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Copyright Nintendo Source: Joystiq

Japan is channeling the Pika-power.

What’s cuter than Pokemon? Dressing the lovable monsters up in soccer uniforms and having them represent your country as its mascots. Never one to shy away from shameless cuteness, Japan has named Pikachu as its national soccer team’s mascot for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Pikachu won’t be going alone, though; it seems that he’ll also be bringing along some of his friends to join in on the fun (from Pikachu, clockwise: Squirtle, Litleo, Helioptile, Charmander, Fennekin, Meowth, Froakie, Pancham, Bulbasaur, and Chespin). Clearly the Japanese are capitalizing on their hottest commodity right now, even more so than the famous Mario.

However, I can’t help feeling like they’ve dropped the ball in a couple of instances here. First, it’s obvious that the choices shown in the above picture are meant to plug the most recent releases, X and Y. Of the eleven selections, six of them are those who made their debut in the newest generation of games. Oddly enough, the other five were part of the original 151. While it’s great for Nintendo that this is a sales-driven approach, I would’ve liked to see Jigglypuff (because it’s one of the most iconic Pokemon) and Voltorb (because it’s a ball) used instead of, say, Meowth and Helioptile… and yes, I realize how ridiculous I sound nitpicking this.

This is going to sound like wishful thinking here, but I could potentially see this springboarding the franchise into some sports titles down the road. Who wouldn’t want to play a Pokemon-based soccer video game? Or basketball? Or perhaps even football? I’d buy any of those games in a heartbeat with no regrets whatsoever. Whatever happens in the future of the series, this latest endeavor is sure to be memorable and I salute Japan for doing it.