In less than a month after launch, Pokémon Go captured the world in its Poké Balls and augmented reality. Judging from thousands of screenshots circulating in our social media accounts, Pokémon Go presented a brand embraced even by casual users. It has now surpassed Candy Crush, and became the most downloaded mobile app in the United States. The game itself received mild praise from critics, but no one can deny the monumental highs Pokémon Go produced so far. The game has been downloaded for over 15 million times and caused an upswing in Nintendo’s value, by over $7.5 billion. It even surpassed Twitter in terms of number of daily users in the United States.
For those who are still unfamiliar with it, Pokémon is a video game created for Game Boy in 1996. The game received an anime adaptation, which spawned popularity in the West. The franchise grew so large that it became a staple Nintendo game, and the yellow-colored Pikachu became a popular mascot in many amusement parks. Over 200 million copies of the Pokémon game were sold up to this point, making it the second most successful game franchise of all time. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Nintendo re-released Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow this year. On the 6th of last July, we also witnessed the conception of the wildly popular Pokémon Go.
This game is currently available on Android and iPhone devices, and lets you use real locations to search for Pokémon creatures. Augmented reality games aren’t exactly new, but this revamp of a classic is warmly welcomed by the community. Medical practitioners also take great interest in the game, as it encourages physical activities and it eases stress. So, besides being fun, another fascinating fact about this game is its unintentional positive effect on the user’s health. Average users spend about 43 minutes playing Pokémon Go on a daily basis. That translates into approximately 1,593 calories burned (by women) in a week.
What Made Pokémon Go a Runaway Success?
The novelty of catching these cute animated creatures draws newcomers to play Pokémon Go. However, its gargantuan success is probably attributed to nostalgia induced to old time Pokémon players. Most Pokémon Go users are young adults and teens, which is not a coincidence, considering that Pokémon was the dominating game of their childhood. The ease of playing while enjoying some physical activity, also made this game an up to snuff fitness application.
It’s safe to say that, even if Pokémon Go is not the first AR game, it sure brought popularity to augmented reality. Many users had their first taste of this technology and they felt a new gaming experience.
After logging in, your current location will be displayed on your phone, together with a map of the immediate surroundings. Establishments, such as Pokémon shops and gyms, are also shown on the map. Since the game makes use of GPS, your avatar will move when you move in search of Pokémons. You can catch a wild Pokémon by throwing Poké Balls overlaid onto the real background. A Pokémon may also be owned by spotting hatching Pokémon eggs. Once you catch one, you need to increase your level by giving it stardust and candies. Pokémons are stored in Pokédex, a comprehensive encyclopedia about these little creatures. Higher levels mean you will catch more powerful Pokémons along the way. This also gives you access tor more potent items later in the game.
Player interaction is also possible, as long as you are inside a Pokémon gym, which is normally placed in a town’s popular site. You can participate at battles upon reaching a certain level, and you may join a team that acts as a larger division in Pokémon Go. You can challenge a gym owner and reduce the Gym’s Prestige by defeating him in battles. When the latter reaches zero, he loses control of it and you become its new owner.
Another amusing aspect of this game is the careful placement of Pokémons, which increases the feel of augmented reality. For example, flying Pokémon categories are placed at least at eye-level, and water-type ones are found near water. They are also located in interesting spots, although, to be fair, some of these choices are baffling. Pokémon Go received mixed reactions from the critics at its release. The gameplay and the smart inclusion of augmented reality to its interface were praised, yet the game was panned for technical issues. Nonetheless, the end users are wonderstruck by this game.
Other Games Similar to Pokémon Go and Why You Should Try Them Too
If you live in Asia or in parts of Europe where the game is not yet released, you might still have to wait for a while longer. This is due to the servers trying to accommodate insane influx of new users playing Pokémon Go. More and more people are walking their way to search for rarer pokémons. Whether the game will sustain the hype or not, depends on the improvements and updates Niantic and Nintendo will make in the near future.
If you really want to have a taste of augmented reality but you’re not a Pokémon fan, here are eight other similar apps you can enjoy. Some of these even boast a more impressive gameplay and graphics that will allure you to their respective worlds.
1. Real Strike
Turn your place in an augmented reality warzone with Real Strike. In this first person shooting game you are a military defending a base and you can shoot virtual enemies laid in real world. There are 25 high-precision weapons, from six different categories, to choose from when you are playing this game. What’s better? You do not have to worry about playing the game at night, thanks to its in-app thermal goggle vision which will help you complete your mission.
Real Strike can be downloaded from iTunes, for $2.99. This is a bit pricey for casual users, but the visuals and precise gameplay are enough to compensate the price tag.
2. Parallel Kingdom
Is MMORPG your thing when it comes to mobile games? Unleash the inner warrior in you by playing Parallel Kingdom. The game will have you moving around and killing monsters as you defend your own actual backyard. While Parallel Kingdom does not overlay real 2D images over real life backgrounds, it uses GPS and Maps to track your current location. You will be able to raise your avatar up to 40 levels and interact with other players through items barter. Player battles are allowed, and a leaderboard is presented, to show the top scoring users.
