Student Developers Bring Real-Time AR Pokémon Battles To Smartphones

Your move, Pokemon GO…
With it’s two year anniversary just around the corner, Pokémon GO has still managed to retain a fairly dedicated following despite its infrequent release of updates and lack-luster improvements. Sure there’s plenty of new generation monsters to hunt as well as an active gym scene, but the love for the groundbreaking title has withered, due in large part to the lack of basic features such as trading, deeper character creation and more social features.

However it’s without doubt the complete absence of player vs. player functionality that has disappointed fans the most. Constantly dangled in front of us by developer Niantic, but still yet-to-be announced, PvP Pokémon battles are the cornerstone of the entire franchise, serving as a large chunk of both the video games as well as the animated films and television shows. Fans at this point have all but lost hope of ever seeing some form of direct competitive play other than the clumsily-designed gym battles, which is exactly why a group of dedicated student developers have taken matters into their own hands.

Like a ray of light penetrating through a sea of stormy clouds comes a new AR experience that brings the heart-pumping action of one-on-one Pokémon battles to your smartphone. Brought to life by a talented group of student developers and engineers, the visually-impressive proof-of-concept utilizes both Apple’s ARkit and Android’s ARCore+ platforms to bring multi-device battles to the living room, the streets, the mountains, pretty much anywhere you can carry your smartphone. This is possible thanks to a 100% decentralized shared experience that utilizes bluetooth connectivity over WiFi, completely removing the need for a steady internet connection.
In the video provided above we can see that the AR experience, which was shot on both a Google Pixel as well as Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, already features some impressive features spread throughout its friendly user-friendly interface. Much like the original game series, it appears as though you’ll have a variety of moves and attacks to select from during your turn-based battles. It’s all a matter of simply opening the app, finding a local partner via a bluetooth earch, calibrating the surface so your pocket monsters appear in the correct locations and, finally, selecting the team roster you’ll use for battle.

The application, despite remaining a work-in-progress, appears to be lovingly-crafted tribute to the series, paying honor with classic Pokemon moves and attacks as well as a “Pokemon Tournament” style arena aesthetic – minute details that come together to deliver a visually crisp augmented experience. No word yet on whether or not you’ll be getting your hand on this Pokemon battle simulation anytime soon, but seeing as this is Nintendo and those are their legally-owned characters, I wouldn’t get your hopes up for an official release in the near future, if at all.
However this entire project also begs an important question: If a group of students can manage to bring working Pokemon PvP to smartphones running on different platforms, what’s stopping a professional studio such as Niantic from doing the same with Pokemon GO?
Image Credit: Bradley Treuherz via YouTube.com
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