Unless you've been under a very large rock somewhere you've probably by now heard about Pokemon GO, the upcoming augmented reality Pokémon game designed for iOS and Android (sorry Windows phone users...).
When Nintendo first announced their intention to get into mobile gaming the suspicion was that they would be going along the emulator route. You can already play classic Nintendo games the likes of Pokémon, Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda on phones and computer via fan-made emulators, so cashing in on this market seemed like a wise choice. What they went for was something a little unexpected, but very well received by the fandom, and that was Pokémon GO.
When the announcement trailer (above) went live Pokémon fans both young and old collectively lost their minds. I love that they show people of various ages and businessmen in suits and ties playing the game as well alongside younger children; Pokémon has this adorable timelessness about it to which it owes it's lasting appeal.
Pokémon GO, which is expected to release sometime next year uses location-based markers to allow users to hunt, catch and train virtual Pokémon in real-life surroundings and locations. The sheer scope of this concept highlights the incredible amount of work being put into the app development and it's sure to be a crowning glory in the Pokémon series, if they can pull it off.
Nintendo isn't making the game itself however, that weighty responsibility is being passed to augmented reality developers and Google start-up Niantic. Niantic is the studio responsible for the well received AR location based MMORPG Ingress, so there's a precedent for their good work in that field, a sentiment that seems to be shared by The Pokémon Company President and CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara:
"Pokémon's strategic investment in Niantic paves the way for a social mobile experience the world has never seen before. The Pokémon Company is committed to partnering with companies like Niantic that share the same spirit of community and innovation."
Will Pokémon GO Connect To Pokémon Z?
Whilst Niantic are developing, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are still heavily involved as well as Pokémon game director Junichi Masuda according to a statement from The Pokémon Company themselves:
"[Masuda] is hard at work ensuring that the fun of Pokémon makes its way into this new project and is also looking to come up with new kinds of gameplay while thinking of ways to connect this project with the main series of Pokémon video games."
So it looks like Masuda intends to draw a link between Pokémon GO and the rest of the popular video game franchise. An odd choice, one has to wonder how they'll manage this. Perhaps they'll find a way to link real life locations to the fictional in-game regions, those of Kanto, Johto, Hoenn and Sinnoh. Maybe you'll be able to trade back and forth between the two? Given that we're still waiting for concrete news of the highly anticipated Pokemon Z it could be that there's going to be a connection there, which would explain why we're still being kept in the dark regarding the next iteration in the main franchise.
However, at the moment it's looking like Pokémon GO will launch with just the original first-gen Pokémon, so good news for 90's kids but perhaps bad news for those seeking a Pokémon Z connection. It will also coincide with the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Pokemon Green and Red next year so it's likely that, if the game is a hit, they'll update it later to include more generations or perhaps have them available as in-app purchases or micro-transactions.
If they do manage to find a connection between Pokémon GO and Pokémon Z this could go on to be a massive success for Nintendo, both critically and commercially. Cause let's be honest, who wouldn't want to go hunting in their backyard for a Zygarde?