When Nintendo announced they’d be working on mobile games, no one could’ve expected them to make something like this. Just a few hours ago, Nintendo unveiled to the world a new game for smartphones called Pokemon Go. What exactly is Pokemon Go? Pay attention because whether you’re a Pokemon fan or not, you should be excited for the incredible possibilities this announcement brings.
Niantic Labs, an independent developer, partnered with Nintendo and The Pokemon Company to create something that’s far beyond what any of us could have anticipated. If you’re reading this, you probably already know what Pokemon is, and after watching that announcement video, your imagination is probably already excited at the idea of Pokemon Go. In essence, this a is a very simple concept. Take the concept of Pokemon (capturing, trading, battling) and apply those ideas into the real world using your smart phone’s camera and AR technology. Now you have the very same formula that motivated you to pull out your Game Boy every morning to make just a little more progress in Pokemon Blue, that pushed you to take your DS to your friends to trade or show off your shines, to go out of your way and explore for hours in order to catch Mewtwo, into the real world. Now, here’s where the fun begins when you think about what this means.
Pokemon Go showed a lot of promise in its reveal trailer. A lot of promise that I don’t believe Nintendo and Niantic Labs would tease without being able to deliver. And frankly, these aren’t ideas that are difficult to execute; the ingredients for this were always there once mobile games took off. In order to catch Pokemon like you did in the games, you’ll have to step out of your bedroom and explore your communities a little bit. Maybe Caterpies are always easily found right in your front porch, but if you wanna catch a Litleo, you’ll have to explore a little further away. If you really want a chance at catching a Hoothoot, you’ll probably have to do some exploring around your town after sunset, so why not check around with your iPhone while you walk the dog or go for a nightly run? Imagine if certain Pokemon are only available in certain cities, or certain countries? Good thing trading is a big part of Pokemon. Sure, there may not be a way to catch a Heracross in the United States, but someone from Scotland could be more than happy to trade your theirs for something you might have. Like I said, the possibilities are endless.
I haven’t even taken into account the chance of including shiny Pokemon in the real world. How amazing would it be if on your way to school or work, you just happen to spot a shiny Ralts, and you catch it! Then there are the legendary Pokemon events that were teased in the video, in which a rare opportunity appeared to an entire city to go to a certain location and catch a Mewtwo. It appeared that the more trainers participate and work together, the better chances you have of catching that ultra rare legendary.
This natural evolution of the franchise is one that brings us one step closer to that fantasy of having Pokemon in our real world. The same focus on exploration and social interaction that Pokemon stood for since the beginning is being taken a huge leap further and brought to reality. In fact, if Game Freak had access to this type of technology in 1996, this is probably what they would’ve wanted to do. If you’re a Pokemon fan, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be losing your mind over this and if you’re not, you are quite possibly about to find out what the big deal is. If the mobile gaming industry needed one huge game-changer for all gamers to take it seriously, this might be it. It’s also worth noting that the late Satoru Iwata had a lot to do with the creation of this game, and that alone is reason enough to be hopeful for this. It was one of Iwata’s final amazing ideas being put in motion so in a sense, this trailer is a dedication to him.
Pokemon Go is scheduled to launch next year on iOS and Android devices.