Video game maker Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are taking their lovable pocket monsters franchise into the real world and their using Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating system to do it. This week the two announced Pokémon Go, a version of the long-running role-playing game franchise that embraces smartphones and real-world location information.
Pokémon Go isn’t a typical game in the franchise to say the least, as a video reveals. It’s also not a simple game that users install on their smartphone and play sitting down or inline. Instead, Pokémon Go mixes the real world with the fictionalized Pokémon universe, setting players up so that they can experience what it would be like to live in a world actually populated by Pokémon and Pokémon trainers.
Once loaded on to the user’s iPhone, Pokémon Go uses their location information to virtually add the tiny monsters to their surroundings. It’s up to Pokémon Go players whether they’d like to capture the digital creatures and add them to their collection. Captured creatures can be battled with other Pokémon Go for iPhone and Android players. Players can also trade the creatures that they collect, just like in other versions of the game. As players are walking around in the real world they’ll be able to find other Pokémon trainers and battle them spontaneously.
The Pokémon Company says that Pokémon Go for iPhone and Android will be free to download, but have in-app purchases for items. This week’s post doesn’t reveal what items will have charges in the game, but it’s not hard to imagine there being charges for in-game healing potions and Poke’balls. In other versions of the Poke’balls are used to capture and house different kinds of Pokémon.
A video posted along with written information on Pokémon Go better showcases what iPhone and Android owners can expect. People in the video have the Pokémon Go app already loaded on their phone. While walking, one user notices a wild Pokémon in their neighborhood park and decides to try and capture it.
All told, Pokémon Go seems like a very carefully measured attempt to bring the world of Pokémon to life using ideas from augmented reality games. Theoretically, an augmented reality version of Pokémon could be even more fun than the original. Instead of diving into a game world, the game world is all around the player, weaving itself into their day seamlessly. Problem is, augmented reality games rely on sensors that can kill battery life or seem too obtrusive when completing every day tasks. To that end Pokémon Go has a sensor of its own, called the Pokémon Go Plus.
The Pokémon Go Plus can be worn like a bracelet or simply placed in a pocket. It uses Bluetooth technology to connect to the iPhone and Android devices. When users are near a Pokémon the accessory lights up and vibrates, essentially telling the player that they should look at their phone to see what they are near. A built-in button on the device itself allows users to capture Pokémon, eliminating the need to pull out a smartphone entirely. Pokémon Go for iPhone and Android will be free, but it’s very likely the Pokémon Go Plus accessory won’t be. Those involved with the game have only confirmed that the accessory is being made by Nintendo; they haven’t said anything about pricing.
All told, Pokémon Go for iPhone and Android is seems like a pretty brilliant way to mix the advantages of being a smartphone game with the role-playing and competitive allure of Pokémon. Users have waited for a Pokémon game to arrive on the iPhone and devices running Android devices ever since Nintendo announced earlier this year that it’d team up with DeNA to bring many of its characters and franchises to smartphones and tablets in ways that make sense. With a handheld console version to protect, successfully brining Pokémon to the iPhone and more requires that Nintendo balances the experience of its older games with new ideas for new platforms.
Nintendo nor the Pokémon Company have confirmed a Windows version of Pokémon Go.