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As a kid who grew up during the heyday of Pokémon, while I’ve long since kept up with its ever expanding empire, I find it hard not to get roped back into the nostalgia of it all, especially now that technology has evolved so much to the point that interacting with Pokémon is about to become as real and feasible as ever. Without an ounce of shame, I geeked out about Pokémon Go, a mobile app game set to launch in 2016 that will make players real life Pokémon trainers who encounter Pokémon in the outside world. And now, I’m geeking out a bit about Sanoyas Interaction’s Pokémon EXPO Gym.

Dubbed as the first ever, interactive “edutainment” facility for Pokémon, the Pokémon EXPO Gym is set to open in Osaka, Japan on November 19, fulfilling the playground dreams of kids (and grown up 90s kids) across the world. The gym will be part educational experience, part fantasy extravaganza, with visitors being able to learn about the abilities of Pokémon, tips and advice on handling them and training regimens allowing you to hone your skills to become a true Pokémon master. Specifically with an eye on luring in children, the gym hopes to focus and improve upon their communication skills with these superpowered pocket monsters facilitating.

Don’t worry, the gym still has plenty of fun and games to go around for people whose communications skills are just fine, or don’t care to improve them. Arcade-like games such as Charizard’s Battle Coliseum will recreate the experience of the Pokémon gyms in the ubiquitous hand-held games, where you, the learning Pokémon trainer, engage in battle with a gym leader armed with your squad of trained Pokémon in order to defeat them and win a badge to advance on to a Pokémon tournament where your destiny is to become the very best, like no one ever was. Visitors can win rewards at the gym for special Pokémon in the latest wave of Pokémon games.

Sanoyas also plans to launch a corresponding app, Pokémon EXPO Gym Gear, allowing users to keep track of their stats and their ranking at the gym. Passes for the grand opening of the gym were made available on October 31, and were no doubt gobbled up in minutes. Rumor has it the gym will also host some compatible interplay with the Pokémon Go game when it’s released, turning the gym into the makeshift site of many a Pokémon battle between users of the app. While the inner kid within me thinks it’s super cool that a Pokémon gym is about to become a reality, I’ll have to be content with my nostalgia. The trek to Osaka to experience this novelty is only for the die-hard Pokémon fanatic.



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