5 franchises that should follow Pokemon Go into mobile AR
Pokémon Go has ushered in a full-fledged augmented reality phenomenon. People are outside, getting fresh air and exercise, while they live out their dreams of catching the titular creatures in the real world. Like many trends before it, this could be the start of something special. But the best way for AR gaming to become a powerful mainstay is for it to evolve far past its humble beginnings. Yes, Pokémon Go is popular, and yes, it'll probably yield many AR games like it, but it would be great if different franchises took the movement in new and unique directions.
Here are five series that we think should follow in the footsteps of Pokémon Go, while simultaneously carving out their own specific nooks in the AR gaming world.
When Nintendo and Level-5 released Yo-Kai Watch on the 3DS, it made for one of the most entertaining Pokémon-like experiences in a long time. Though that series hasn't been around nearly as long as Nintendo's famed monster-catching franchise, it's growing in popularity and has crafted a nice following of its own.
Aside from the fact that Pokémon and Yo-Kai Watch share striking similarities, I think the coolest thing that could be done if the latter follows the former into the AR world, is to create a crossover of sorts. Imagine being able to pit creatures from both series against each other, or teaming them up to take on other groups of monsters. Now that would be pretty awesome!
Okay, so Pokémon Go is great for getting people off their couches and walking about their neighborhoods. But how about a Punch-Out AR game that has you running instead? You would step into Little Mac's shoes and take on his intense jogging routine. But really, you'd be building your own running routine in a game/fitness fusion. And by game/fitness, I don't mean something like the Zumba games — nothing against those, but they're more workout video than video game in their design.
Anyway, there you'd be, with Doc Louis guiding you as you jog around town, which would help to improve Little Mac's in-game stats. And scattered around the surrounding area you'd find opponents to take on, Punch-Out style. Or, if Nintendo's planning to incorporate NX and mobile device cross-functionality, perhaps you could simply unlock new opponents for a base Punch-Out NX game by seeking them out in the real world.
Like Pokémon Go, an AR-enabled Punch-Out would be awesome because it would get you up and moving, but it would be even better if it included unlockable content for a full NX title.
Sam and Max (Or Any Telltale Series for That Matter)
Point-and-click adventure games are about as old-school as you can get, which is why it would be an intriguing prospect to combine that kind of game with the more recent AR style. Something like Sam and Max — or any one of Telltale Games' popular adventure series — would make a fine choice because it would take the sleuthing gameplay that the genre's known for and add a real-world investigative twist. In franchises like Sam and Max or The Walking Dead, characters travel great lengths to find clues, uncover mysteries, and, in the case of the latter, just survive.
An AR Sam and Max game would require players to walk around their neighborhoods to find the right clues and solve big cases. And just like the traditional point-and-click Sam and Max adventures, the best capers would be the ones that have players taking on mysteries that string together multiple clues to create a more complex puzzle. Oh, and because the series is filled with witty writing and comedic voice acting, listening to the game (either through your smartphone's speakers or a pair of earbuds) would be a must.
If this doesn't happen as an AR experience, can Telltale at least just make another Sam and Max game for the hell of it one of these days? Some of us really miss that series!
The Batman: Arkham games proved that there is room for previously existing licenses in gaming. Those games showed us that comic book franchises could make for rad action-adventure experiences without feeling like cheap cash-ins. The upcoming Batman game from Telltale and the VR title in the works are indicative of the fact that DC Comics' famed franchise has serious staying power in the world of gaming. Well, what about an AR Batman game?
Like Sam and Max, Batman could have players finding clues to solve bigger mysteries in their surroundings. Or perhaps it could employ one of the coolest aspects of the Arkham games: Riddler Trophies. Those bite-sized riddles are a great deal of fun to figure out, and are my personal favorite parts of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Now, I wouldn't suggest a full retail game with nothing but Riddler Trophies, but for an AR game on smartphones it would make for a really cool diversion.
Pokémon Go has set the basic foundations for what is a brilliant idea, but if we're being honest it's actually quite shallow in gameplay, especially once you start seeing the same critters everywhere you go. What if instead of simply walking around and collecting pokemon, you actually unlocked rad WarioWare micro-games? Imagine heading to a nearby park or building or other landmark and discovering these bite-sized experiences. It'd be pretty cool, and for fans of the series it would be fun just walking around and finding out what micro-games are available nearby, and building your very own micro-game collection.
It would probably be best if these micro-games were unlocked in larger numbers, like five at a time. Because, let's be honest, it might get too tedious walking two blocks only to unlock one 10-second micro-game, and then another three blocks for just one more. Also, unlike Pokémon Go, there would be no room for duplicates, as going to multiple locations for the same micro-games would probably piss a lot of players off. After all, the whole point is to keep people moving around and engaged.
Extra Pick: Crossy Road
Can you imagine playing real-life Crossy Road? Running through traffic, avoiding trains while you cross railroad tracks, and performing death-defying leaps as police cars drive by?
Um, okay, so maybe this one wouldn't be such a great idea. Never mind.