Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a recovering addict. During the late-90s and into the earlier 2000s I had a problem, I just had to catch ’em all. Eventually I learned to kick the habit, though I’ve had a few relapses over the years. If you too are a Pokemon addict, you might be intrigued to know that the series is leaping off Nintendo hardware and onto your smartphone in a big and unusual way.
Nintendo’s Pokemon Company has now introduced a new mobile-only experience dubbed Pokemon Go, in partnership with Niantic Labs, the creators of Ingress. While this isn’t the first time that Pokemon have appeared on mobile, this is certainly the most ambitious, and oddest, effort so far. Basically, Pokemon Go is Ingress with all your favorite Pokemon friends, including Pikachu, Charizard, Mewtwo, and others.
Not much is known about the actual gameplay just yet, though the really cool and totally unrealistic video above certainly hypes up the concept. In reality, the AR game will probably play a lot like Ingress, with you wandering around the real world trying to find both wild pokemon and other trainers to challenge. Once you find your target, there will be some kind of onscreen battle to tie it all together. A lot of the gameplay elements remain unseen, though it appears that the visuals will be in 3D.
The Pokemon Company is also releasing a special optional wearable to help further augment the experience, called the Pokemon Go Plus. This smart wearable basically alerts you of nearby Pokemon, without the need to take out your phone. A cool idea, but probably only suitable for the most addicted Pokemon trainers out there.
Pokemon Go is slated for release sometime in 2016 as a free game, though there will be some sort of in-app purchase system. It is currently unclear if this title was created as part of the Nintendo/DeNA arrangement, but either way I have to admit I’m curious to see how this one unfolds. Although Ingress had a following, it never took off in a massive way. Can the mainstream-recognized Pokemon franchise help AR gaming take off in a bigger way? Let us know what you think in the comments.