The Pokemon Go TCG Set Could Be The Coolest Expansion Since E-Readers

The Pokemon Company announced a Pokemon Go expansion for the Pokemon Trading Card Game this week, and though we’ve only been given very few details, I’m excited by all the possibilities. There’s so many cool ways that Pokemon cards could integrate with Pokemon Go, from AR functionality and wild encounters to gifts and other in-game items. It’s never wise to get your hopes up about the potential of a Pokemon game, but I’d love to see the TCG make the most out of this crossover.

All we know about the Pokemon Go expansion right now is that it’s coming this summer. The trailer published on Pokemon’s website reveals the pack art, which features Mewtwo, Pikachu, Professor Willow, and several other Pokemon in cities, neighborhoods, and against the background of the familiar Pokemon Go in-game map. It certainly has the look of Pokemon Go, but it doesn’t tell us much about what makes the expansion special.

There’s a lot of cool things Pokemon could do with this set. Using Pokemon Go’s augmented reality features, there could be a way to interact with the cards virtually. You could use your phone’s camera to bring the Pokemon on the cards to life, or even to turn the cards themselves into 3D environments you can look around in. Nintendo has done something similar before with the AR Cards that came with the 3DS, which would produce 3D models of Mario and Kirby when you pointed your 3DS camera at them.

If AR integration isn’t in the cards, figuratively and literally, there might be some other ways to interact with them via QR codes like the ones that come in normal Pokemon TCG packs that give players digital packs to open in Pokemon TCGO. Instead of giving digital packs, the Pokemon Go set could provide gifts or other items that could be used in game. Poke Balls and Raid Passes would be great, cosmetic items would be even better.

The best thing we could hope for would be actual encounters with wild Pokemon in Pokemon Go based on the cards in your pack. If your rare (assuming these packs have a single rare card like normal packs) is a Charizard, then you should be able to somehow scan the card in Pokemon Go for a chance to catch a Charizard. Bump up the shiny rates just a touch, and the Pokemon Go expansion will be flying off the shelves this summer.

This isn’t even farfetched. Base sets, like 2020’s Sword & Shield, is always thematically tied to the games, but there have been plenty of ways that Pokemon cards have functionally crossed over with the games too. The Pokemon TCG had video game integration 20 years ago via the e-Reader on Game Boy Advance. Expansions like Expedition, Aquapolis, and Skyridge featured cards with barcodes that could be scanned in the e-Reader to unlock mini-games, animations, and special attacks. E-Reader cards were printed for seven expansions and were massively popular in Japan, even though the device mostly failed in the states. Since 2011, every pack of Pokemon cards has come with a code for a digital pack.

Realistically, The Pokemon Go expansion will probably just feature normal cards with Pokemon Go-themed artwork. If we’re lucky, the Pokemon will be photographed in front of famous buildings in recognizable cities, but based on the pack art in the trailer, I’m not counting on it. To love Pokemon is to always see it fall short of its full potential. This Pokemon Go set could be e-Reader 2.0 if it leverages the technology and gameplay that makes Pokemon Go so special, or it could just be a regular set with unique art. I’m pre-ordering a booster case either way, so you can blame me if turns out to be bad.

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