Trainers who've logged in to Pokemon GO since yesterday will have noticed a new loading screen as the game prepares to launch. The new visuals depict a Team Rocket takeover that implies a large storyline featuring the classic Pokemon villains is due in the near future. While the artwork itself is brand new, some eagle-eyed Pokemon anime fans noticed that the building Team Rocket has taken over looks familiar, and that's because it's actually from the original Pokemon anime itself.


The artwork depicts Giovanni and his henchmen standing in front of the Viridian City Gym, with the Pokemon GO developers having done a fairly faithful recreation of the recognizable structure from the anime's first season. It retains the iconic overarching curved ceiling design and the symmetrical columns in front of the building, though the artists have removed the windows and changed how the stairs look. Still, it's easily recognizable as the Viridian City Gym - a classic setting which now plays host to some Unova Pokemon in the modern timeline.




Pokemon GO hasn't undertaken a significant crossover with the anime series as of yet, though this event could be implying that a change is on the horizon. The anime series is due to introduce a character named "Go", and with Giovanni having actually been the gym leader for Virdian City at one point in the games, the different mediums of Pokemon seem to be blending together. That being said, in the games Giovanni was only there temporarily, as he disappears and is replaced by Blue (prior to Gary Oak being the de facto antagonist), who battles players before they took on the Elite Four.


The developers have been teasing plenty of Team Rocket boss fights, so gamers should expect to square up against Giovanni and his henchman in the coming weeks, though it remains to be seen if the Viridian City Gym locale is worked into things somehow. With the art depicting shadow forms of everything from a Charizard to a Dratini, there's going to be some tough opponents to beat, along with some Team Rocket classics like Zubat and Meowth.


It's not clear when Pokemon GO will be introducing the new Team Rocket storyline, but given that the loading screen features the iconic villains from top to bottom, gamers should expect to blast off against them in the near future.


Pokemon GO is available now on iOS and Android devices.