Unpacking the Pokemon Super Bowl Commercial

Matthew Hadick
Games Pokémon
Games Pokémon

Nintendo has unveiled a trailer celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Pokemon Red and Blue. Scheduled to air during Super Bowl 50, the trailer features children across the globe as they resolve to find the power that’s inside by abandoning their mundane lives to catch and train the world’s Pokemon. The live-action trailer does a fine job humanizing the franchise by putting Pokemon battles in a real-world context — a father and son watch an epic battle from their couch, a young boy witnesses an encounter in his home town — inviting fans to “Train On.” Check out the trailer for yourself below:

Perceptive fans may have identified the handful of clever nods the commercial makes to Pokemon lore. In case you missed them:

Meaningful Tapestries

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The tapestries hanging from the wall on the right side of the frame are references to Pokemon Red and Blue, the first pair of games in the Pokemon saga.

Geographically Accurate

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As indicated in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen, this newscast is covering Kanto, the region where Pokemon Red and Blue takes place. The boy seems to be overlooking a coastal town surrounded by mountains — Mulberry City, perhaps?

Surf’s Up!

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This poster invites aspiring surfers to learn via HM03, the hidden machine that allows players to explore the water in Pokemon.

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This chess piece sure looks a lot like Nidoking, which would make sense for a chess piece. I would pay top dollar for a set like this one.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts — It’s Super Effective!

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These football helmets are adorned with a simplified version of the Fire Type symbol. I’m guessing they dominate Leaf Type teams but they can’t manage to edge out the Blastoise Blitzers.

An Important Year

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This is obviously a reference to 1996, the year Pokemon Red and Blue was released. It’s a good thing they’re running in that position — 9619 would be much harder to decrypt.

Lyrically Intriguing

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A nice reference to the original animated series’ theme song: “I want to be the very best / like no one ever was.”

Neon Delights

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In a neon-soaked metropolis, a pair of advertisements for some of Pokemon’s most coveted treats: Rare Candy and Moomoo Milk.

Old Friends

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Interestingly, while Gyarados, Charizard, and Magneton all appear in Pokemon Red and Blue, Lucario didn’t make his debut until 2007’s Pokemon Diamond & Pearl

The Family Pet

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What better way to cap off a nostalgia trip than with a notably furry Pikachu?

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