What Pokémon Go can teach us about localisation

Pokémon has once again taken the world by storm since the release of Pokémon Go for iPhone and Android Devices. Catching Pokémon has never been so much fun and Pokémon is quite literally back on the map.

When Nintendo originally released the Pokémon games for the Gameboy in 1996, I remember how quickly it became engrained into everyone’s childhood, from the Pokémon video games, trading cards and anime series (I’m still able to recite the Pokémon theme song).

One concept that has stood out in the Pokémon series since its release 20 years ago is the inclusion of several exclusive Pokémon for each edition of the game, Pokémon Red and Blue, Pokémon X and Y etc.

Pokémon and localisation

Releasing several different versions of the Pokémon Go app to achieve this just wouldn’t be practical. But rumour has it, software development company Niantic have still managed to achieve this exclusivity by making 4 Pokémon only available in certain continents in the real world, also being referred to as regional rare Pokémon.

This feature highlights how cultural aspects local to particular regions are being used as an engagement device – this is localisation in a nutshell.

The list of these 4 localised Pokémon is included below, you can see where the inspiration for the comes from and why it has been chose for each continent.

Farfetch'd Pokemon
Pokémon: #083 – Farfetch’d
Species: Wild Duck
Type: Flying, Normal
Trivia: In Japan, the Pokémon “Farfetch’d” is known as “Kamonegi”. Kamonegi is short form for “Kamo ga negi o shotte kuru” which translates to “A duck has come along carrying a leek on its back”. Since duck soup is made with leeks, a duck carrying a leek, or “Kamonegi”, is an everyday Japanese saying meaning ‘a stroke of luck’.

Europe


Mr Mime Pokemon
Pokémon: #122 – Mr. Mime
Species: Barrier
Type: Psychic, Fairy
Trivia: The official Pokédex states that Mr. Mime is a master of pantomime, convincing audiences that unseeable objects actually exist. In Germany, Mr. Mime’s name is localised to “Pantimos”, which comes from the word pantomime.

Australia


Kangaskhan Pokemon
Pokémon: #115 – Kangaskhan
Species: Parent
Type: Normal
Trivia: No prizes for seeing why Kangaskhan can only be found in Australia, with the name and design being heavily inspired by the Kangaroo.

North America


Tauros Pokemon
Pokémon: #128 – Tauros
Species: Wild Bull
Type: Normal
Trivia: The design of Tauros is based on the North American Bison, and the name comes from the astrological sign Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”).

Pokémon on a global scale

Exclusive Pokémon local to each continent is a really cool, engaging feature and one that will likely be expanded upon over time, to further drive in-app purchases and boost app downloads across global markets.

In the future, it may even be possible to trade Pokémon with other trainers from around the world, if such a feature is added to the Pokémon Go app.

For now, they will likely remain the prized possession of those lucky enough to catch them on their holidays to the region.



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