Catching 'em all isn't your only augmented-reality gaming option.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
To call Pokemon Go a phenomenon is to call this year's presidential election mildly controversial. The game is all anyone's talking about (thank goodness, something other than the election!) and all anyone's playing.
Of course, there are reasons for that. For most players, it's their first taste of augmented reality (AR): Game content overlaid on real-world images as displayed on your phone. There's also the fun of actually getting outside to do something, to say nothing of the fitness benefits that come from walking, running and/or biking to your next destination. (Please, please don't drive a car while chasing monsters. The life you take could be my own.)
Thankfully, Pokemon Go isn't the only AR game in town. Whether the "kiddie" nature of Go doesn't appeal to you or you're just ready for new challenges, there are lots of other AR experiences worth trying.
Think AR is new? BallStrike has been around since 2012. This exercise game (arguably better on an iPad than an iPhone, as a bigger screen is easier to see) puts you in front of the camera, where you jump, twist, kick and hit virtual balls as they appear. It's a free game, though the full version costs 99 cents (about $1.30 AU and £0.80).
From the creators of Zombies, Run!, The Walk aims to gamify walking, or give you non-monster incentive to get up off the couch. It's really a phone-based fitness tracker, but with a plot that unfolds as you go. Every time you walk, you unlock more of the story. Want to find out what happens next? Go for another walk. The app is available for $3, AU$4.50 and £2.30.
No list of AR games would be complete without Ingress, which was arguably the single most popular AR title until Pokemon Go came along. No surprise there: The developer of the former also created the latter! Ingress is all about getting out and exploring the streets, this time with the fate of the world in your hands and two factions battling for supremacy. Think Risk, with the world as your game board. Ingress is free, with in-app purchases available.
Tired of hunting monsters? Hunt ghosts for a change! That's the goal of SpecTrek, which operates very similarly to Pokemon Go -- move around the real world to catch 'em all -- but with ghosts as your prey. When you hold your phone parallel to the ground, you see a map to guide you. Raise it up and the camera kicks in for ghost-busting AR goodness. The game sells for $2.49 U.S. (about $3.30 AU and £1.90).
This clever puzzle game turns your desk (or any other flat surface) into a mini-arena, where you collect objects and work to guide your robot to the exit. Warp Runner has little in common with Pokemon Go, but it's very cool -- and free to boot.
If there's a better use for AR, I haven't found it. Zombies Everywhere is exactly what it sounds like: Virtual zombies that appear in the "real world" when you point your phone's camera all around. Luckily, your armed with virtual weapons as well. The game sells for 99 cents (about $1.30 AU and £0.80).