Pokémon GO launches on US App Store

Pokemong Go teaser 001

Following a period of field-testing in the United States, Nintendo’s augmented-reality game Pokémon GO should become available shortly on App Stores in select countries, including the United States and Japan. A Pokémon Company spokesperson told a Wall Street Journal reporter to “please wait for a while” for formal launch of the game.

Update: Pokémon GO is now available in the US App Store.

The download is already live on the New Zealand and Australian App Stores and is expected to launch later today on the Japanese and US App Stores.

Pokémon GO is Nintendo’s second iOS game after Miitomo, an odd title designed as “a friendly conversation starter” and based on Nintendo’s lucrative Mii universe.

An augmented-reality experience

Realized in partnership with games developer Niantic Labs and Pokémon Company, Pokémon GO takes advantage of your iPhone’s camera, sensors and location information to create an augmented reality experience set in the real world.

After creating and customizing your avatar and playing the tutorial, you must venture into the real world and use the game’s built-in maps to find and capture other Pokémon, including Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Pikachu and other characters.

Your iPhone vibrates when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Collected Pokémons can be trained, traded or used to defend nearby Gyms in the real world from other players.

You can join one of three teams to engage in Gym battles with other teams. Gyms can be found at real locations in the world. Because only one Pokémon per player can be placed at a Gym, team members will need to work together to build a strong defense.

A Gym claimed by one team can be challenged by the other two teams.

To reiterate, the game uses real-world maps and real location information to allow players to experience catching, trading and battling Pokémon.

Key highlights

From release notes:

  • Search far and wide for Pokémon and items—Certain Pokémon appear near their native environment—look for Water-type Pokémon by lakes and oceans. Visit PokéStops, found at interesting places like museums, art installations, historical markers, and monuments, to stock up on Poké Balls and helpful items.
  • Catching, hatching, evolving and more—As you level up, you’ll be able to catch more-powerful Pokémon to complete your Pokédex. You can add to your collection by hatching Pokémon Eggs based on the distances you walk. Help your Pokémon evolve by catching many of the same kind.
  • Take on Gym battles and defend your Gym—As your Charmander evolves to Charmeleon and then Charizard, you can battle together to defeat a Gym and assign your Pokémon to defend it against all comers.

The company is even selling a dedicated wearable Bluetooth accessory designed to ping you when a Pokémon has been identified in your vicinity.

Gotta catch ’em all!

Pokémon GO will launch on the US App Store via this iTunes link. The free-to-play game is optimized for smartphones, not tablets, and includes optional In-App Purchases for various items, ranging from 99 cents to as much as a hundred bucks.