At last Poké­mon GOes home

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

TOKYO: Ea­ger Ja­panese rushed to their phones yes­ter­day to start hunt­ing as Poké­mon GO, the hit Nin­ten­dobacked smart­phone game, fi­nally launched in their coun­try, home of the colour­ful car­toon char­ac­ters.

The game has been an un­ex­pected, ru­n­away suc­cess from Spain to Aus­tralia, dou­bling Nin­tendo’s value since the game’s launch in the US ear­lier this month. Ja­pan had been made to wait, as de­vel­op­ers Nianti and Nin­tendo sought to en­sure servers would with­stand its pop­u­lar­ity.

“Ev­ery­one was talk­ing about why we couldn’t do it here, since Poké­mon is Ja­panese,” said Maho Ishikawa, a 16-yearold high school stu­dent who said she had al­ready cap­tured a mon­ster.

“Since I re­ally wanted to play, I’m very, very glad.”

The aug­mented re­al­ity game has play­ers out in their real life neigh­bour­hoods “cap­tur­ing” mon­sters on their phones as they turn up even in or­di­nary of­fices and taxis.

In a video ad­dress to Ja­panese fans, Ju­nichi Ma­suda, head of de­vel­op­ment at Game Freak and co-cre­ator of the game, apol­o­gised for keep­ing play­ers wait­ing.

“From to­day you can go out and find Poké­mon to your heart’s con­tent. We hope the game en­ables users to see the world in a new, ful­fill­ing way. Obey the rules and have fun.”

Univer­sity stu­dents in Tokyo on their last day of classes be­fore the sum­mer hol­i­days did just that, jump­ing into the fray within mo­ments of the launch, cap­tur­ing mon­sters as a frenzy erupted be­tween classes.

“This game is just as I imag­ined it to be; it’s re­ally fun,” said Toshi­nori Ishibashi, 18, who was seen play­ing the game near a Poké­mon goods store in Tokyo Sta­tion. “It’s also a great rea­son to go out­side, so I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it.”

As re­tail­ers and brands vie for a piece of a hit that takes play­ers from place to place, fast food chain McDon­ald’s said its nearly 3 000 shops across Ja­pan would serve as spots where Poké­mon can be bat­tled or “trained” in the game.

The game has en­thralled play­ers and boosted in­vestors’ view of Nin­tendo’s fu­ture, as they bet the group can cash in on other lu­cra­tive car­toon char­ac­ters, like Don­key Kong.

But it has also prompted warn­ings, as play­ers glued to phones be­come prone to trip­ping over, crash­ing cars, get­ting mugged or wan­der­ing into dan­ger­ous places.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment be­came the lat­est to is­sue a safety warn­ing, telling users not to use their real names and warn­ing them about the risks of heat stroke. – Reuters

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