Of the very many Pokémon games in circulation at the moment, perhaps Pokémon Smile is the one you’re not so aware of. Announced in June last year, then released that very same day, it is an AR mobile app designed to get kids to brush their teeth properly. Oh, and it’s really, really good. Some 17 months later, The Pokémon Company finally remembered it exists, and have given it an update.
Newly arrived to the oral hygiene-focused child-manipulation application are Smeargle, Ludicolo, Mime Jr., and Dedenne, the latter only just showing up in Pokémon Go last week. There are also some tweaks and bug fixes, along with individual settings for each user. Big thanks to Nintendo Life for catching this one.
It’s pretty brilliant! Pokémon Smile has you (or your kids, but no judgement here) staring into your phone’s screen, where your mouth appears covered in cartoon bacteria and trapped Pokémon, and only brushing is going to save them. Do a thorough job, and you could catch that Pokémon and add it to your collection.
As anyone with kids knows, teeth brushing is a daily battle for at least some portion of their childhood. For Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett, it was one that was plaguing (plaquing?) his life, until Smile’s release last summer. The combination of affirming persistent use, requiring a certain length of time brushing, and the rewarding of stickers, Pokémon and AR hats, got his brats brushing.
Being reminded of it, I’m installing it as soon as I’m done typing. While my seven-year-old doesn’t make a fuss about brushing his teeth, he is incapable of the concentration required to keep doing it unprompted. Left to his own devices the toothbrush will just be dangling out of his mouth after seven and a half seconds, him now off chasing a moth or something. But Pokémon remain a fascination, and I’m definitely checking out if this can encourage him to do a more thorough job.
Also, I’m bloody well going to give it a go myself. I hate brushing my teeth. I find it one of the most boring things possible to do, and even as I read Private Eye, pegged to the bathroom wall, I’m still driven to distraction by the mundanity of the process. (Yeah, yeah, I’ve not got my obvious ADHD diagnosed, no you shut up.) Honestly, the idea of freeing some monsters and unlocking meaningless targets sounds a damned fine incentive for me as much as the boy.