Pokemon GO - 4 Things We Hope to See from Niantic Labs' 2016 Mobile Game

Niantic Labs, the developer behind Ingress, is getting a crack at the Pokemon franchise in 2016. So here are four things we hope to see from Niantic's first 'GO' at Pokemon.


Wednesday night played host to one of the unlikeliest announcements of the year. Pokemon is no stranger to the mobile gaming space, with iOS and Android versions of The Pokemon TCG and Pokemon Shuffle already available. However, Pokemon GO has the potential to blow any previous effort out of the water, especially since it's being helmed by the studio behind the mobile phenomenon known as Ingress.

Here's what's known about Pokemon GO so far. It looks to operate very similarly to Ingress, in that players will engage with Pokemon and with other humans across the real world. Available Pokemon will vary depending on location. Many principles of standard Pokemon games will be in place. And finding Pokemon can be made easier through the use of a Pokemon GO Plus wrist peripheral.

Beyond that, there aren't many details about how the game itself will look. So while the excitement is still fresh, Shacknews is crafting a wishlist for Niantic Labs' stab at the Pokemon franchise. Here's what's at the top of our most wanted list for Pokemon GO.

An Intuitive Trading System with Wonder Trade

As of now, there are 721 Pokemon across six generations of Pokemon games. It would be madness to assume that a person can collect even half of them by staying close to their home. Even occasional travelers might bump into a few hundred Pokemon at best. So to come close to completing a full collection, catching 'em all means getting into some trading.

Pokemon GO has been confirmed to feature a trading system, much like what can be found in the main line of Pokemon games. However, this still might not be enough, especially if a person is trading with his or her own circle of friends that reside in the same area. What happens if a person still needs to expand beyond their own horizons?

A potential solution can be found in the current generation of Nintendo 3DS games. One of Pokemon X & Y's best new features was the addition of Wonder Trade, in which players can throw in an unwanted Pokemon and get a random one from a random user around the world in return. More often than not, a trader would end up with a common Pokemon like a Pidgey, but consider how many common creatures will be inhabiting the real world? Why not have Pidgey inhabit the west coast of the United States and have Spearow be common in Europe? Give users a good incentive to utilize Wonder Trade to help boost their collection. That incentive doesn't just have to be new Pokemon, either. Reward players with items like Poke Balls or the like by encouraging them to use rarer Pokemon, so that Wonder Trade doesn't get clogged with Bidoofs and their ilk.

Pokemon Battles with Real-World Environmental Conditions

What was one of the coolest aspects of the Pokemon anime series when it first debuted back in the late 90s? It was the idea of battling Pokemon on cool arenas that changed arena environments on the fly. Pokemon would battle on water, grass, or mountains to complement a Pokemon type. The games wouldn't adopt this exact idea, but they would eventually take weather into consideration, with certain weather conditions altering the course of battle.

With Pokemon GO confirmed to feature Pokemon battles, why not take this idea further? Have real-world conditions affect the course of battle. If there's a thunderstorm outside, battle some Pokemon indoors and have the rain enhance all Water-type attacks. If a family is making a stop along the desert and a kid wants to battle Pokemon with someone nearby, have the sandstorm condition kick in and harm Pokemon over the course of the game. Make the actual environment and location matter, with certain environments providing a "home field advantage" for certain Pokemon types. A Bulbasaur should theoretically be able to throttle a Squirtle in the forest, so I'm hoping that the game is smart enough to be able to take these matchups and arena settings into account.

Special Events with Legendary Pokemon

Legendary Pokemon should not be common encounters. Even after hours of gameplay, Legendary Pokemon encounters should not be common. They are legendary for a reason and that's because they're incredibly rare and even more difficult to catch. So make these encounters a true event, like the one hinted with Mewtwo in the reveal trailer. Or have roaming encounters like Suicune, Raikou, and Entei roam various countries and have the game monitor their movements. If they're nearby on a certain day, give users in that area an app alert that these rare creatures have been spotted.

Consider similar events that are held for the current generation of games on the 3DS. At the time of this writing, Shiny Rayquaza is still available via Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire's Mystery Gift feature. Have a similar limited time event, but task users with visiting a certain area to find these rare creatures. Have Pokemon GO users congregate around landmarks or even around the Nintendo World Store on a certain day to find a rare Legendary. People gathering around for a one-time opportunity could be an epic sight to behold.

Most importantly, have the Pokemon themselves react to the presence of Legendary creatures. Have herds of Tauros go stampeding in the opposite direction, trying to get away from the all-powerful Pokemon, or have a downed Kangaskhan on the ground as a result of it foolishly trying to take these things head-on. Legendary Pokemon are nigh-omnipotent and should be treated as such.

3DS Game Integration

One of the most interesting notes from Game Freak's Junichi Masuda last night was a note about Pokemon GO potentially connecting with the main series of Pokemon games. Raising Pokemon in the main series can be tough, even for the most dedicated Pokemon trainers. So imagine being able to transfer Pokemon between the main 3DS games and the mobile Pokemon GO to help further their training.

The 3DS Pokemon wouldn't even need to necessarily battle to further build their experience. For the HeartGold/SoulSilver generation, Nintendo introduced the Pokewalker that would allow trainers to earn experience in a new way. A Pokemon could be transferred from the handheld game to the Pokemon Watch and vice-versa. When inside the Pokewalker, trainers could earn experience by walking with their Pokemon. Pokemon GO could work in the same fashion by having trainers transfer their Pokemon to the mobile game to earn experience or foster friendship by walking them to new environments.

Integration does appear to be on the agenda for the future, so here's hoping that Pokemon GO plays well with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire... or whatever new main Pokemon game is announced for the series' 20th anniversary next year.

Less than 24 hours after its announcement, Pokemon GO is showing a lot of potential. What are some of your hopes for the 2016 mobile game? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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