same thing happens when you transfer Pokemon from Go into a card game. A lot of the Pokemon in this set translated swimmingly. If you’re curious about, say, the Tyranitar in this set, why not give Pokémon Go a try and see what you discover?
Cereza – Ludkins Media Guest Writer