Poor Digimon. No matter how much the original game resembled Tamagotchi more than anything else, or how the cartoon often took a way darker turn than anything Ash Ketchum ever got into, it will always be seen as a poor man's Pokémon. At least to Western audiences. Back and its home country of Japan, and even moreso in China, Digimon thrives as a franchise on its own merits. It even has its own mobile game that is nothing like Pokémon GO.
In order to emphasize just how much Digimon Encounters is totally not Pokémon GO, Bandai Namco released a live-action Chinese trailer for the recently-released game.
The big draw is seeing the Digimon rendered in the real world alongside humans. They do a pretty good job even though they probably weren't working with the budget of something like Detective Pikachu. Although unlike Detective Pikachu, which went for a controversially realistic set of scaled and furry beats, the Digimon Encounters ad keeps a somewhat artificial feel to the creatures. Which totally fits considering they are digital monsters.
Sadly, the ad also mirrors a lot of what we saw in Pokémon GO trailers. There's the wonder of seeing these fictional monsters pop up in real life. The girl on the bench looks on excitedly as her Digi-egg hatches, in a very similar manner to the way eggs hatch in Pokémon GO. Then everyone gathers together with their monster friends just as an enemy appears. You know, the same way a crowd formed to battle Mewtwo in Pokémon GO's first trailer?
It's not until the last fifteen seconds or so that the ad shows the truly unique features of Digimon Enounters. Small bits of gameplay feature a tamer running around the digital landscape with their partner monster, as well as what looks to be turn-based battles that allow the player to use three Digimon simultaneously.
It's unfortunate that this ad doesn't do more to sell the unique features of Digimon. This game and particular, and the franchise as a whole, really hit some of those sweet spots Pokémon misses. How I would love more strategic turn-based battles instead of the tap-fest Pokémon GO offers. Yes Pokémon GO's PvP is a step in the right direction, but Digimon Encounter's battle system already looks more complex and the game is barely a month old.
Also, Digimon Encounters is only available in China. So it looks like Digimon won't be shedding its status of diet Pokémon in the West anytime soon.