The last time you walked around in a park to capture Pokemon on your phone was probably a long time ago. If you’re like most of the estimated 28 million people that started playing Pokemon Go at launch in July, you stopped playing sometime in November or December of last year. You got busy during the holiday season and the novelty factor of finger-swiping pokeballs at bouncing Pidgeys wore off at that point. Niantic has periodically held special themed events like the Easter “Eggstravaganza” that increased the drop rate for eggs, but the trickle of updates hasn’t really offered anything to entice anyone but hardcore current players.
Pokemon Go’s upcoming summer update is going to add true cooperative play. Raid Battles are time-limited boss battles that can pop up at gyms. When one appears, up to a dozen players can cooperatively attack the monster to take it down. If they succeed, everyone in the group gets a chance to capture that monster along with being rewarded with some high-level loot. Participating in these cooperative events will require Raid Passes, which everyone can get once per day from gyms. Players will even be allowed to generate private lobby codes so they can fight with their buddies instead of random folks. Niantic says the raids are designed to bring back that feeling of discovery and cooperation that everyone had in the first weeks of the game.
Although there’s no set date for the public release of the update, high-level community members are testing it already.
That’s all of 1996’s Pokemon Red recreated in Minecraft. That’s not just the environments, or the characters, frozen in Minecraft like a blocky Madame Tussaud’s. As impressive as that would be, this is the full original Gameboy game faithfully (some would say obsessively) programmed into Minecraft with no mods used. That’s 357,000 command blocks stamped out over 21 months for Reddit user MrSquishy to make his mark in history. You can grab the map yourself to try out in Minecraft. The creator warns people that his Pokemon recreation requires a bit more resources than the normal Minecraft map, and there may be some bugs, although some are intentionally recreating glitches from the original handheld game.
You won’t be catching anything at the 2016 Pokemon World Championships in San Francisco unless you’re there with permission to do so. Despite being open to the public in previous years, the 2016 gathering will be limited to invitees and guests. The Pokemon Company announced the new restrictions today, noting that underage attendees will be guaranteed only one guest badge for their family, friend, or guardian. Remaining guest badges will be issued to tournament entrants on a first-come-first-serve basis while supplies last. With only days until the convention, families of attendees are hurriedly revising their plans.
While the limited venue space was cited as a reason for the enhanced security, the 2015 Pokemon World Championship in Boston was marred by two men who brought firearms to the event and threatened other players. The men were convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for unlawful possession. While this incident is doubtless a partial influence on the new restrictions, the other likely contributor is the explosive popularity of Pokemon GO. The mobile game from Niantic has been a sensation at all recent crowd events including the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
The 2016 Pokemon World Championships will be held August 19th through the 21st at the Marriot Marquis Hotel in San Francisco.
No one not involved with the development of the game can really say how much money free-to-play Pokemon Go is bringing in for Nintendo, but it’s obvious that the game is a success in terms of capturing (pun intended) a big audience. Investor analysts estimate the game is nabbing $3 million to $5 million a day, and the prospects for sustained revenue are good enough to make Nintendo’s stock jump over 25 points.
The really stunning thing about Pokemon Go is how quickly it’s seeped into the public consciousness. Like a digital pocket monster superimposed on a camera image, Pokemon Go is already layering itself onto our reality. From countless memes on Twitter and Facebook, to real robberies being committed on Pokemon hunters, the game is everywhere. Because of the way the game tends to gather people physically near real-life landmarks, avid Pokemon Go players are winding up in sometimes humorous, and sometimes scary places. Perfect fodder for social media! After all, what’s funnier than nerds mingling with Hell’s Angels?
Pokmon is turning twenty. To celebrate two decades of monster battling and capturing, The Pokemon Company is airing the above TV advertisement during Super Bowl 50. It’s a slick bit of marketing that feels completely worthy of standing next to the latest Nike or Gatorade commercials. The 20th anniversary site is also pretty good at capturing the dramatic sportiness of it all. “Train on” goes well with “Gotta catch’em all!”
I’m pretty enamored by Pokemon Y. Don’t get me wrong, this is the same basic Pokemon game we’ve been playing for fifteen years now. You get a starter Pokemon and then use that starter to amass a collection of magical creatures. Along the way you can take down gym leaders, fight the enemy team of the day, breed some new Pokemon, explore caves, swim in oceans, hunt legendary beasts and engage in dozens and dozens of trainer battles. The details of those actions may change, but the basics have stayed the same, even through Pokemon Y.
I wouldn’t classify myself as the type of person who feels graphics make or break games, but one of the best things about Pokemon X/Y is how the upgraded visuals and changes to visual style make the game feel so much more alive. Don’t get me wrong, past Pokemon games always had their own cute touches, but for all of those touches, lately they were still DS games shoved on to the 3DS’s screen. There’s only so much you can work with there, even with the expanded real estate of the 3DS XL.
The early sections of past Pokemon games all followed a similar path. You met a professor of Pokemonology, he gave you a starter and then tasked you with going out in the world to fill the Pokedex. Once you found a nice patch of tall grass you would start hunting beasts. You’d find a rat or gopher or prairie dog looking thing and capture it. You’d find a caterpillar and capture it. Usually a pigeon of some sort would come along for the ride. Eventually you would stumble across some fighting type and so it would go until your first team was fielded. Your starter would have an elemental attack but the rest of your misfit crew of vermin would feature a commonplace collection of boring, normal moves. Lots of leers, tackles, scratches and growls. Hardly the stuff of a championship team.
I hadn’t planned on playing Pokemon Y. I started Pokemon Black with gusto but only got about about 13 hours into it before the sameness got to me. I was smart enough to rent Pokemon Black 2 and putter around with it before realizing that the same thing that I didn’t like about Black was also in play here. Along the way to the release of X and Y, I read about small changes made to the formula to streamline things. Nothing that would send the series off into a radical new direction but some things to modernize a game that has been in desperate need of modernization for some time. Take running. In Pokemon Y you can run from the outset, no special shoes require. Also, now your Pokemon get experience from capturing other Pokemon, so no more epic battles that end in nothing but a a new creature you probably won’t use due to how under-leveled it is. As exciting as these things sound, though, what finally pushed me over the edge was the experience share.