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Gaming On-The-Go: Augmented Reality Game 'Pokémon GO' Teases Nintendo's Potential In The Mobile Market

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Gaming On-The-Go is a weekly series that explores the mobile gaming industry as well as uncovering current trends, with hands-on guides for the latest smartphone and tablet games.

Get ready gamers, because this Pokémon news is really going to be a big one.

We already know that Nintendo is finally entering the mobile gaming market and is set the develop games "specifically for smart devices" based on its popular characters in a partnership with Japanese mobile gaming company DeNA.

While we wonder what these mobile games will be like, such as if the company will just license its characters, we will still have to wait some time to see what comes out of this collaboration. However, mobile gamers may be excited to learn about the new Pokémon game Nintendo has its hands on that will be available next year for both iOS and Android.

The Pokémon Co. announced a mobile app called Pokémon GO, a game that will have players on the mission to go out and catch 'em all in the real world. A mobile game rooted in reality? That's right, Nintendo is not playing when it comes to making a grand entrance.

Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that combines virtual and real-world gameplay. Players actually get to find and catch Pokémon that are lurking right in their very own cities. Gamers will receive a notification on their smartphone or on a small Bluetooth-connected device called Pokémon GO Plus (via LED lights and vibrations) when a Pokémon character is nearby. Showing how far the player is away from it, they can then hunt it down and add it to their collection.

What more do we need in a game that lets us explore real-world locations to find Jiggypuff, Bulbassaur or even Pikachu hiding behind a rock or hanging by the park? It's like having our virtual fantasies pouring right over into real life.

Instead of whipping out prehistoric Game Boys or even pulling out your Pokémon card collection, trading and battling has never been easier thanks to the fact that everything can be done right from your mobile device. Talk about having the Poké ball in the palm of your hand.

However, to be clear, Pokémon GO is not technically Nintendo's first mobile game. Pokémon GO will be a new franchise created in collaboration by game developer Niantic and publisher the Pokémon Co. Niantic is known for its augmented reality mobile game called Ingress (which has 12 million worldwide downloads), a game that features a sci-fi storyline and uses GPS technology. With that said, I have no doubts the Pokémon game will be a hit.

For those who may not know, Nintendo owns 33 percent of the Pokémon Co., so you could almost say this is Nintendo's first mobile game. Instead, Nintendo is expected to announce its own mobile game later this year. However, even though Nintendo technically isn't making the augmented reality mobile game, the company is still very much involved in the project (case in point being that it's making that Bluetooth pocket device to go along with the game). The late Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was involved in the game's creation two years ago, and it was Iwata himself who announced that the company will release five mobile games with DeNA.

Nintendo has stayed away from the mobile gaming market as far as apps are concerned, leaving us all to wonder, What the hell are they thinking? Clearly, the way people play games is changing, but adding a social and virtual game that is rooted in reality and features the big franchise (which has sold over 270 million games) is a huge leap in the right direction.

Photo: Sadie Hernandez | Flickr

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