Strong character design forms the basis of the Pokemon franchise. The need for Pokemon attractiveness is obvious, but a lot of work goes into other characters that players meet on their travels. From the main character and the regional professor to the elite four and the champion, the Pokemon franchise is built on market projects. This plays a big role in the enduring relevance of old monsters, especially when they appear together with new designs.
However, one of the most prominent characters in all Pokemon does not come from games. Ash Ketchum, known as Satoshi in Japanese, is the longtime protagonist of the anime series Pokemon. He and his Pikachu, who definitely follows him outside of pokeball, have been traveling the Pokemon world for decades to become champions. The iconic duo is the face of the franchise, despite the fact that Ash himself has never appeared properly in the main series of games. Despite this, there are many references to Ash Ketchum scattered everywhere, and he even appears in several minor titles.
link: Pokemon: All Ash’s companions from the anime
Ash ‘s appearances in the main Pokemon games
Ash Ketchum is based on Red, the canonical protagonist of the first generation of Pokemon games. Ash is a suggestion of a player’s name in Pokemon Red, Yellow, FireRed and LeafGreen, but the international version of Blue instead suggests Ash as a name for a rival character. Pokemon Yellow is based on Ash’s exploits in the anime, allowing the player to gain a Pikachu follower along with all three Kanto starters, while Jesse and James appear as members of Team Rocket. Despite this, Red and Ash have diverged in design and character over the years, and they cannot be considered the same person.
In addition to the exclusive Spanish link in Pokemon X and Y, Ash’s next appearance was in a special demo version of Pokemon Sun and Moon. The player could have received an unsigned letter from a character, presumably Ash. Greninja is included in this letter, and Ash is listed as his original coach. Using the unique Battle Bond ability, this Greninja can become an Ash Greninja. An even more direct reference can be found in the back room of the abandoned Sun and Moon Thrifty Megamart store. If you look closely, you can see a blurry photo of Ash and Pikachu on the wall. This may be the main Pokemon game closest to showing the main character of the anime, but the drawings of Pokemon Ash and Pikachu in regional Ash caps have been held since 2010.
Ash’s Cameos in Pokemon Spin-off Games
The Ash is stored separately from the main games, but there is no such rule for spin-offs. Ash appears on the cover of Pokemon Puzzle League for N64, and he acts both as a playable character in 1P stadium mode and as one of the selectable characters in his two-player counterpart. Ash and his Pokemon appear in various pucks in the Japanese arcade games Pokemon Tretta and Pokemon Ga-Ole. Ash can also be seen in the main menu of the North American racing game Pokemon Team Turbo. In the first American Pokemon Play It! a simulator of a card game on a PC, Ash is mentioned in the manual.
Ash’s strange appearances were on the Sega Pico educational and entertainment console exclusive to Japan. Ash is featured in Pokemon: Catch the Numbers!, I’ve Begun Hiragana and Katakana!, and Pico for Everyone Pokemon Loud Battle!, all of which came out in the early 2000s. Ash also participated in all three promotional games dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Perdue Farms, which were distributed in packages of Perdue Chicken Breast Nuggets in 2006. These Flash-based games consisted of Pokemon Team Rocket Blast Off, Pokemon Poke Ball Launcher and Pokemon Seek & Find. featuring Ash as a male character and May as a female.
Ash’s last notable appearance was at the 2019 April Fool’s Day event for Pokemon GO. While Pikachu, Raichu, and Pichu in Ash’s hat appeared in past events, Ash himself could photograph players who used the camera function that day. Many of Ash’s appearances come down to Easter eggs or gifts, but it’s nice to see that Pokemon and anime games overlap from time to time. Since Ash’s incarnation in Pokemon Journeys is apparently heading to Pokemon Masters EX, it looks like players will finally get to see him fight in a major game. After 25 years of anime adventures, it seems like it’s time to bring Ash back to the Pokemon games that started it all.