PokeMMOn Go! Evolution or Primal Reversion?

GameFreak will never make a Pokemon MMO.

I know, that will come as a shock, and will sound like blasphemy to many of my fellow Trainers.

But here’s the deal: GameFreak has made it abundantly clear that Pokemon is a handheld game. It’s the sort you pick up, wander around town, and play with friends on the go.

The latest incarnations of the series (X/Y, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire) had taken advantage of this with a series of silly minigames (Pokemon Amie, ugh) that you can use to interact with another Trainer’s Pokemon.

Which is what makes Pokemon Go! so goddamned exciting.

Developed in part by Niantic, the company behind the awesome mobile game Ingress. So, we can infer a lot of how the game will be in execution. Let’s break down the trailer:

What we see:

A guy checking his phone to see that a wild Pikachu is nearby:

This will most likely work similar to Ingress, where you see an isometric map of the current area, with little cartoony sprites representing the various Pokemon. Also like Ingress, you will probably be able to tap the nearby Pokemon, and the game’s GPS will direct you to them.

We also get a glimpse of the game’s optional wearable. A little, Pokeball shaped gizmo. According to The Verge, this will glow and vibrate when you walk near a location that corresponds with the game’s virtual world. Essentially, Nintendo was concerned (rightly so), that a game similar to Ingress would require too much eye-to-screen time, which is a bit of a hindrance to walking. Not that this stops anyone, but I’m glad that they’re addressing a very real problem with Ingress in a practical way.

Also, I’m not the biggest fan of wearables, and the thing looks a bit clunky (why not just go with a standard circular Pokeball shape? Why the awkward teardrop?), so we’ll just have to wait and see how much it enhances the experience.

We then see the various people in the trailer approaching nearby Pokemon and engaging them in what appears to be the Ash Ketchum method of Poke-wrangling (catch it by surprise by throwing stuff at it, and try to catch it before it notices), versus the way the rest of the games actually work (weaken a Pokemon with your own, and attempt to catch it before it faints).

Yeah, good luck trying to catch that healthy Level 36 Charizard with a measly Great Ball, guy.

You’ll be able to trade based on proximity (most likely via bluetooth connection) with nearby trainers. Awesome.

Again, similar to Ingress, when you’re near another trainer, you can choose to attack them. I imagine the battles will be turn-based similar to the games. Heck, I HOPE it’s more like that, and less like Ingress’ tower-defense method of battle.

Also, I hope you actually have some measure of control over your battling companions, as just setting them against another and waiting for an RNG outcome.

And this makes it look even more similar to Ingress, and less like an actual, all out brawl. With teams attacking and defending each other’s “forts,” to gain influence on the map.

I wonder if the game will also borrow the “Field” mechanic from Ingress?

This looks pretty cool. Map-based challenges and battles. I imagine the game will notify you when a major event is happening nearby, and you and the rest of the Trainers in your team will band together to oust a specific foe within a time-limit. Again, whether this is similar to actual pokemon battling in the handheld universe, or if it’s similar to the damage-sponge HP whittling of Ingress remains to be seen. I’m really, really hoping it isn’t the latter.

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Also, I want to know who actually caught Mewtwo here. Was it everyone? Or was it the last person to deal damage to it? I’m curious as to how this will work.

Another thing mentioned in the press conference in Tokyo was that Pokemon Go! will have microtransactions. Honestly, for a mobile game, that’s to be expected. It could be that every action will expel “energy” like in Ingress, and you’ll need to recover it based on time/collectables (like Ingress), and the in-game store will allow you to replenish your supplies of Pokeballs, energy, and other power-ups.

Will there be an in-game currency? Will your Pokemon be leveled up based on battles? Breeding? Perfect IVs? Will the on-map Pokemon be randomly generated or terrain-based? These and other questions will hopefully be addressed prior to the game’s release sometime in 2016.