At last Pokémon GOes home
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