Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have teamed up with mobile developer Niantic, Inc. to bring us a new way to catch ‘em all in 2016. Best known for its augmented reality MMORPG Ingress, Niantic has made a name for itself by melding a virtual game world with location-based smartphone gameplay. Applying this concept to the world of Pokémon isn’t much of a stretch, and given Nintendo’s increasing interest in the world of mobile games, the project almost starts to shape itself.
A high-concept, low-content trailer gives us a rough idea of what playing Pokémon Go might be like. Android and IOS smartphones will act as scouting devices, alerting and guiding players to nearby Pokémon in the world around them. Heading to work? You might want to see if there’s any Pikachu on your way. Sightseeing on a vacation? There could be a Caterpie in that landmark. Hiking with the kids? Maybe there’s a Charizard over the next hill.
For the most diehard Pokémon fans there will also be Pokémon Go Plus. This is a wristband with a Pokéball emblem on it that will let you know when there’s a wild Pokémon near you in the real world. There’s been no official pricing given for the accessory yet.
After tracking down, battling, and capturing your local Pokémon, there will be plenty that you can do with them. We see trading, ambushes, battles, and even team versus team rumbles. The trailer concludes with hundreds of players flocking to Times Square, phones in hand, to collectively take on Mewtwo.
Pokémon Go may or may not be the next big thing in the world of Pokémon, but it’s certainly something different. Different enough that I don’t think fans of the core games need to worry too much about the direction of the franchise. 2016 marks Pokémon’s 20th anniversary, and with Pokkén Tournament and now Pokémon Go both on the release calendar, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company seem keen on making it a year to remember. Here’s hoping they have something big planned for the series proper, too.
Aspiring trainers can download Pokémon Go for IOS and Android sometime in 2016. The game will be free to download, and include in-game transactions. Check out the trailer below.