Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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Here’s what Pokémon Go battles could have been

Here’s what Pokémon Go battles could have been

What is Pokémon Go lacking? Some will say the ability to trade Pokémon with friends. (A feature that is incidentally well on its way.) Nearly everyone will say half-decent servers, and the app not freezing up at least 10 times a day. Others will say better combat in its high-intensity gym battles. In Pokémon Go’s combat, the smartphone-wielding user swipes left to right to dodge their competitors’ attacks. They tap their Pokémon to do a smaller attack, while holding down once a charge is filled up to unleash a harsher attack. Regardless though, it’s not a whole lotta fun. And most devastatingly, it doesn’t feel very Pokémon.

In independent developer General Heed’s open-source HoloLens project Pokémon for HoloLens, he wants to bring real Pokémon battles into our everyday reality. That’s battles with actual attacking, not lackadaisical swiping. In his pre-alpha, sorta proof-of-concept video, a lowly Charmander is seen battling an oversized, terrifying Blastoise on a suburban lawn. The Blastoise is obviously much larger than the Charmander, and much stronger too (not just for size reasons—fire Pokémon are weak against water types, duh!).

The battling seen in the HoloLens demonstration is very bare—again, it is pre-alpha after all. In the video, Heed tells Charmander to attack, dodge, and evade. All three of which the Charmander stumbles with outdoors, but executes so swimmingly indoors, most likely due to the quiet surroundings. But Heed urges via text in the video that “a full battle system is definitely in the works.” Phew.

Battles with actual attacking, not lackadaisical swiping

This isn’t the only nostalgia-laden HoloLens project that Heed’s been working on. Heed began development for the similarly named Yu-Gi-Oh! for HoloLens in early June, after the HoloLens was released for developers to tinker with. For the unaware, Yu-Gi-Oh! is a similar iconic series to Pokémon from the 1990s. Except in Yu-Gi-Oh! instead of capturing monsters in the environment, they’re acquired via playing cards, and spawn from them for battle purposes. In Heed’s HoloLens project, he seeks to recreate the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game experience into full 3D. That means still throwing down cards, but watching as they come to life when in play.

This Charmander is narrowly diving out of the way of Blastoise's fury.
Charmander narrowly dives out of the way of Blastoise’s fury.

“After playing Pokémon Go, I was a little underwhelmed by the battles in that game,” wrote Heed in the opening blog post in his devlog for Pokémon for HoloLens, affirming complaints heard ‘round the world wide web. “So I figured the battle test bed for the Yu-Gi-Oh! game would be the perfect base for this particular game.” Heed’s Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! projects aren’t official, of course. But they show the potential for what Pokémon Go, and other AR-focused games, have the potential of graduating to one day. You know, when we all have HoloLenses screwed into our heads and can’t escape a mixed reality future.

You can follow the development of Pokémon for HoloLens here.

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