Pokemon Go is probably the first app that got nerds to go to a gym. This nerd is a just few Pokemon short of going to one. I like the game and catching Pokemon is fun, but there just isn’t much time to explore the outside world. In one commute, however, I caught over 10 Pokemon during a slow bus ride and a few more after that. I also managed to evolve a Rattata into a Raticate which is now my buddy. Basically, the game is fun, and my kids are enjoying it, playing Pokemon Uranium and relating more to the Pokemon TV series. Now, catching that many Pokemon meant keeping my phone on with the game running most of the time during the commute which took a toll on the battery. I also had to keep the phone out in the open. A shiny iPhone 6S for felons to see. The solution to that problem would be the Pokemon Go Plus which would help players catch Pokemon without having to take out their phones. Apart from getting alerted to Pokemon and Pokestops, and being able to catch Pokemon on the fly, there’s not much else to the product, and real Pokemon fans would give the device actual value.
But Niantic, not Nintendo tweeted that there’s actually more to the product than meets the packaging. Nintendo has stated that the Pokemon Go Plus, in some regions would be useless in automatically catching Pokemon you haven’t caught before. Now that really miffed many players. What’s the point of the device then? Not having that function was really disappointing when everyone had the impression they’d be able to “catch ‘em all” when the device was first announced. But, as a consolation, the device will still alert of unfamiliar Pokemon with a yellow light instead of green and will give players to open their phones and catch the creature manually. Another thing Niantic announced is that the Pokemon Go Plus will be able to track distance in order to train buddy Pokemon and to hatch eggs, something Nintendo stated the device doesn’t do. The Plus will leave the phone’s GPS running and track distance while the phone is safely tucked away.
What’s strange is Nintendo staying mum on the device’s actual features instead of marketing them in order to sell more devices. Are they too busy on the Nintendo NX, Super Mario Run and other projects to communicate the features, or are they simply leaving the other things for Niantic to announce either through email or app updates? It’s quite strange for Nintendo to overlook. It would have been in their best interest to market Pokemon Go Plus as they need to stay relevant as much as possible. There are plenty of reports that Pokemon Go usage has already peaked among non-fans and that those that only got in because of the trend are now leaving the game. It would be a shame not to keep them as these people could still get into other Pokemon-related items like the Nintendo 3DS and the Nintendo NX, like my kids who’ll be getting the 3DS for Christmas.
Transformers and Mech Battles
Imagine a car that can’t be towed when parked illegally because it’s standing up. The only option is a crane and a flatbed. That’s because the car is actually transformed into a humanoid robot just like the toys. Provided the whole thing isn’t a hoax, a company in Turkey may have just created life-sized equivalents of The Transformers car toys. But don’t expect Optimus Prime anytime soon.
A company called Letivision made a bunch of real-life transforming prototypes that transform into various BMW vehicles called Letrons. The vehicle looks pretty much like a BMW car until the sides open up as it transforms and stands up to reveal the ‘waist and legs’ and finally the head. The arms and head can move via hydraulics through the remote control. The Letrons, unfortunately, don’t look like they could actually be driven which would be really cool except for safety and roadworthiness issues. These things definitely won’t be so easily towed, but authorities could still install boots.
They’re basically large versions of transforming remote controlled toy cars that started coming out a few years ago wherein the rear becomes the feet and the front folds to become the arms head and torso. These Letrons also can’t walk since the waist and legs are just for aesthetics without any articulation much like older generation Transformers toys. The Letrons come in other models and colors but as of yet no price tag unless directly inquired by Transformers enthusiasts with enough cash to cough up. It would really be cool though if they were at least capable of taking passengers but without a real drive system, they won’t be street legal.
Why would it be a hoax? The internet was full of almost convincing CGs of transforming vehicles a few months before Michael Bay’s first Transformers film. But instead of GIFs, Letivision has a video of the car actually driving in and transforming with a man remotely controlling it in the foreground.
And speaking of transforming robots, an American company called MegaBots are creating the first ever American-made piloted mech robot they simply call the Mark II. Upon seeing the Mark II, you’ll be immediately reminded of the PC game Mechwarrior and its cartoon counterpart Battletech. It starts off as a tank-like vehicle but has a very simple transformation wherein the vehicle stands up unfolding its ‘legs’ with tracks for feet with its arms folding from the sides.
The Mark II is 15 feet tall, weighs 6 tons and requires two people to pilot it. One pilot controls the body while the other is in charge of weapons which include a paint cannon on one arm and several missile launchers that can fire T-shirt ammunition on the other arm. What’s really interesting is that Megabots challenged the first the world’s first giant boarding robot, the Kuratas from Japan.
In contrast to the Mark II, the Kuratas has only one pilot, weighs only 4.5 tons, 4 meters high and relies on four wheels (one on each leg) for mobility. It’s also armed with a 6,000 round per minute BB rotary cannon and a launcher that can fire water bottles. Looks like the robots are in for a wet T-shirt contest instead of a Real Steel type action. The fight should be very interesting once it’s broadcast. Military applications are intriguing.