The words, “Gotta catch em’ all”, never had a more adventurous meaning. Pokémon Go is an Alternate Reality (AR) mobile game that allows a player the ability to discover Pokémon in the world around them.
By using Google maps and GPS technology, the game tracks your movements in real time and location. As you move around the places where you live and visit, your smartphone can vibrate to let you know when you’re near a Pokémon. Once you’ve encountered a Pokémon, take aim on your smartphone’s touch screen and throw a Pokéball to catch it—but be careful, or it might run away! Also look for PokéStops located at interesting places—such as public art installations, historical markers, and monuments—where you can collect more Pokéballs and other items.
Character creation in the game is limited to selecting either a male or female trainer with a small selection of clothing to set you apart from the others playing this game. The game does have a built in micro-transaction system based on Pokécoins that can be purchased with real world money and can be used to purchase additional clothing options, as well as, items that can be used during your journey to catching your Pokémon. Just like other Pokémon games, you are given the option of choosing a starting Pokémon. The Pokémon you are given as your first choice is Charmander, Bulbasaur or Squirtle. Just tap on which one you want and it will take you into the capture screen. I know you are probably thinking, “What about Pikachu?” Well fear not, for there is a way to get Pikachu. Just be prepared with patience and be ready for a lot of walking. Here’s the “secret” – walk away from Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle. Walk away, until you can’t see them any longer on your phone app, and they’ll respawn in front of you. The fourth time they respawn, Pikachu will appear next to them. Tap Pikachu and toss your Pokéball to capture him, and the other three Pokémon will disappear.
The object of the game from that point is simple: wander around in the real world to find Pokémon and capture them by touching the Pokémon with your finger to enter the capture screen. Once in the capture screen, fans of Pokémon will find it familiar to the other Pokémon games. You are faced with the Pokémon and in the lower portion of the screen you will see your Pokéball. Also on this screen you will have the ability to choose which Pokéball you want to use and any treats that can be used on the Pokémon to make it easier to capture. There is also an AR (Alternate Reality) toggle to allow you the ability to turn off AR. This gives players the choice of either having a static background when attempting to capture the Pokémon or have the Pokemon appear as if it were in the real world using the smartphone camera.
With each Pokémon captured, you are provided with both candy specific to the Pokémon captured and stardust. These not only power up your Pokémon, but also help you evolve your Pokémon into their more powerful forms. This means you need to capture as many of the same Pokémon as possible in order to get enough candy and stardust to evolve them. To keep from filling up your inventory, which is limited, you are given the option to transfer Pokémon to the Professor for additional candy.
As you progress in the game, you are given the option to join one of the three factions in the game: Instinct, Mystic or Valor. There is no real advantage of joining one over the others except for the number advantage. There may be more Mystic players for instance in your geographic area. This can give you all a number advantage when you are joining in for the gym battles. Speaking of gym battles, dotted across the landscape are gyms that can be taken over for a faction. If you come across a gym that is controlled by another faction, you can initiate a battle with the Pokémon stored in the gym and with enough wins take over the gym for your faction. You will also find Pokéstops in your travels that provide you a means of replenishing your Pokéballs and give you other items used to help in catching Pokémon (remember art installations, historic markers, etc…).
While the game does have a large fan base of those who love Pokémon, it has also won over enthusiasts who enjoy the game for getting them out of the house. Unfortunately, it has been plagued with crash issues, disconnection issues, updates wanted by the fan base, and incidents against players. Server crashes have decreased, but the game is dependent on your wifi-and GPS connections and that won’t change. There have been updates such as trainer trading and battles and additional Pokémon from Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh regions (to total of 424 Pokémon available to capture) – things long sought after by the fan-base. Also, Niantic has been active in trying to address the safety issues by adding warning messages in-game about being aware of your surroundings and not driving while playing the game. The game will actually stop if it thinks you are driving.
Things New Players Should Know:
While the game is fun at the start and does make you actually get out of the house and travel around to play, it tends to lose its appeal after playing it for a short while. The reason I stopped playing was that while the game encourages you to travel around locally to catch Pokémon, there are some creatures which are only found in other places around the world. So, a player will never be able to catch every Pokémon out there unless they are willing to travel to other states or even other countries. not everyone has this luxury. This has given rise to the development of applications that shift your GPS to any location around the world to catch the ones specific to that area. yes, this is cheating and players can be banned for using these apps. But the game design actually seems to encourage this behavior or reckless behavior in people willing to gamble to get rare Pokémon. Another reason I quit? The over-abundance of common types of Pokémon. I couldn’t count the times I spent hours roaming around the area only to be overrun by Pidgey and Rattata Pokémon.
If you want a game that gets you outside and has regular updates and an active community – Pokémon Go is entertaining and something the fans of Pokémon will enjoy. Just know that until the developers can figure out how to improve on it, there is a lack of balance where the Pokémon are concerned.
Suggestions for the Developers:
Recommendations that I would have for the developer would to increase the rotation in Pokémon locations to allow players the opportunity to capture all the Pokémon currently available. Make it challenging, sure… but don’t eliminate that possibility. Also, it would be helpful to increase the amount of uncommon Pokémon appearing in the world or provide other ways to evolve Pokémon. Case in point, I played and traveled around for months and in that time only came across a limited number of Bulbasaurs and Squirtles – so neither of those have made it to their final evolution. It became tedious and boring, so I moved on.