The Pokémon Company

Last year for April Fool's day, Google released a map-based game that allowed people to track and catch Pokémon. A few dedicated trainers found the 150 monsters that Google scattered across the globe, prompting the company to officially dub them Pokémon masters.

As simple as that game was, it got people wondering whether Nintendo would ever actually produce a Pokémon game that put pocket monsters into the real world. Today, in a surprise announcement, The Pokémon Company announced that was partnering with Niantic Labs to do just that.

Pokémon Go, due out in 2016, will turn anyone with a cell phone into a fledgling Pokémon researcher.

In 2012, still a Google-backed startup, Niantic Labs released Ingress, a massively-multiplayer augmented reality game that required players to physically move throughout the world to play. Early footage of Pokémon Go suggests that it'll share some DNA with Ingress, encouraging players to go out, explore, and capture Pokémon the way trainers normally would.

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A wild Pikachu appears!
The Pokémon Company

In the past, the various regions featured in Pokémon games have been based on actual places like New York City, Paris, and different Japanese islands. Pokémon Go, head designer Junichi Masuda elaborated, is meant to turn the entire world into a virtual region.

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Pokémon Company CEO Tsunekazu Ishihara explained that in addition to the Android and iOS games, players will be able to wear a smartwatch-like device that, when paired with a smartphone, will notify players when they're physically close to a Pokémon.

A specific release date has yet to be announced, but next February is the 20-year anniversary for the original Pokémon games…