By Leif Conti-Groome / June 15th, 2016
If you thought that the 3DS was going to hog all the spotlight with Sun and Moon, Nintendo had other plans with its Pokémon Go presentation this morning. Miyamoto, developer Niantic, and GameFreak showed off a few of the title’s features while also answering questions from guest field testers. The mobile game has been in beta for weeks now and surprisingly has been getting new features over time. The large creative team dropped some facts and hints that might make this app a killer one.
Pokémon Go started as an April Fool’s Day gag through Google Maps and then grew into the the phone pointing experience we know today. The game is meant to get users to walk around outside with their mobile devices looking for various Pokémon. Different species will appear in different areas to try and map the game world to the real world: for example water type like Horsea will appear by lakes and ponds. Only the Kanto Pokémon are available at the moment with the other generations being added in increments.
Once you spot your desired pal, you sort of play a mini-game in order to catch it. You can spin the virtual pokéball on your screen and it apparently affects your catch rate. But the real deciding factor is timing your throw with a constantly growing and shrinking circle. That circle is in another circle and if you throw the ball when the two circles are together you’re almost guaranteed a catch. Once you have a Pokémon, you can name it and keep it in your portable roster. Each catch will also give you candies that you can use to level up and evolve your stable of pocket monsters. It seems like you need to catch the same Pokémon to get those types of candies (Abra gives Abra candies, for instance), but this wasn’t that clear during the presentation.
While walking around looking for Pokémon sounds great, the fact that your eyes will be glued to your phone might not be the safest set up. Nintendo has decided to address this by creating the Pokémon Go Plus peripheral. The device is small and reminds me of the Pokéwalker from HeartGold/SoulSilver. It allows the user to know when a wild Pokémon appears without looking at their phone. The device will flash and vibrate to indicate when there’s a potential catch around. You press the button on the centre of the gizmo and it throw off a ball. You will get a flash of rainbow colors if you net your catch; red flashes await if the Pokémon escapes. Miyamoto said the Pokémon Go Plus should be out at the end of July and retail for $34.99 USD.
New and rumored features were teased, but not confirmed. With Sun and Moon coming out within the year, GameFreak said that there will be some connectivity between the two when asked. They gave another vague answer about eventually implementing trading caught Pokémon to another question. Niantic said they wanted to bring out the core experience of the games and then add new features after players had gotten use to the mechanics. The connectivity goals of the title were also highlighted with Miyamoto saying that users could share Pokémon with family members who had the same account for the app over various devices.
Pokémon Go looks like it’s shaping up to be a fun way to go for interactive walks and to try and catch-em-all. With the poké ball mini game and additional features planned it seems like this app might evolve into a deeper experience but we’ll have to wait until it’s available before we can know for sure. There’s still no release date for the android and iOS app but it should be around the same time the Go Plus comes out; so hopefully everything will come out by end of July at the latest.
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