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A player holds their phone and looks at Pikachu card.

Screenshot: The Pokémon Company / Kotaku

I’ve seen thousands of Pokémon cards in my time, and I had become so desensitized to an error on nearly every card in the United States that I’d forgotten about it. If you’ve ever seen an American Pokémon card, you’ll know that the back of each features art of a Poké Ball opening up. These devices are used in video games, anime, and any other Pokémon property to capture the titular creatures. In most iterations, they open differently than how they’re illustrated on the back of American cards. But that finally seems to be changing in the new Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket app announced during the February 27 Pokémon Presents.

Poké Balls are divided into two hemispheres separated by a thick line with a button in the center. This button is used to expand the ball into a larger, throwable form and also glows red to indicate a Pokémon is struggling to escape capture inside. When these machines open up to catch or release a monster, the button is typically seen attached at the top hemisphere. This is the red section seen in the default red-and-white Poké Ball. At least, that’s how it’s usually portrayed. American cards have been an outlier in this since the card game debuted in the country in 1998, as they show the button attached to the lower white section.

TAHK0, a pixel artist and Pokémon YouTuber, went viral after pointing out on X (formerly Twitter) that the Poké Balls on US cards open with the center button on the wrong side back in 2019. In follow-up tweets, he points out that Poké Balls have undergone several tweaks in different Pokémon media before becoming unified, so there’s plenty of official art of Poké Balls that look off in one way or another. Japanese cards were updated in the early 2000s to correct the error, but American ones have kept the original art over the years. This is changing in Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket, which will be using new art that keeps the same concept but with an accurately opening Poké Ball.

It’s a small change, and people who have nostalgia for the old art may take issue with it, but I’m surprised it took The Pokémon Company this long to update the cards. These days, the franchise at large seems very concerned with brand synergy, and having something that doesn’t adhere to the rest of the franchise be a pillar of your business seemed at odds with how the series operates. IGN speculates that this could have been to ensure the cards themselves were uniform for tournament legality.

Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket is coming to iOS and Android devices in 2024.

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