Pokemon Go rolls out to iOS App Store, available in select US locations

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Nintendo and Niantic Labs on Tuesday surprised with a limited rollout of anticipated augmented reality game Pokémon Go, making the title available for download in Australia, New Zealand and certain U.S. markets.

Pokémon Go uses smartphone camera and GPS hardware to create an augmented reality world in which players can capture, collect, trade and battle Pokémon. The app launch has been confirmed in Australia and New Zealand for both iOS and Android, while some U.S. App Store customers are also reporting immediate availability.

Developed by Niantic, the app puts players in the shoes of a Pokémon trainer who, armed with an iPhone-cum-Poké Ball, roams their city in search of the elusive creatures. As a user travels around the real world their iPhone vibrates to alert them of nearby Pokémon that can viewed and captured onscreen.

Trainers can also find characters congregating at PokéStops that correlate with real life landmarks and events. The Pokémon Company says these hotspots range from art installations to historical markers and monuments.

Location aware technology is central to the game's mechanics. For example, certain Pokémon, like water-type characters, can only be captured near bodies of water, meaning players have to travel outside to find new species. In fact, the entire app incentivizes motion. Pokémon Eggs, discoverable at PokéStops, only hatch after players walk a preset distance.

Like other games in the series, Pokémon Go features a multiplayer element that pits teams of characters against each other in virtual battle. The goal is to take control of "gyms" scattered throughout the world. Players can assign Pokémon to hold and defend an empty gym, or elect to attack an occupied gym using their cadre of collected characters.

Nintendo is also marketing an optional wearable device that keeps users in the game without requiring constant access to their phone. Called Go Plus, the add-on connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and uses vibration and LED alerts to notify players of in game events, such as nearby Pokémon sightings.

Depending on local availability, Pokémon Go can be downloaded for free from the iOS App Store. The $35 Pokémon Go Plus device is expected for release later this month.


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