Have you ever dreamt of a world where you could merrily live amongst Pokémons, catch’em, act as their friends, and then go out to fight Gym Battles? Ever since I saw Ash receive his first Pokémon — a Pikachu — I have been fascinated with the pocket monsters, and wanted to follow the journey that he was undertaking. And now it seems that my dream will finally be realized thanks to Niantic Labs and Nintendo!
Today, Niantic Labs and Nintendo have launched an AR-mobile game that allows us — trainers — to explore the real world locations while finding, fighting and capturing Pokémons. The mobile app is now available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, but is only available in select countries. It is now available for Australia and Japan users, but will soon roll out in U.S and other regions.
For those who are unaware of the development and working of the AR-ready mobile game, let’s take an in-depth look at the game.
How the Game Works
The team of developers behind the AR-ready game called ‘Ingress’, have handled the development of Pokémon GO in partnership with Nintendo. The aim of the game is to encourage users to not be couched potato, but move about and explore your beautiful city. The game combines the digital world with the real world and lets you find and capture Pokémons in your backyard or the nearest Museum(which also might be a Pokémon Gym).
In a statement(via VB), John Hanke, Niantic CEO said that,
If you said, ‘What’s the core essence of the game?’ it is that trying to mimic what the world would be like if Pokémon really lived in it. That’s the fundamental mission of the game. They’re out there and you have to discover them and capture them.
Now, talking about the tech that goes into making the game work for you. It simply uses your smartphone’s location to mimic the geography around you. It then uses location-based algorithms to place Pokémons in that region. It then uses your smartphone’s camera and sensors to add depth to the game and make it feel attached to the real world. You can then travel around the world(as mentioned above), catch Pokémons, train them and fight Gym battles.
When you first power up the app, you’re asked to register as a Pokémon trainer and login using your Google account(if you want). You are then greeted by some Professor(not Professor Oak!) who hands over to you your first set of Pokéballs, and sets you free in the AR-world to catch your first Pokémon(I caught a Bulbasaur!!).
The main interface of the game is a map screen, that shows your current location, nearby Pokémon sightings and other pit-stops as and when you pass by them. The game currently hosts only the first generation of 151 Pokémons, but the developer plans to “release” additional generations in the wild pretty soon.
The game now constantly accesses your location using Google Maps, as you walk around your locality searching for more Pokémons to catch(coz you gotta catch’em all). Once you spot a favorable pocket monster, you can sling your Pokéball at them to catch them.But ofcourse, just like the games you’ve been playing for the past 20 years, different Pokémon have different capture rates. So as you see, the gameplay interface is as easy as it comes!
Also if you’re worried that the game will keep your nose burried into your smartphones at all times, then that’s not a problem. Niantic has embedded a haptic feedback feature into the game, which vibrates the phone when it senses a Pokémon nearby or when you reach a desired destination(like a pit-stop).
Additional Features + Accessories
To make the game even more interesting, Nintendo has designed and developed a wearable — Pokémon GO Plus.
This wearable is a simple bluetooth device, with tri-color LEDs that also double as tactile buttons and a vibration motor. You can pair this wearable with your smartphone and enable it to control Pokémon GO game. The device vibrates and flashes the light when you are close to a pit-stop, or a wild Pokémon. You can use the buttons available on the device to claim items at Poké-stops or capture Pokémons, without having to pull-out your smartphone everytime.
While the app is free to download, the game — as anyone would expect — offers in-game purchase options, to expand XP, heal your Pokémon or maybe even buy a stone. Even though the app is currently available in select geographies, Android users can download an APK to try out the game.
Gotta Catch’em All !!