jurassic world alive

Jurassic World Alive is a Better AR Game than Pokémon GO

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I love Pokémon GO. I fell in love with the brilliant concept of hunting Pokémon in the real world and forgave the horrendous networking issues along with everyone else when it launched two years ago.

Jurassic World Alive borrows much of the basic gameplay and mechanics of Pokémon GO, using dinosaurs in place of Pokémon. Even if you’re not a big dino-fan, Jurassic World Alive improves upon Pokémon GO in several key areas, making it the AR game I’m more likely to play when I’m out.

Bingo, Dino DNA

Inn Jurassic World Alive you are a member of the Dinosaur Protection Group. Your mission is to save dinosaurs by, uh, shooting them with tranquilizer darts, creating genetic hybrids, and battling other dinosaurs. Who knew prehistoric conservation could be so much fun?

jurassic world aliveJust as in Pokémon GO, your primary job is to collect creatures on an augmented reality map, localized to your current location. Dinosaurs and Pit Stops are scattered around the world, the latter giving you darts to capture dinosaurs and gold for upgrading them.

When you find a dinosaur you enter a timed mini-game. The dinosaur runs around as your flying drone attempts to fire tranq darts from above. A crosshair reappears in different places on your target as you hit the marks, upping the challenge. It makes capturing the dinosaurs far more engaging and less frustrating than flinging a bunch of poké balls.

The other key difference is that you never capture a single dinosaur. Instead you collect a number of DNA points, depending on how well you hit the crosshairs. A direct bullseye will net over 10 DNA per shot, while a grazing shot gives half of that. If you miss the crosshair you’ll receive none at all.

Since each capture session is timed, you can only get a limited amount of DNA from each dinosaur. This provides a welcome incentive to capture duplicates dinos.

Gather a certain amount of DNA and you can create that dinosaur. Rarer, stronger dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurs Rex require much more DNA. Each dinosaur can also be leveled up by collecting additional DNA, with upgrades granting more health and stronger attacks. You’ll definitely want stronger dinos because the turn-based combat is legitimately fun.

We Need More Teeth

Combat in Jurassic World Alive isn’t limited to Gyms as in Pokémon GO. You simply select the Battle button from the menu and match up with a similar rank opponent. You can bring up to four dinosaurs on your battle team, with the goal of defeating three of your opponent’s dinosaurs before they do the same to you.

Battles are intuitive and fun. Unlike the constant clicking chaos of Pokémon GO, combat in Alive is entirely turn-based. Each dinosaur has two to three moves you can choose from. Most include secondary effects like slowing down an opponent, or adding a protective shield for your next turn. Passive abilities include armor that reduces damage, or automatically counter-attacking after receiving damage.

jurassic world aliveThere’s enough variety in the starting common dinosaurs that I’ve already been adjusting my team several times over as I find the right mix. The Velociraptor, one of the easiest dinosaurs to level up in the beginning, hits extremely hard with an ability that does an additional x2 damage. It has very little health, however, making it good for a strong opening attack that I immediately switch out with something beefier, like the Euoplocephalus.

While many of the abilities are outlandish and very video gamey (like the aforementioned shield, which literally looks like a sci-fi hologram in front of the dinosaur) I appreciate that most of the dinosaurs are drawn from real world creatures. Each stat sheet includes a nice little About This Creature section, featuring a few sentences of science facts. Euoplocephalus, for example, means ‘well-armed head.’ It’s not exactly National Geographic but it’s nice to see some effort made to create some educational content in a game about collecting and battling dinosaurs.

In another improvement, the Supply Drops, Jurassic World Alive’s equivalent of Poké Stops, are much more frequent and accessible. This makes a huge difference to folks living in more rural areas, where the dearth of Poké Stops makes Pokémon GO almost unplayable. A free incubator is also given every six hours, which always includes a pack of 20 darts, no matter where you are.

