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Leading Japanese AI developer collaborating on franchise’s second mobile title, in which you and your team of Pokémon have to think together.

After months of anticipation, in a few weeks field testing will begin for Pokémon Go, the very first mobile game to be announced for the Pokémon franchise. But with surprisingly little advance fanfare, The Pokémon Company has revealed that it has another smartphone title in the works, and one that’ll be ready for the general public to play before the start of summer.

The surprise free-to-play mobile game is called Pokémon Ko-Master, and there’s already a teaser video for it.

The title’s “Ko” is short for jinko chino, which is Japanese for “artificial intelligence.” For the project, The Pokémon Company is teaming up with Heroz, a Japanese AI developer which has created programs capable of besting professional players in shogi (a board game sometimes called “Japanese chess”).

▼ The Pokémon Ko-Master logo

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Details are still scarce, but the developers are promising a game that combines the traditional Pokémon play mechanics of capturing and training Pocket Monsters to fight against each other with strategic board game elements similar to shogi or go. Before beginning a match, the player assembles a “deck,” which is sort of a misleading name since the Pokémon on your team are represented on-screen by figures of your cute combatants.

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Cryptically, The Pokémon Company’s official announcement also says that payers will build their deck by collecting figures, with the statement followed by a picture of what appear to by physical models of their respective Pokémon, implying that Pokémon Ko-Master may require such toys in order to experience all the game has to offer, somewhat like Nintendo’s amiibo, or the Skylanders or Disney Infinity lines. If so, it would add another layer of wordplay to the title of Pokémon Ko-Master, as koma is the Japanese word for a board game piece.

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Unlike other Pokémon games, it sounds as if the player won’t have direct or complete control over his Pocket Monsters, which explains why Heroz is involved. After building a deck and determining the overall strategy, the Pokémon will be controlled by the game’s AI. They won’t always have machine-like precision, though. Sometimes they’ll need the player to bail them out, while at others they’ll cover for the player’s mistakes. The aim, the developers say, is to create the feeling of fighting together with your Pokémon.

In another departure from traditional Pokémon competitions, the objective isn’t to beat your opponent’s Pocket Monsters into submission, but rather to enter a goal area your adversary’s team is trying to keep you out of.

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Pokémon Ko-Master is scheduled for release for both Android and iOS devices this spring.

Source: The Pokémon Company via Hachima Kiko
Featured image: The Pokémon Company (edited by RocketNews24)
Top image: YouTube/PokemonCoJp
Insert images: YouTube/PokemonCoJp, The Pokémon Company (edited by RocketNews24)