International hit Pokémon Go was released about half a decade ago, even if it does feel like yesterday. Remember those days when everyone was outside walking around aimlessly trying to catch new Pokémon and capture their local gym?
For a mobile game Pokémon Go had a huge impact, with fans both new and old getting involved and suddenly pledging loyalty to Team Mystic, Valour or Instinct. The main wave of internet content may have come and gone, but the app is still supporting a dedicated fan base and picking up downloads on the app store.
The original Pokémon Go game was mainly a joint venture between Niantic and the Pokémon Company, with only a limited amount of communication going on with Nintendo. Since that mega hit Niantic hasn’t been in the spotlight too much, although they tried to popularise a Harry Potter themed exploration app without much success. Nintendo has made some odd choices with their own app releases, working together with a handful of partners to create smartphone games including Pokémon Sleep and Pokémon Smile, which you play while brushing your teeth. Cute as these apps are, they probably won’t be making a big impact on the market.
On March 23rd Niantic and Nintendo made a major announcement which might change both their fortunes. The pair has worked out a deal to produce a whole series of augmented reality smartphone apps, starting off with the familiar Pikmin franchise.
It’s not the long awaited Pikmin 4 (which was apparently ‘very close to completion’ in 2015), but the return of the popular strategy puzzle game created by the iconic Shigeru Miyamoto is definitely welcome. If you’re not clued into the Pikmin series the focus is on an adorable variety of tiny Pikmin…creatures, and their exploits on a familiar planet as they use their numbers and unique traits to work through problems.
Nintendo have said that the game will be very different from Pokémon Go, and there actually feels like a lot of potential for what could happen here. Will you pick up a trail of Pikmin and discover hidden puzzles to solve with friends? It’s totally possible, but so far there’s not much official information being released. We do know that the game is going to be produced at Niantic’s new Tokyo study, with development led by Pokémon Go director Tatsuo Nomura. The most important news is that we can expect the game sometime this year, unless Nintendo is getting our hopes up again for a punctual release.
Shigeru Miyamoto has said that “Based on the theme of making walking fun, our mission is to provide people a new experience that’s different from traditional games. We hope that the Pikmin and this app will become a partner in your life.” It’s good to hear from the original guy behind Pikmin, but that really doesn’t tell us anything about the game. It might be fantastic but who knows? For now we can only wait for updates, but you can pre-register for news on the project here.