You can purchase additional incubators (essentially loot boxes), gold, and darts with cash, and cash can be acquired with real money purchases. But it never pushes them on you, and I haven’t felt the need to spend any real money despite devoting quite a few hours into my new dino collecting hobby.

If I have one complaint, it takes a long time to level. Like Pokémon GO, your character also levels up. Reaching higher levels spawns better and rarer dinosaurs in the wild. The leveling feels painfully slow, even early on, limiting you to seeing the same few dinosaurs everywhere.

As it cross its two year anniversary Pokémon GO’s star-studded status has faded from the public view. Pokémon remains a stellar franchise and finding Pokémon in an AR game is still very enjoyable. I have no doubt that the upcoming Switch tie-ins, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, will spark a wave of new interest.

I love Pokémon and Pokémon GO, but Jurassic World Alive does a better job of everything Pokémon GO does. At this point I have fully switched over from Gotta Catch ‘Em all into humming that classic John Williams theme.

pokemon go

Pokémon GO Celebrates the Holidays this Weekend

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Today kicks off a special holiday weekend event in Pokémon GO. The Santa hat-wearing Pikachu returns this year, as well as new Water and Ice-type Pokémon from the Hoenn region (Gen 3). The event begins later today at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern.

The first Gen 3 Pokémon were recently added during the Halloween event. As a further incentive to go out and catch ’em all, you can earn a egg incubators from PokéStops. The first PokéStop you spin each day between December 22 and December 25 will award a single-use egg incubator.

If you fancy spending a little money in the in-game shop, you can find some of the best deals during the holiday event. Special boxes will include Super Incubators, Lure Modules and Star Pieces. Star Pieces are a new item that grants bonus Stardust for 30 minutes when activated. Another bundle sale will kick in right after the holiday event, from December 25 through January 4, where you can grab special boxes of Premium Raid Passes, Super Incubators, and Star Pieces.

Niantic, Inc are in the process of updating Pokémon GO to support the new AR+ feature in iOS 11 (supported in iPhone 6 and newer). With this new optional feature, Pokémon will be more accurately positioned and sized relative to their environment and distance from you. AR+ mode adds a new challenge to catching Pokémon by tracking your proximity. Pokémon can flee if they see a trainer coming too close to quickly. The additional challenge comes with more rewards, including XP and Stardust.

The holiday event ends December 25 at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Is a Pokémon GO-like AR Mobile Game

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The creators of Pokémon GO (Niantic Inc.) are joining forces with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to create an augmented reality mobile game based on J.K. Rowling’s incredibly popular Harry Potter series. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will utilize the same AR technology as Pokémon GO. No release date has yet been announced. More details will be revealed in 2018.

“At Niantic, our goal is to leverage technology to create real world experiences that help people to discover the wonderful, and often magical parts of the world around them,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc. “The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.”

Gameplay will operate much like Pokémon GO. Players will explore neighborhoods and cities, learning and casting spells, finding magical artifacts, and encounter beasts and characters from the Harry Potter universe.

“With this game, we are allowing the passionate, worldwide fan base to experience J.K. Rowling’s deeply powerful and imaginative universe in a new, truly immersive way,” said David Haddad, President, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. “It is wonderful to have Niantic’s remarkable augmented reality expertise as we develop this incredibly rich wizarding world for players to explore in their everyday lives.”

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is co-developed by Niantic and Portkey Games. Portkey Games is a games label under WBIE that specifically creates content based on the Harry Potter license. Harry Poter: Wizards Unit will be published by Niantic, and is probably coming some time next year.

Niantic has come under frequent fire and criticism regarding server issues and instability for Pokémon GO, particularly surrounding the game’s rocky launch in Summer 2016. Despite frequent setbacks and problems Pokémon GO proved so popular it reached mainstream cultural phenomenon that most games can only dream of.

Harry Potter’s popularity easily rivals that of Pokémon. Let’s hope they have a handle on the incoming tide of wizards.