Having started as an April Fools’ Day joke at Google Maps, Pokemon Go is almost here. During a developer Q&A session at Nintendo Treehouse Live Day 2, it was revealed that the Pokemon Go Plus physical add-on will release at the end of July for $34.99. They also confirmed that this means the game itself needs to be delivered shortly prior to this.
The Game Itself
Niantic’s goal with Pokemon Go is to be “more than just a game, but to bring people outside” and “explore the areas around them and meet and interact with people around them.”
To celebrate the Pokemon franchise’s 20th anniversary, Pokemon Go will start with the Kanto region Pokemon – the Pokemon we first caught in Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green, but will eventually add more Pokemon from the newer regions.
The main goal of the game is to get players going outside and exploring new areas, and catching Pokemon. The new, up-beat music in the game is designed to encourage faster walking while playing – which is supposed to be more helpful.
Niantic aims to stay as faithful as possible to each Pokemon’s natures and behaviors. This means some Pokemon may be harder to catch. Abra, for example, will teleport away if the player makes it too nervous.
“[We want to] encourage looking around, not looking at your phone.”
Pokemon can level up and evolve by giving them Pokemon Candy – in-game items that players receive upon successfully catching Pokemon and completing in-game events.
Catching Pokemon is a matter of finding Pokemon in the right places and timing Pokeball through appropriately. Players can control the Pokeball’s timing, direction, and the strength of the throw on their phone.
Eventually, the game may connect with the 3DS core Pokemon games, but that is a future development. Nintendo wants to get people in and enjoying the game first, then worry about adding new features.
Full group events such as the Times Square Mewtwo battle seen in the trailer and group gym battles will come in the future as well.
Trading functionality will also not ship on launch.
Pokemon Go Plus
The physical add-on for Pokemon Go, the Pokemon Go Plus was revealed and detailed during the show.
This is a physical Bluetooth device to interact with the game. The goal with this is to “allow you to play the game without looking at your smartphone.” This falls in line with Niantic’s philosophy of wanting the game to encourage having fun outside and exploring – which players can’t do if they’re glued to their phone the entire time.
This device can also attach to a wristband, for players to wear while they explore. It will vibrate and light up green when a Pokemon is nearby. Players can then press the button to throw a Pokeball at the Pokemon. If the catch is successful, it will flash rainbow. If the catch was unsuccessful, it will light up red.
This is great as it allows players to naturally enjoy their run, hike, camping trip, etc. without having to constantly check their phone for Pokemon.
The Pokemon Go Plus can be purchased online via a button within the app, or in select retail stores. They hope to launch the accessory at the end of July 2016 for $39.99 USD.