Nearly 20 years ago, I was handed a GameBoy alongside my original copy of Pokémon Red and went on my first Pokémon journey. I picked Charmander as my first starter, explored the Kanto region and battled my way up the ladder until I became a champion – but it didn’t stop there. Like many other trainers around the world, I continued to spend my years learning about the world of Pokémon and hoping that technology might bring us closer to the reality of going on a real Pokémon journey ourselves.
Last year that wish came true for trainers around the world during the unveiling of Pokémon GO, a mobile game for Apple and Android devices that turns the world around you into a Pokémon adventure.
Originally announced in September 2015, Pokémon GO was set to bring mobile location technology and augmented reality to the forefront of the Pokémon experience, encouraging users to go out and explore the world with their smartphones in order to build their own collection of Pokémon. Essentially, the company was promising us our own Pokémon journey – something fans have been waiting for since the franchise first launched 20 years ago.
As expected with the mobile gaming platform, skepticism started to run a little high as months went by and the details behind Pokémon GO remained under wraps. But thanks to a demo leak from SXSW, developer Niantic has opened up about some of the details surrounding the game.
In Pokémon GO players will be exploring their surroundings with their Apple or Android device in order to find and catch wild Pokémon to add to their collection. While walking around your phone will vibrate to indicate that there is a wild Pokémon nearby. After locating the Pokémon through your phone’s screen, you’ll then be able to catch them by throwing different Poke Balls which can be obtained at a PokéStop. These stores are going to be located at interesting places such as public art galleries, historical buildings and monuments – thus encouraging exploration by those playing the game.
You’ll also be able to collect eggs at PokéStops which have the potential to reveal a new Pokémon for your collection. Just like in the games, these eggs will hatch after a specific number of steps is reached.
Different types of wild Pokémon will only be found in their native habitats too – meaning that if you’re interested in catching a Water-type Pokémon? Odds are you’re going to have to plan a trip to a lake, river or ocean to find one. If you catch the same Pokémon multiple times, there’s a chance that one of them will evolve as well, which always ensures there’s a reward for going on a journey to catch new Pokémon for your collection.
While traditional battles have yet to be confirmed, Niantic has discussed a system similar to Ingress which encourages you to join one of three teams in order to compete over ownership and prestige of Gyms. You’ll be doing this by placing your Pokémon in friendly Gyms or by challenging other players in opposing teams Gyms – which are also found at real world locations like PokéStops.
Niantic has also briefly discussed a progression system for the game, which will allow you to level up as a trainer in order to unlock new Pokémon and better equipment.
Overall, Pokémon GO is shaping up to be an interesting experience for everyone involved: especially prospective players. It’s refreshing to see the development team integrating all of the concepts that make Pokémon unique such as different types of Pokémon available in different areas, trading and battling – although it looks like there’s still plenty of work for the team to do. Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see how the early testing phase of the game goes in Japan in the coming months.
Pokémon GO is currently scheduled to release at some point in 2016.