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Pichu's to the rescue for 'Pokemon Go'

Smartphone game adds more monsters to counter waning popularity

Pichu, left, and Togepi are two characters that will newly appear in "Pokemon Go" from Dec. 13. ©2016 Niantic, Inc. ©2016 Pokémon. ©1995-2016 Nintendo / Creatures Inc. / GAME FREAK inc.

OSAKA -- As initial enthusiasm for "Pokemon Go" fades, developers of the blockbuster smartphone game added new characters on Tuesday to stimulate fresh interest. 

In a playfully suggestive update posted on Monday on the official Japanese website, the development team said Pichu, Togepi and other characters that originally appeared in the Pokemon Gold and Silver versions "may be found" and encouraged gamers to go hunting. In the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Gold and Silver are second-generation games that were developed for stand-alone consoles. 

The message said players can obtain new characters by letting their eggs hatch, and Pikachu will be wearing a red cap until Dec. 29 to mark the holiday season. 

Characters appearing in "Pokemon Go" had been limited to those from the first-generation releases of the console-based version.

More characters will be introduced over the next few months, insiders said. 

After taking much of the world by storm, the game's popularity is waning. According to U.S. research company App Annie, "Pokemon Go" ranked 10th and fifth respectively in the Japanese and U.S. game sales rankings at Apple's App Store, down from initial highs. 

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