This weekend, Pokémon made a huge comeback. Released on Thursday, July 11th, the Pokémon Go app quickly became the hottest new game. The Nintendo-owned franchise, which caused a craze in the late 1990s, is back with this “augmented reality” game (meaning technology is used to enhance the world around you). It is available for free download on Android and iOS through the app store.
There are two reasons for Pokémon Go’s popularity; 1.) it is free, and 2.) Pokémon characters are finally real and are inhabiting our world (the dream of any 90s kid!). The game uses your phone’s GPS and clock to determine where and when you exist in the game, and then makes Pokémon “appear” around you in the real-world so that you can catch them. Depending on the time-of-day and your real-world location, different Pokémon will appear. For example, if you are near a lake, ocean, or other body of water, then you will see water-type Pokémon. If you are near a park or field, then more grass- and bug-type Pokemon will appear. Thus, in order to catch all of the Pokémon, you will have to travel far and wide and during different times of the day.
The premise of all Pokémon games, from the original Pokémon Red and Blue to the upcoming Pokémon Sun and Moon, is to collect these virtual creatures and increase your arsenal of creatures. The original Pokémon games began with 151 creatures, but has since expanded to approximately 720. In this new “augmented reality” game, only the first generation of 151 creatures are available to catch. The major difference between the new Pokémon Go app and the original games is that you directly fight the creatures and capture them with Poké Balls; you are not relying on your team of Pokémon to fight for you.
Pokémania began in the late 1990s. In 1998, the original handheld games, Pokémon Red and Blue reached America. In 1999 and 2000, Yellow and Gold and Silver came to America, respectively. Spinoffs, like a TV show, movies, trading cards, etc., followed and augmented the games’ popularity. Pokémon peaked in popularity during the late 1990s and early 2000s–it was the franchise known by all. In subsequent years, the franchise remained strong, yet never regained the cultural phenom status that it once had. That is until now.
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