April Fools’ Day has already arrived in Japan and as expected, Google has a deluge of jokes and Easter eggs to check out online. You can check out our constantly-updating list here.
One of our early favorites is the new Pokémon Challenge for Google Maps which, at long last, lets anyone with a smartphone or tablet earn the all-important title of Pokémon Master.
From an iOS or Android device, you simply need to launch the Google Maps app and tap the ‘Search’ option at the top of the screen. You’ll see a new ‘Press Start’ option and a blue Pokéball icon, signalling the classic quest that awaits every aspiring Pokémon trainer.
In our quick playtest, Google bounced us across to the Pokémon Lab, suitably located at the CERN research facility in Switzerland. As you swipe around the map, you’ll see colorful sprites for individual Pokémon, which you can then catch and add to your Pokédex for safekeeping.
There are some nice throwbacks to the original games too; the Pokédex has full artwork for each monster and when you tap on a Pokémon the classic phrase ‘a wild Pokémon appears’ is displayed prominently at the bottom of the screen.
Presumably Google has Nintendo’s blessing to put all of this together. The promotional video above shows off an incredible AR mode similar to Pokémon Snap on the Nintendo 64, but that’s almost certainly just Google having a bit of fun. We can all dream though, right?