If you're young enough for Pokemon to have a stranglehold on your childhood, you no doubt dreamed of a world where the rules of Nintendo's RPG also applied to real life—it's the only possible scenario where the existence of 10-year-old dropout drifters is considered part of the status quo.
Nearly 20 years after the hugely successful RPG launched in Japan, The Pokemon Company is finally making these fantasies a reality with Pokemon Go, an augmented reality mobile game developed by Niantic. While not much is known about Go outside of its basic premise, the trailer implies this new creation will likely give you a reason to live and maybe, just maybe, save your troubled family.
Pokemon Go has been in development for a few years, and designed with the intent to encourage kids to get out and explore their surroundings, along with their parents, friends, and siblings. Today's announcement also brought news of a watch peripheral to be used alongside the game, which will rumble and flash when Pokemon draw near—a nice solution to the dangers of wandering around outside with your eyes affixed to a tiny screen. And, at the event, Pokemon designer Junichi Masuda implied Go won't just be a stand-alone product; future installments may very well interact with this spin-off.
Pokemon has taken baby steps towards AR, what with the pedometer packed into 2010s HeartGold and SoulSilver, along with adding the monsters to Google Maps as part of an April Fools' prank, but Go represents a major leap into a formerly unexplored format for the franchise. While the trailer certainly looks impressive—even if it's all faked—you still have to wonder how well this will work in the wide-open spaces of America compared to the fairly dense cities of Japan, where Go was conceived. There's also safety issues to worry about, like the possibility of kids wandering into traffic, or getting their expensive smartphones stolen while distracted by fictional monsters. It's one of those cases where great ideas and impressive technology have to overcome practical and boring problems, so let's hope they do.
Whatever the case, the existence of Pokemon Go finally gives me a legitimate excuse to post this image, and for that, we should all be thankful.