The idea of Pokémon GO originally started with an April Fools Day joke that was run on Google Maps in 2013 where users could search different parts of the world on Google Maps to find up to 200 different Pokémon. This idea was brought right over to Pokémon GO, except instead of sitting in front of your computer scouring digital maps, you are encouraged to go outside and search for Pokémon in the wild via your phone’s location data.
Some of the guests from Niantic and Nintendo showed off data from their beta field testing, including one of showing off their dog facing off against a Nidorino and Growlithe while out for a walk, or running into a Machop during day 1 of Nintendo’s Treehouse presentation at E3.
As a way of celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary this year, the only Pokémon that will be available when Pokémon GO launches will be the original 151 from the Kanto region. They are nostalgic for older players and fresh and new for younger players who may have started with more recent games, so it should appease all audiences.
Particular characteristics of certain Pokémon are being brought over into GO as well, such as finding Rattatas in tall grass or Abras trying to teleport away quickly.
When trying to catch Pokémon it is up to the player to control the throw of the Pokéball. Instead of just pressing A like in the handheld core games, you can control the strength of the throw, where you aim it, the spin, and when to throw it. When aiming the Pokéball there will be a pulsing yellow circle around the Pokémon. The smaller the yellow circle is, the greater the chance to catch them successfully.
You can also choose whether to power up your Pokémon or evolve them by using Candy Points (CP). The power-up function is new for the format; usually you’d need to grind your Pokémon to make them stronger, but that takes too much time for a mobile game, hence the new function. You obtain CP by catching Pokémon. If you have caught 25 Squirtles, you’ll have 25 Squirtle Candies. Each candy is exclusive to individual creatures, so you cannot use Squirtle Candy to level up a Charmander.
The music in Pokémon GO is intentionally high-pace with a higher tempo than normal, because according to their research the fast-paced music will encourage players to move faster to new areas, thus allowing them to find new Pokémon. The game’s entire emphasis is on catching as many as you can, so more walking is part of that goal.
The Pokémon GO Plus accessory, which was first shown off last year when the game was announced, will let the trailer know what’s happening without having to keep theirs eyes glued to their phones constantly. It can connect to Android and iPhone devices via bluetooth, and will glow green and vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby. From there you can press the button on the accessory to throw a Pokéball; if you successfully catch the Pokémon the light will flash rainbow colors, while a failed attempt yields a red light. The GO Plus can also connect to other peoples’ smartphones, though in what capacity was not delved into.
When GO releases the developers want people to focus on playing it, so there will be no connections between it and the main games.
Trading has always been a large part of the Pokémon games, and that function will be coming to Pokémon GO as well. The feature won’t be available right away at launch, but it will be coming in the future. For now the player just needs to get out there and catch their own Pokémon. Other new features and functionality will come later on to keep fans interested and coming back, including special events.
As teased in the original reveal trailer, groups of trainers in the real world can take on gyms together. This feature is already available in the play-test version, but even bigger events will come in the future.
Shigeru Miyamoto accidentally let slip the release window of late July for the final game, and they followed that announcement up with a price point of $34.99 for the Pokémon GO Plus accessory. It will be available in select retailers.
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