At their E3 2016 Livestream, Nintendo showed off new gameplay for Pokémon GO and announced that it will be releasing towards the end of July. The Pokémon GO Plus accessory, which can be a clip or a bracelet, will also release in July for $34.99. Pokémon GO is Nintendo’s free-to-play AR mobile game where players can find and catch Pokémon in the real world through their phone.
“Pokémon GO really got its start back in 2013 when we did an April Fools’ project with Google, the Pokémon Challenge,” said developer Tatsuo Nomura. For anyone who remembers, this references when Pokémon appeared in Google Maps to be found and collected. The Pokémon Challenge brought together Tsunekazu Ishihara from The Pokémon Company, Junichi Masuda from Game Freak (the development team behind Pokémon) and Nomura, who was working at Google Maps at the time and went on to join Niantic, the studio behind Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO is still in beta testing and there are already “30 Pokéballs thrown every second,” Nomura said.
When Pokémon GO releases it will begin with only first-generation Pokémon from Kanto, and updates will roll out that will gradually add in the later-generation Pokémon. Pokémon GO will use the location information in your phone to map the Pokémon to locations that make sense for their habitats. For example, you will find more water type Pokémon near bodies of water, whereas you will find more grass type Pokémon near parks. If you aim to “catch ‘em all,” you will have to travel beyond just the neighborhood where you live.
In Pokémon GO, when you encounter a Pokémon, it will have two concentric circles around it and the goal is to aim your Pokéball so that it lands within the circles at the time when the inner one is smallest.
Nintendo also discussed the Pokémon GO Plus accessory. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and allows you to continue playing without staring at your phone. “At Niantic, our core mission is ‘Adventures on foot,’ so we want people to go outside to discover things, to look around, not look at your phone,” Nomura said. “So that’s been our challenge and focus, and I think Pokémon GO Plus gives us one answer for that.”
Pokémon GO Plus allows you to play through the color of the light and the button on it. When a Pokémon is nearby, it will flash green and vibrate. At that point, you can press the button to throw out a Pokéball. At that point, it will either flash rainbow, meaning you were successful, or flash red, meaning the Pokémon got away.
We’re looking forward to playing around with Pokémon GO when it releases next month. It might just encourage us to take a walk or two during the day and get away from our computers.