Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy is hoping the device will capture young Pokémon trainers’ imaginations and allow them to feel like they’re part of the battle. More than that, it wants to build a new collectible industry around the peripheral.
The Z Ring wrist strap comes with a single crystal, which creates a specific combination of light and sound when a certain in-game move is completed. However, it’s only one of 18 different crystals, all of which can be collected from purchasable crystal packs. Their inclusion is random, so clearly the idea is to buy more than you might otherwise need and trade with friends and family.
That’s perhaps this device’s biggest Pokémon-like inspiration.
Although aimed mostly at the Japanese market, where the powerful Pokémon fandom would likely eat up even a device with as few practical uses as the Z Ring, an international release is also planned. We don’t have a date when that might happen, but we know they will debut on November 18 in Japan, and Kotaku did dig up some general pricing, which should give us a rough idea of what it will cost. The Z Ring itself is said to retail for 2,600 Yen, or just over $25. It will come with a single crystal, or with a pack of six if you wish to spend up to $44. Crystal booster packs will be available in packs of three that cost $6.
As much as these devices seem rather superfluous for anyone who isn’t bothered about their wrist lighting up, there is the potential for added function in the future. The official Takara Tomy website for the Z Ring lists a number of “coming soon,” features, so perhaps we’ll see some expanded function in the future.