Like many of Nintendo's other vaunted game franchises, Pokemon has endured in large part by being deliberately slow to change its established classic formula. The main series has maintained it's foundational Japanese RPG format with incremental adjustments over multiple generations, and each new spinoff and animated adaptation largely draws on the rich history of the franchise (with notable offbeat exceptions) rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. But Pokemon Go, a new mobile game developed by Niantic, has had fans buzzing for almost a year with its promise of an entirely new Pokemon experience.
Now, the moment for Pokemon lovers to see what this brave new venture looks like is looming, as Pokemon Go has begun its mobile rollout.
According to Polygon, the game hit the Google Play and iOS app stores late Tuesday evening without a preceding announcement; players from some regions are reporting that they are already able to download and successfully use it. However, the title remains unable to be activated in most territories, including (as of this writing) North America, with still more users reporting that download attempts have returned results of incompatibility with most current devices - though it appears that more regions and devices are being enabled as the rollout continues, including Australia and New Zealand.
Announced in September of 2015 via a live-action trailer that became an immediate viral sensation, Pokemon Go fuses the creature-collecting and battling mechanics of Pokemon with a GPS-enabled "geocaching"-style setup that assigns virtual Pokemon to various geographic locations all over the world and allows players to track them down, view them mapped into real-life through their mobile device cameras, and catch them to trade and battle with other users. Plans are also underway for timed events wherein highly sought-after Pokemon will be tied to specific locations, dates or events. As an example, the original trailer depicted hundreds of users being summoned to Times Square in New York City to battle against ultra-rare Generation 1 Pokemon Mewtwo.
While the experience is analogous to the gameplay of a traditional Pokemon title - which typically also includes towns to explore, tasks to complete, and a nominal storyline - the idea of acting out the collecting a battling elements of the franchise in real life has electrified would-be players since the game was first announced. As soon as the gradual launch began, social media lit up with lucky fans posting the details of their initial play sessions while others eagerly anticipated the game's launch in their own territory.
The exact launch for Pokemon Go was not pre-set with a hard release date, meaning that this release will likely remain a developing story along with the pending release of Pokemon Sun & Moon and the ongoing battle in Hollywood for the highly sought-after rights to the live-action Pokemon movie.
Check back with Screen Rant for further updates on the launch of Pokemon Go.