The go-to way that Pokémon GO developer Niantic celebrates just about anything is to throw some kind of hat on Pikachu … and that’s it. The latest instance has transformed a formerly cute tradition across the many Pokémon platforms into a Snorlax-like snooze.
On Monday, the Pokémon Company announced a bunch of Pokémon Day celebrations starting February 27. You can watch that weird Pokémon movie in which Pikachu speaks human English, make your Amazon Alexa speak like Pikachu, or even get some cool new Snapchat filters. But by far the most annoying bit of celebration comes in Pokémon GO, where there’s yet another Pikachu with a party hat. But it’s not even new.
This “special Pikachu” will appear in the Pokémon GO wilds “wearing a festive striped purple hat” … but it’s the same exact one they unleashed last year for Pokémon Day.
Even the new banner art they created is identical to last year’s with the Pokémon GO logo replaced with #POKEMONDAY:
Qualify this is doing the absolute bare minimum anyone could do. Literally doing nothing might even be preferable.
Would it be so hard to at least throw a new color scheme on that hat? Or introduce a new hat altogether?
If they need ideas, look no further than any Super Smash Bros. game ever, which was more successful than Pokémon GO in the high-stakes field of Festive Hat Pikachu design almost 20 years ago:
In 2017, Pokémon Sun and Moon introduced a bunch of Pikachu borrowed from the anime wearing their own caps, which included Ash’s hat. (That one, of course, has already made it into Pokémon GO.)
Niantic did sweeten the pot by giving this latest Pikachu the move Present and triple the Dust, but that barely compares to some previous in-game events. Integrating several other in-game bonuses and perks — like many past events have done — would be a good start.
The issue here is that rather than do new, slightly exciting things, Pokémon GO developers instead opt for a lazy recycling of things they’ve already done. It’s totally underwhelming. They could do so much more.
Even just offering a new hat for Pikachu that we haven’t seen yet in Pokémon GO might come close to being enough — there are plenty of aforementioned precedents for it in other media. Why not actually celebrate with the surprise release of new, legitimately “special” Pokémon? Even if it’s only temporary, it still beats just another fun hat. What we have now is less of a celebration and more of a shrug.
Festive Hat Pikachu will be available in Pokémon GO until February 28 at 4 p.m. Eastern.