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Two decades ago, Nintendo unleashed the first Pokémon games in Japan. On Friday, Nintendo celebrates this milestone with fans.

A Pokémon-themed Nintendo Direct livestreaming video event is coming 7 a.m. Pacific time (10 a.m. Eastern) on Friday. This is a chance for the publisher to look back on 20 years of the pocket-monster series and its place a popular-culture phenomenon with games, films, and merchandise — but it’s also an opportunity to reveal some more news about the franchise. The Pokémon brand has generated $45 billion in revenues since debuting in 1996, and Nintendo wants to keep that momentum going so it can rely on that revenue as it transitions to its next dedicated gaming hardware and into mobile games.

This Direct comes the day before the official 20th anniversary on February 27. Here at GamesBeat, we are loath to let a birthday like that go by without comment. So you should keep your eyes on our site (specifically the Pokémon 20th Anniversary tag) for several in-depth breakdowns of what Pokémon means, why it’s still so popular, and what its future looks like.

On Saturday, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company (which Nintendo owns in partnership with developers Game Freak and Creature) releases the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow games for the 3DS. The hardware manufacturer also launches a special edition New 3DS in North America that comes with both Red and Blue as well as two decorative face plates featuring art from the games.


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In other regions, like the United Kingdom, Nintendo releases color-coordinated 2DS systems with the games at retail.

Pokémon has a lot going for it this year. In addition to the Red, Blue, and Yellow rereleases, The Pokémon Company is preparing to unleash a promising new mobile game called Pokémon Go. This is GPS-powered augmented reality adventure where you must seek out and capture monsters hiding in locations around your real world. Nintendo is also preparing to release the Pokkén Tournament in partnership with Bandai Namco Entertainment for the Wii U in July.

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