wizards unite

Pokémon GO Trainers Can Reserve Their Name for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite

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Pokémon GO players can now reserve their user names for upcoming AR mobile game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

To reserve your name, you’ll need to head to the website and select the option to use your Pokémon Go Trainer Nickname. If you play Ingress (or would rather use that name), you can select to use your Ingress Agent Name instead.

Since Ingress and Pokémon GO do not share user names, it’s possible your name could be used by another person from the other game. Name reservations will happen on a first come, first served basis. You have until midnight on April 30 to reserve your name.

All three games are developed by Niantic, Inc. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is developed in conjunction with WB Games and Portkey Games. Like Niantic’s other mobile games, it will use augmented reality to display magical environments and creatures in the real world, via your smartphone.

Niantic provided the first details of Wizards Unite last month. Players take on the role of a new recruit of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force. The goal is to investigate magical aberrations that threaten to expose the wizarding world. You’ll be able to cast spells, collect Foundables, unlock Portkeys, and battle enemies in Wizarding Challenges.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will launch later this year.

pokémon go

You Can Now Switch Teams in Pokémon GO, For a Price

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One of the fist steps in creating an account in popular mobile AR game Pokémon GO is choosing which color team to join. Team Instinct (yellow), Team Mystic (blue), and Team Valor (red) compete with each other for control of gyms around the world.

You may have joined team yellow because all your friends were doing it. But since then you’ve realized that team blue is way stronger and more popular in your home town. For the last three years we’ve had to live with that initial big decision. In an update hitting later today, you can finally change teams, with some notable limitations.

Starting today, Feb. 26,  at 1 pm Pacific/4 pm Eastern you’ll be able to purchase a Team Medallion. Team Medallions cost 1,000 PokéCoins from the shop. It’ll wait in your inventory until you’re ready to use it. Once activated, it will guide you through the team selection step as if you were creating a new account. Choose wisely, however. To avoid team hopping, Team Medallions can only be purchased once every 365 days.

Any Pokémon currently defending your old team’s gyms will be returned to you once they’re defeated – without earning you any PokéCoins. And no, you can’t turn around and battle your own Pokémon. If you return to a gym with your Pokémon defending your old team, they will be returned to you.

furiends

Walk Your Virtual Dog with Furiends AR Mobile Game

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Furiends is a mobile AR game designed to motivate players to get up and move around. Instead of hunting for Pokémon, however, you’re walking the dog.

“Furiends offers the one-of-a-kind experience of adopting a dog in augmented reality,” said Kyra Constam, Blue Goji. “These virtual dogs can go on any adventure, making for some unreal photos along the way. We encourage players to play, train, and take their best shot.”

The goal is to play and walk with your furry friends as much as possible. Stars are rewarded for playtime while Coins are rewarded for taking steps using your smart phone’s step tracker. Stars and Coins can be traded in to gift your pet with food, toys, clothes, and accessories for photos.

Players are encouraged to upload their AR dog pics to Furiends’ official Instagram account for a chance to win prizes.

Furiends will be playable at PAX South this weekend, taking place in San Antonio, TX. The mobile game is currently free to download on iOS, and supported by in-app purchases to buy more toys, accessories, and other items for your virtual pet. Blue Goji is donating a portion of the proceeds to non-profit pet rescue organization Austin Pets Alive.

An Android version is set to arrive later this year. Furiends has a rating of 4+ on the App Store.

ingress prime

Pokémon GO Dev Reboots Original AR Mobile Game Ingress

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When Pokémon GO launched two years ago, it drove a lot of newcomers to the concept of Augmented Reality. Developer Niantic had built upon their AR technology with an earlier game, called Ingress.

This week Niantic launched a rebooted version of Ingress, called Ingress Prime. Ingress Prime is available now as a free download on iOS and Android.

“Ingress Prime is built on Niantic’s Real World Platform and serves as a key driver for innovation around gameplay and technologies for all Niantic products,” said John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic. “Since its original release in November 2012, Ingress and its passionate and diverse user community have been an inspiration for the team to create new and innovative ways for players to work together both in-game and in the real world.”

Players embody agents of two different factions: the Enlightened and the Resistance, within the sci-fi near future world of Ingress. The story will evolve and change depending on how the agents interact and which side can control various landmarks around the world.

Anomaly events are similar to Pokémon GO’s Community Days, bringing people together for a weekend of mobile gaming. Niantic plans to host 12 Primary Anomaly events around the world, as well as over 100 smaller community-drive events. You can find out the wheres and whens of the events on the Ingress website.

With the launch of Ingress Prime, Niantic is also expanding the story and setting of their sci-fi universe. The Ingress Anime is an new CG-animated series coming in 2019 on Netflix. It’s described as a sci-fi adventure thriller featuring Ingress Agents and gameplay.

Pokémon GO will be celebrating Ingress Prime’s release with shiny green Cubones and blue Ponytas, as well as free in-game avatar gifts. Ingress Prime is available now on iOS and Android mobile devices.

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.