Photo/IllutrationA "Pokemon Go" player finds a pokemon. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

The “Pokemon Go” craze has been attributed to bringing the real world to the imaginary one of the two-decade-old video game franchise. However, prominent features that fueled the long-running success are noticeably absent in the smartphone app.

Although the Pokemon games continued to set precedents for today’s Internet society, the lack of player-to-player interactions and a sense of devotion to the actual monsters may be reasons why people are saying the “Pokemon Go” boom has already gone bust.

The initial development of Pokemon came from a personal childhood experience.

“The origin of the idea was insect collecting,” video game designer Satoshi Tajiri has said. “I wanted to recreate the experience of passionately going after insects.”

In 1996, the first installments, “Pokemon Red” and “Pokemon Green,” were released, with 151 species. Players serve as Pokemon Trainers to capture and raise the “pocket monsters” by exploring urban and natural environments in the video game universe.

“Pokemon Go” had the same number of species when the app was released. One of the goals also remains the same: collecting all Pokemon to complete an encyclopedia or Pokedex.

Akito Inoue, a specially appointed professor at Kansai University who is well-versed in game designing, described a feature that helped the original Pokemon games to take off.

“What was new was that it made it possible for players to trade Pokemon and battle with each other with a communication cable connecting their consoles,” he said.

The Pokemon games were released for the Game Boy handheld console. The communication function, which had received little attention until then, enabled players to trade monsters and have them fight in team battles.

The simultaneously released “Red” and “Green” editions had different Pokemon appearance rates to encourage trading between players.

Having sold more than 200 million copies worldwide, Pokemon was literally a game changer.

“Households used to have a single gaming console, but (Pokemon) accelerated the change of usage style from one console per household to one per person,” said Yusuke Koyama, a Shibaura Institute of Technology professor and expert in video games.

“Red” and “Green” brought siblings and parents together in playing Pokemon. Friends started competing against each other. And soon players felt it necessary to carry the gaming device all the time for trades or battles.

The transition was similar to what happened to telephones.

“It is also fair to say that it was a multiplayer online game before the advent of the Internet because you can’t complete the encyclopedia unless you communicate (with other players),” Koyama said.

So far, trading does not exist in “Pokemon Go.” So filling in the Pokedex requires walking around in hopes that you come across a rare Pokemon or one hatches from an incubated egg.

The Pokemon games also placed importance on face-to-face communication with others. This sense of shared intimacy between players appealed to children, the professor added.

Another major characteristic of Pokemon is that there are no other Pokemon but the one raised by the player.

Although the Pokemon disappears from the player’s console when it is traded, it remains registered under the “parent’s name.”

“Pokemon Go” allows players to capture and keep hundreds of monsters. Weaker or redundant Pokemon that are transferred to the “professor” to create space for other monsters simply disappear forever.

With Pokemon, players can keep their consciousness in the real world while capturing, raising, trading and fighting Pokemon in the imaginary world, according to Inoue.

Although “Pokemon Go” created a worldwide craze by having Pokemon emerge in the real world, the app has yet to have a system for trading and interpersonal battling, which makes players feel more attached to their Pokemon.