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Pokémon GO: Mobile app lets you catch ‘em all in the real world

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Oh, to be a child of the Pokémon generation.

To have eschewed handball and freeze tag to surreptitiously link up Game Boys on the school playground. To have squinted in the dark on long road trips, collected copious trading cards with little knowledge of how to actually use them, and denied sales of holographic Charizards to neighborhood entrepreneurs out of some misplaced fulsome conviction that a better price would come your way. It never did.

But what did arrive, eventually, are all of the technological developments that kids in the prime Pokémon demo dreamed of as they grew up in the late ‘90s. No, a Mario-like sandbox console game never quite materialized for the Gamecube crowd (or even for the more physically apropros Wii), but a new wave of Pokémon entertainment is making good on all the Dewgong dreams you hoped for as a child. Pokémon, as it were, has caught up with 2015.

Last month’s news: An arcade fighting game heading to the Wii U.

Today’s news: Pokémon GO, an iPhone- and Android-compatible app that will allow users to find, catch, trade, and battle Pokémon as they venture out into the cruel, bright light of the real world. It’s difficult to explain in theory, so watch the official teaser video below:

(Kudos to the production team for cooking up a video that’s equal parts Verizon commercial and Spider-Man final villain battle.)

Ostensibly, users will go out into the real world to search for wild Pokemon in their neighborhoods, digitally hiding out behind their local vagrants and bodegas. You’ll receive a notification in the app or a Bluetooth device called a Pokémon GO Plus that will ping you when an event pops up nearby — a wild Pokemon’s appearance, perhaps, or a Lass or Hiker looking to battle. (Contrary to the teaser video, I find it hard to believe you will EVER see a level 36 Charizard just chilling in a meadow.) It’s also basically a real-world activation of last year’s genius Google prank.

The initial download is free, with plenty of in-app purchases available to deplete your bank account. If you’ve lived your life expecting that evolutions come free, get ready to change your mindspace come 2016.

The same pitfalls as the trading card game may apply here. That is, introverted Pokémon trainers who are maybe more Tangela than Mr. Mime may not possess the social adventurism to engage in outrageous battles with strangers. But being a solo player never really limited a person in Kanto before, and hopefully it won’t hinder someone’s enjoyment of this new venture, either.

All-in, Pokémon GO sounds insane — and fantastic, if you’ve been holding out hope that your childhood faith in full Pokémon immersion would one day be rewarded. (We already have a real-world Jynx, after all.) It’s a damn cool time to be a Pokémon fan, and based on the characters who pop up in the teaser, the companies involved (Niantic, Inc., The Pokémon Company, and Nintendo) are going after the nostalgia crowd who have only pledged loyalty to the original 150.

Dare I say … is it time to bust out the old Game Boy Pocket again?

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