After three years and change, no one seems to be able to knock Pokémon GO off its augmented reality throne. Zombies, dinosaurs, and ghosts have all met defeat at the hands of the pocket monsters. Heck, not even the world's most popular wizard and Pokémon GO's developer can replicate the original's success.
Maybe this is a job for Hello Kitty. That's right, the patron saint of tweens around the world is taking its shot at Pokémon GO.
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On Thursday, developer Bublar Group announced Hello Kitty AR: Kawaii World, a location-based game created in partnership with the character's founder, Japan's Sanrio, and built on Amazon Game Tech's platform.
Bublar anticipates testing the game in select geographic markets during the first half of 2020 in preparation for a launch during Summer 2020. In the meantime, Hello Kitty fans and gamers can pre-register for the game at its website to receive updates and be considered for participation in the beta version.
"We are now able to direct players and fans to our landing page for Hello Kitty AR: Kawaii World," said Maria A Grimaldi, the CEO of Bublar Group, in a statement. "This is the start of creating awareness about the exciting location-based mobile game we have in production pipeline. We are happy to include Amazon Game Tech and their cloud infrastructure."
Gameplay details are sparse, but, based on the teaser trailer and website, the game carries all the hallmarks of AR-powered location-based games. Players will be able to collect virtual items in the real world and connect with friends in the game to play together. In addition, players will be able to cultivate their own Kawaii Gardens and explore those created by others, but it is unclear if this means that the game will include multiplayer features, such as those enabled by Spatial Anchors in Minecraft Earth.
Does Hello Kitty have a chance to succeed where others have fallen short? Like Pokémon, Hello Kitty has its roots in Japanese culture. The brand is a cornerstone of the immensely popular kawaii (the Japanese word for "cute") culture in Japan, and the inclusion of Kawaii in the game's title is no coincidence.
"Since her debut in Japan in 1974, Hello Kitty has inspired generations of people around the world with her positive message of friendship and kindness," said Jiro Kishimura, a managing director at Sanrio. "With this game from Bublar, our dedicated fan base can play with her and the Sanrio characters through their smartphones wherever they are in a mixed reality experience. We are happy to continue sharing the joy of Hello Kitty and the Kawaii lifestyle."
Perhaps this gives Hello Kitty the secret ingredient to challenge the mobile AR king for its crown?