Pokemon Is Getting a New Arcade Game, But There’s a Catch

A brand-new Pokemon arcade cabinet is coming to game centers this summer, but there’s a catch that could keep many fans from playing it.

Pokemon Is Getting a New Arcade Game, But There’s a Catch


  • Pokemon Frienda, a new arcade game, is coming to Japan in 2024 for younger players to enjoy immersive 3v3 battles with touchscreen displays.
  • Pokemon arcade cabinets have been popular in Japan, with spin-offs like Pokken Tournament and Pikachu-centric card games being featured.
  • Unfortunately, Pokemon Frienda will only be available in Japan for now, but may expand to other territories depending on its success.

A new Pokemon arcade game is coming out this summer — but only in Japan. In addition to the mainline Pokemon games, Nintendo’s long-running, monster-collecting JRPG series has spawned numerous spin-offs in a variety of different genres. These run the gamut from less-remembered one-offs like Hey You, Pikachu to more successful ventures like Detective Pikachu and Pokemon GO, the latter of which continues to be a global sensation thanks to new events and content being released regularly.

There have also been plenty of Pokemon arcade cabinets over the years, especially in the franchise’s native country of Japan. The fighting spin-off Pokken Tournament, a collaboration between The Pokemon Company and Bandai Namco that combined the colorful creatures of Pokemon with the blistering action of Tekken, saw a limited arcade run at the Dave and Busters at Times Square before hitting the Wii U in 2016. A variety of other Pokemon-themed cabinets include Pikachu-centric card games and rhythm titles, though these rarely leave Japan.

Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Tomy Arts Co. and game maker Marvelous recently announced that they would be releasing a brand-new Pokemon arcade game in Japan later this year, as reported by PR Times (via Siliconera). Pokemon Frienda will be aimed at younger players and features a touchscreen display and traditional buttons that will allow gamers to take part in immersive 3v3 battles. The game will also utilize Frienda Picks, small card-like items that represent different Pokemon and are rewarded to players who catch them in-game. The Picks are then inserted into the arcade machine, which generates the Pokemon and presumably assigns them attacks to use in battle.

Pokemon Is Getting a New Arcade Game, But There’s a Catch

Pokemon Frienda Will Only Be Available in Japan

Pokemon fans from around the world hoping to dive into Pokemon Frienda outside of Japan may wish to temper their expectations, as the arcade cabinet is currently not scheduled to launch in other territories like the US or UK. Instead, it will be stationed in game centers in Japan in July 2024. On the plus side, Takara Tomy Arts Co. and Marvelous are planning to make Pokemon Frienda compatible with other Pokemon machines like 2020’s Pokemon Mezastar by allowing players to unlock special bonuses using Mezastar’s “Memory Tags” — though details are still scarce as of this writing.

Pokemon Frienda sounds like an interesting arcade experience for Pokemon fans that uses the franchise’s primary tenant of collecting different elementally-empowered monsters to hopefully keep players coming back to their local game center, though there will likely be gamers outside of Japan disappointed that the cabinet won’t be appearing at their local arcade anytime soon. If the latest Pokemon arcade game proves successful in Japan, there is a chance that it could see a wider release abroad, but that would depend on how players react to Pokemon Frienda when it launches this July.

Created by Satoshi Tajiri

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