The announcement of Pokémon GO on Thursday for Android and iOS still has Trainers running wild. And with closed beta testing coming later this year, things are beginning to happen rather fast. Niantic Labs, famed developer for the popular augmented reality mobile hit Ingress, is heading Pokémon GO development while working closely with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company.
While Pokémon GO still remains shrouded in mystery, the entire concept for the franchise is a step in a brand-new direction. So different, in fact, that The Pokémon Company is thinking of ways to connect it with the next installment in the main series of Pokémon games. Pokémon GO also has an accessory called the Pokémon GO Plus that allows Trainers to interact with the game.
That out of the way, here’s what a few of our team members had to say about the new mobile project.
Carolanne Plourde: Pokémon GO is basically what I’ve been hoping for ever since training my first Pikachu back in 1997. Even just the idea of having my Pokémon partners with me everywhere I go, and seeing them take life in my environment, though through a lens, fills me with a ton of excitement. And as a once-avid Ingress agent, I could not be happier that Niantic is taking part in its development; their experience in augmented reality, on-the-field action and captivating lore makes me believe in a great collaboration between them and The Pokémon Company.
I would love if there were challenges to accomplish, and as a true collectibles maniac, some mini-games to collect items would make me a happy fan. I am also hoping for all 720 creatures to have their chance to shine, though that would probably require a lot of work from their 3D artists. All in all, I have high hopes for this new way to interact with my Pocket Monsters, and 2016 couldn’t possibly come soon enough!
Derek Viars: Pokémon has always been my favorite Nintendo franchise. Ever since I first had my own electronic toy Pokédex, I’ve dreamed of catching my own team of actual Pokémon.
Even with all the other crazy innovations the series has experienced over its nearly 20-year run, being able to explore and catch Pokémon in our own world on my phone is one of the most exciting prospects yet. I’m also really interested to see how Niantic’s involvement will bring Ingress-like global connectivity to the game.
I do of course have a few reservations. In light of the recent changes made to the mobile port of Pokémon Shuffle, I am somewhat afraid that Pokémon GO could end up lusting after micro-transactions to a similar degree. I also can’t help but wonder how balanced the game will be, considering it isn’t realistic for most players to catch Pokémon outside their immediate area if they don’t or can’t travel a lot.
Despite my concerns, I am still incredibly excited for Pokémon GO. More than likely, you’ll probably find me in a park next year with a Pokémon GO Plus strapped around my wrist, with me yelling “Gotcha!” at a Charizard on my phone.
Bradley Kragen: The announcement of Pokémon GO was unexpected for me, but I don’t know how to feel about this game just yet. I like the idea as it sounds like a novel concept being able to find, catch, and battle Pokémon in the real world when you’re out doing your daily activities. On the other hand, we haven’t seen a whole lot of actual gameplay footage outside of the few seconds at the very end of the trailer, so it is a bit hard to get a clear idea of it.
I’m worried that I won’t be able to get much enjoyment out of the game, because I’m not exactly a person who travels around a whole lot; I’m at home quite a bit. I think I would rather just have the Pokémon game be set in a fantastical world that you can explore without having to go out and about. There’s still a lot we don’t know about the game, so I definitely want to hear more about how this augmented reality concept will work. Pokémon GO will be free-to-play though, so I’ll definitely give it a shot. I mean, what is there to lose?
Kevin McMinn: Call me old-fashioned — perhaps even a pessimist. Sure, we don’t know a ton of information about Pokémon GO, but I’ve already seen enough to understand where the concept is headed. And I can’t say I’m excited or overtaken with amazement. The idea is very simple: Go out into the wild (real-world places) to catch, trade, and battle Pokémon using a special Bluetooth wristband. I get it, and I can see how this might largely appeal to the newer generation of Pokémon Trainers. So to speak.
The game’s announcement trailer (below) shows a huge crowd of people in New York’s Times Square battling Mewtwo, a family huddled down over a rocky ledge preparing to catch Charizard, and a sophisticated women hurling a Poké Ball through a cavern to catch a Caterpie. I couldn’t help but giggle at all that. It all just seemed a bit too silly to me.
It’s very difficult for me to get outside as much as I should and want. My job requires me to be pasted behind a computer screen pretty much every hour of the day. I will give Pokémon GO a fair chance, of course, but this type of game doesn’t fit my style, nor does it fit my lifestyle. I’d still rather play Pokémon the way I’ve been playing it for many years.