Early on Feb. 20, 2018, a 4chan user did what 4chan users do best and posted images allegedly showing off the real starter Pokemon to Nintendo’s future Pokemon Switch release. Found on the /vp/ 4chan message board, the artwork shows off an expected trio of starter Pokemon fitting within the staple Grass-, Water-, and, Fire-types. The designs, which match Pokemon’s art style perfectly, resemble a lemur, a platypus, and a rabbit respectively.
The validity of the designs is called into question considering the frequency of “fakemon,” or Pokemon fanart, and the fact that none of the three are remarkably different from Pokemon featured in prior titles. As Comicbook.com points out, lemurs have already been used as a basis for Passimian, which was featured in Pokemon Sun and Moon and Pokemon fans may remember Bunnelby, a rabbit-like fighter that first appeared in Generation VI. The platypus has seen representation in Psyduck and Platypow, a "fakemon."
Though Nintendo nor the Pokemon Company have yet to comment on the validity of the leaks, the one thing they have going for them is the level of detail. What may raise an eyebrow, however, is the fact that leaking fake Pokemon is nothing new to the Pokemon community and these images have a suspicious inclusion of English translations. According to a Twitter poll posted by @ActualAero, skepticism runs high in Pokemon fans. Of the 142 votes placed at the time of writing this, 63% believed the leaks were fake.
Muddying the waters are prior leaks that actually wound up being real, such as Decidueye, Primarina, Greninja, and Incineroar. If this unfolds in the same fashion as the official reveal of those Pokemon, it could still be months before gamers know whether or not they were introduced to their latest starters.
Pokemon Switch is currently slated for a tentative 2018 release date. Chances are, more details will be revealed at 2018’s E3 Expo in June.