Parallel Kingdom is free in both Playstore and iTunes. As a result, it amassed over 2 million players in 100 countries. What’s the best? The game itself is devoid of less than necessary advertisement floating on your screen.
3. SpecTrek Light
You don’t even have to be a ghost aficionado to like SpecTrek Light. This is an award-winning augmented reality ghost-hunting game, that also works as a fitness application. It uses GPS to project ghosts at various locations on your Google Map, over a predetermined radius. You must walk to the destination in order to succeed over a mission. You also make use of your camera to catch the ghost by scanning it. If you are unable to catch one, a horn may be used to disturb all nearby ghosts and make them flee in other accessible locations. The more ghosts you catch, the better player you become.
The game was the first runner up in the Android Developer Challenge II and it is available in both Google Playstore and iTunes, for free.
4. Zombies Everywhere
Perhaps this game bears the most similarity with Pokémon Go, since you need to find something and catch it. Both applications utilize your camera to project graphics overlapped with the realistic setting. Instead of catching Pokémons, here you have to kill zombies your smartphone. This is the opposite of typical zombie setups, because you are the one chasing them, this time. You can use multiple weapons, like a mini-gun, rifles and flamethrowers. Zombies also come in different variants, including undead dogs and ancient ones. The game utilizes a levelling system that takes into consideration your zombie kill count and survival. Zombies Everywhere is also easy to play, and all you need to write off these monsters trying to eat you is a simple map.
Also, for those of you gamers who love to kill without being hurt, the creators employed the Safe Mode. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to level up if you use it, though. This mobile game is downloadable on iTunes for just $0.99.
5. Zombies, Run!
Unleash more of your fascination with zombie apocalypse by using this app. The gameplay focuses on you needing to survive a horde of zombies chasing you. What also adds to the pressure is your need to get supplies, gather survivors and defend home while you run. Befitting as a health-wellness application, Zombies,Run! challenges gamers to jog while listening to creepy story lines and sound effects. Zombies, Run! also requires you to run faster whenever a pack of zombies is near you. Meanwhile, you get more supplies as you reach farther distances. The premise is worthy of your time, as it boasts an award-winning plot as its core. You can also set intervals to finish over 200 missions.
Join the 1 million users by downloading Zombies, Run! on your smartphone or iPhone, for free!
6. The Walk
If Zombies, Run! requires you to change your pace, The Walk encourages you to develop a fitness habit over its intentionally long storyline. The premise is quite similar with the former, because you are assumed to carry a world-saving package in the game. You are situated in a post-apocalyptic scenario, where a bomb exploded and you are humanity’s last hope for survival. That is, if you can walk over a distance of 500 miles. Don’t worry, you have three months-worth of steps to finish your mission. There are no zombies or monsters in sight, yet you have to walk your way to survive. While it does not utilize your camera, the application records the distance you reached, as a means of progress in the game. Along the way and the nearer you get to your destination, you also unlock ambient audio story clips.
With over 750,000 users, The Walk is available in both Google Playstore and iTunes, for free.
If you find the zombie theme a bit too intense for your lifestyle, why not engage in the augmented reality version of treasure hunting? Geocaching is similar to Pokémon Go, mostly because both applications use GPS to help you look for and unravel hidden items near your area. However, Geocaching leaned more on using 3D materials, because you will actually search for real containers! The thrill of pinpointing these containers is intensified by running across real items whenever you find a geocache. The contents range from quirky everyday items to amazing trades you never saw before.
For you to play the game, you must register at Geocache.com for free. Then, you will be presented over 2 million geocaches you may find, depending on your location. Once you find one, you may take something from it, but make sure you also have an item to trade. Sign in again to your account and report the trade you found from the geocache. A mobile application is also available in Google Playstore and iTunes, for free.
Because Ingress also reached considerable levels of popularity, we can say that Niantic’s success with Pokémon Go is not a fluke. Both games utilize GPS and real life places as references in their gameplay. Your goal in Ingress is to hack “portals” located in several destinations of cultural significance or landmarks, and to link them so that you create triangular fields. Remarkably, the areas of these fields range from meters to hundreds of kilometers. International links are also commonly seen, because of the game’s worldwide success. These triangle fields serve as your control territory over geographical areas. Ingress also allows player interaction, by having their avatars battle against each other. Before you worry over real fights, players are grouped into factions (an inspiration for Pokémon Go), which engage in battles over their respective territories.
Interestingly, data derived from Ingress portal locations are the backbone of Pokémon Go shops and gyms. Ingress received numerous awards and millions of dedicated users upon release. The game is available in Playstore and iTunes, for free.
Have you tried any of these augmented reality games? Voice your experience in the comment box!