Now that I’ve got your attention with the unnecessarily dramatic headline, let’s take a step back from the extremes of that statement and look at this game from a more reasonable point of view.
‘Pokémon GO’ is Nintendo’s second (?) big mobile launch after Miimoto and one that has been much more highly anticipated than said predecessor. Announced back in September 2015 with one incredible trailer that promised everything my eight year old self could only dream of, but as reality set in in the following months many people including myself were beset with pangs of disappointment at information of the actual game which wasn’t quite like how its original trailer made it out to be (on hindsight this should have been very much expected). Still I love all things Pokémon (except for the TCG due to a scarring incident as child) and thus remained mostly optimistic for the final product. Two days ago the game finally hit ‘shelves’ and I was ready for my optimism to hopefully pay off.
Fortunately, it did. ‘Pokémon GO’ isn’t my past self’s wish come true but it is nonetheless a fun addictive, exercise (literally) that I’ve had the joy of being a part of.
Now for that one person who’s finally come out from under their rock, a small explanation of what this game is all about.
‘Pokémon GO’ is well…. A game about catching Pokémon in real life. Yes, you heard me right ‘CATCHING POKEMON IN REAL LIFE’. Now, now, don’t expect caterpies to start popping up in your back garden or something of the like, that would be what we call ‘going nuts’. The phenomenon of which I am speaking of is achieved through the use of a ‘simple’ device known as smartphone. Using a combination of the Internet and GPS location, the game will create a map of your surroundings and then populate it with Pokémon native to such habitats. Once this has been done you simply walk around the area (in reality as well as in the game) until those pesky critters start popping up on your phone, at that moment which you simply tap on said critter and if your AR function is on (plus your camera functional) you’ll find yourself staring down the beast (through your phone of course) as it sits on your pavement and happily stares right back at you, taunting you to catch it if you can. Now in this mode you are given a certain number of pokeballs which by the flick of your finger can be rained down upon this beast until it rests safely inside one of them. Each Pokémon has a specific CP (Combat Power) determining how strong it is and each capture also nets you stardust and candies which you can use to power up your Pokémon or evolve them, as well as experience which allows your in-game avatar to level up and thus catch stronger (and rarer) Pokémon. The map is also littered with places marked as PokeStops which when you visit will give you pokeballs, Pokémon eggs and some experience. Also once you reach level 5, you’ll be able to pick one of three teams and start taking on Gyms. Now Gyms are places where you can battle Pokémon set by other teams which on defeating you’ll be given the opportunity to take over said Gym for your own team which is made possible by assigning one of your Pokémon to guard the Gym. Battles unlike the main series take place in real time. You can swipe left or right to dodge incoming attacks and tapping the opposing Pokémon allows you to attack it. Pressing and holding your finger down on the opposing Pokémon allows your Pokémon to perform its special attack. Overall it’s a fairly simple yet intuitive and fun system that suits the game perfectly. So…. that my friends pretty much encapsulates the experience THAT IS ‘Pokémon GO’.
Now to some of you this may not seem all that great and well…… it isn’t the best but trust me when I say that once you give it a shot you’ll find yourselves a very enjoyable yet flawed Pokémon adventure. Like any game before it Pokémon GO has its fair share of missteps. The biggest one being its enormous battery draining capability that’s going to make portable charger companies rich. Other such faults include various bugs such as the undefeatable Pokémon, as well as frequent server issues. At this time of writing there also exists no way to trade Pokémon with other players nor battle them outside of Gyms. Lag issues may also exist depending on your phone and the need for both internet and GPS can’t always be met depending on the place you’re at.
However for all the flaws listed above, I find myself quite enamored with the game and with the various paths it could take to evolve itself. The catching mechanics work well and the appeal of seeing Pokémon on your streets is a strong one for a lot of people. The game’s structure also promotes its player to go out and explore the world something not a lot of us (myself included) would bother doing otherwise. It also promotes slight social interaction as well, working with members of your team to capture as many Gyms as possible and this part will most likely increase in the future as the updates start rolling in.
Pokémon GO may not be the ideal concept I once adhered to but it’s definitely a step in that direction and one that I’m more than happy to support and highly recommend you all do as well.