Yesterday morning I awoke to a flurry of emails, texts, and Facebook posts from a wide variety of friends, family members, and PR contacts. Yet across every platform and from every source the message was the same: Pokémon are real!
Okay, maybe not real, per se, but certainly coming to the real world in next year’s mobile release Pokémon GO. This augmented reality game appears to use your phone’s camera and GPS capabilities–and, yes, it’s slated to release on both iOS and Android–to let you track down Pokémon in real world locations.
Players will be able to catch, trade, and battle while exploring the world around them with their friends and family. And, while the final everyone-in-town-come-help-me-defeat-Mewtwo scene in the new trailer seems crazy hyperbolic, the earlier shots of a family playing together really got me where I live.
Created via collaboration between The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and Ingress developer Niantic, Pokémon GO promises to offer a really interesting gaming experience.
No, this isn’t the long rumored–and even longer delayed–death knell for Nintendo, who is also manufacturing a tie-in Bluetooth wearable called the Pokémon GO Plus that lets you locate and capture Pocket Monsters even when not looking at your phone. (And, if I’m being honest here, I’m way more likely to wear one of those than a Pip Boy.) Instead, this is another tentative step into the mobile phone marketplace that looks to follow their current modus operandi.
Pokémon GO will be free to download from the App Store and Google Play–meaning, in this instance, free-to-play. There will inevitably be premium for-pay content, likely in the form of more numerous and/or advanced Pokéballs to ease the hassles of capture à la current title Pokémon Shuffle Mobile.
But who am I kidding? If it provides another way for the kids and I to bond over one of our favorite franchises, I am more than willing to give it a go.
The fact that GAME FREAK’s Junichi Masuda, the producer/director of the core Pokémon video game franchise, is contributing certainly assuages some of my fears. And knowing that Niantic itself was founded by Google Earth co-creator John Hankealso gives me additional hope.
I mean, who can forget that great Google Maps Pokémon hunt of 2014?