Yesterday, on Twitter, the archivist @Lewchube shared that they had come into possession of some new high-quality scans of Ken Sugimori's original Pokémon artwork. And the differences are incredible to see after all these years.
According to @Lewchube, the new images come courtesy of @ExcaliburZero_Z, who went to the effort of sourcing and scanning artwork for all 251 Pokémon from the Pokedex strategy guide for Pokemon Gold & Silver. And from the few scans already shared on Twitter, we can see some pretty huge differences from the versions previously made available online, which were believed to be taken originally from Nintendo Power's Pokemon Red & Blue Player's Guide.
The artwork for Ivysaur, for instance, was originally supposed to be more of a green-colour as opposed to the blue seen in the low-quality scans, and the images in general are significantly less overexposed.
As @Lewchube noted in a follow-up tweet, these new scans more closely match raw scans provided by Game Freak for the Virtual Console releases of the Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, as well as the official artwork from the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Therefore, @Lewchube will be replacing the low-quality assets in their own Pokémon art archive and working with community sites like Bulbapedia to make these scans more widely available:
"We're going to be removing all low-quality Red, Blue, Gold & Silver Pokemon artwork from the Asset Archive, effective immediately. Each Pokemon will then be meticulously cut out for transparency in Pokedex order, and periodically uploaded in the coming months. We'll then be working with sites such as Bulbapedia (and anyone else that may be interested, feel free to reach out) to expand the reach even further, until everything is complete. For any more questions, please feel free to reach out in the poke-preservation chat in the Discord, thank you for your patience!!"
The response to this news has been mostly positive from what we can see, with fans shocked at the spectacular difference in quality. A small group of commenters, however, has expressed concerns that the original low-quality scans might become "lost media" as a result of their replacement.
@Lewchube addressed these concerns head-on in one of their follow-up tweets, pointing out that fans will still be available to view the low-quality scans via the Bulbapedia image revert function:
"Bulbapedia allows you to see previous reversions of every image dating back to the site's inception, and this will be the case with everything uploaded to that site. As it stands, this artwork is something you currently need to dive into the Bulbapedia archives to even see, so it's not like the low-quality scans that currently exist were front and center."
We don't know about you, but we think it's remarkable that we're finally able to see how this artwork was meant to originally look, and we certainly applaud @Lewchube and @ExcaliburZero_Z for their efforts to preserve Pokémon's past.