As announced by Niantic Labs, the next Pokemon GO update’s going to do a lot to improve the mobile app’s player experience. Since the initial heady launch, it’s seen a significant drop-off in daily users – SurveyMonkey reported that the app peaked on July 14th, and has been shedding since (though still boasting user numbers that others would kill to have).
But it’s also been that long since a major content update – the new tracking system isn’t so much new as it is a replacement for the old intensely buggy methodology that threw Niantic Labs into a storm of criticism. Their newest announcement, though, may yet rekindle the nostalgia behind its initial and explosive growth – and hint at the imminent release of Generation 2 content.
The Buddy Pokemon system is a direct callback to Pokemon Yellow. The Walking Pokemon function back then made the game analogous to the first Pokemon anime season – players were able to interact with Pikachu, their only starter Pokemon for that edition, and see its emotional responses to events and trust in the trainer. While the Buddy system in GO doesn’t quite emulate that sort of responsiveness, it does have mechanics that encourage interaction – namely:
You will be able to pick your favorite Pokémon from your collection to become your buddy, opening up unique in-game rewards and experiences. Buddy Pokémon will appear alongside your Trainer avatar on your profile screen, adding helpful bonuses such as awarding Candy for walking together. You’ll also have the ability to change your Buddy Pokémon at any time.
It’s worth noting that the re-release of Generation 2, HeartGold and SoulSilver, fully fleshed out the walking system and integrated it into the game proper. It allowed all Pokemon to accompany a trainer in their journey and interact with the environment – Fire Pokemon aren’t too pleased to be made to walk past a shoreline, for instance, due to getting their feet wet.
If this holds true with GO as well (supposedly, the iOS implementation is out, but us poor Android users’ll have to wait), then the Buddy system could be construed as a hint that Generation 2 content is going to be out sooner rather than later. Just as Yellow as a bridge between Generation 1 and the original release of Gold and Silver.
Which means we get our Cyndaquils back soon. Hell yeah.