Pokemon Go – the smartphone game that has quickly become a global sensation – has finally been made available in the UK.
Some enthusiastic fans already downloaded the app via a workaround that involved convincing your phone you were a user from the US, where the game was launched earlier. This workaround gave users access to the stateside version of Google Play and the App Store, but such measures are unnecessary now it finally has a UK release.
The app allows players to roam a map of their real-life location using their phone's GPS location data. Just like in the classic Game Boy games, Pokemon can be caught to train and battle.
Pokemon appear in real-life locations and can be caught by using the smartphone's camera app, where they will be present in situ in the real-life setting the camera lens can see.
Despite only being out worldwide for a few days, it has already added millions to the value of games company Nintendo, which part-owns the franchise.
When Pokemon Go is first opened, the user gets to customise their trainer – the player's avatar in the game. This character can be male or female and a selection of apparel and accessories are on offer for a personalised look.
Higher levels can be attained as the trainer progresses – and at these higher levels more Pokemon are available, until the user can eventually fill their Pokedex with a collection of every Pokemon.
Players are encouraged to catch the same type of Pokemon multiple times, as this will make it possible for them to evolve it into a different form.
At a certain point in the game, the player is asked to join one of three teams. At this point, they will be given the ability to assign any caught Pokemon to a Gym location – a place in the real world. This team then has to defend this Gym from opposing teams in battles.
Speaking at the launch announcement for the app back in November 2015, senior managing director of Nintendo Shigeru Miyamoto explained that it is 20 years since the launch of the original titles in the perennially popular game series – Pokemon Red and Pokemon Green.
He added that the idea for the smartphone app reminded him of another spin-off in the franchise – Pokemon Snap for the Nintendo 64. This involved taking photos of Pokemon in a game world to build a collection of images.
"Nintendo has created a wide variety of game devices over the years. I believe that all of them have had a common mission of expanding the gaming population. I think that Pokemon Go [represents] another big step forward in accomplishing that mission," he commented.