This Pokemon card problem has finally been fixed after 25 years

Pikachu looks embarrassed next to a phone displaying the Pokemon cards
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo)

The back of English-language Pokemon cards has finally been fixed after 25 years.

Despite launching decades ago across the US and UK, the back of Pokemon cards have remained the same since 1999 – and they've always been wrong. More specifically, the Poke Ball that sits in pride of place opens the wrong way. Rather than the button being on the lid, it sits at the bottom instead which means your pocket monsters would essentially 'fall out' when the Poke Ball opens. However, as spotted by eagle-eyed fan TAHK0 on Twitter, that seems to be changing. If the recently-revealed Pokemon TCG Pocket is anything to go by, it's being put right at last with an all-new design.

As seen in blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpses throughout the trailer, this digital spin on one of the best card games has ditched the old version for something more like the Japanese equivalent: the Poke Ball (with the button in the correct place this time) now faces forward and is surrounded by a more colorful background. There are added sparkles too, which makes the whole thing feel more dynamic.

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It's unclear whether this design will carry across to the paper version, but I certainly hope it does. I'd never noticed the Poke Ball goof before, and now I can't unsee it…

Naturally, it's not quite as simple as that. Because all existing cards in circulation feature the old design, adding new ones to those decks won't be seamless – being able to tell what's new at a glance defeats the object of a random shuffle, after all. Perhaps reprints could feature the revised design, and the old one is gradually phased out? (I'm quickly realizing why the Pokemon TCG's never tackled this issue.)

No matter what, it'd certainly be as good a time as any for change. With Pokemon Pocket setting its sights on newcomers and more accessible matches, it's likely to bring a fresh wave of players to the paper equivalent. Why not use that as an opportunity to start over?

For everything announced at the Pokemon Presents stream (including Pokemon Legends: Z-A), check out our guide.


For recommendations on what to play next, be sure to check out our lists of the best board games and the best tabletop RPGs.

Benjamin Abbott
Tabletop & Merch Editor

As the site's Tabletop & Merch Editor, you'll find my grubby paws on everything from board game reviews to the latest Lego news. I've been writing about games in one form or another since 2012, and can normally be found cackling over some evil plan I've cooked up for my group's next Dungeons & Dragons campaign.