Pokémon was first released with its Green and Red version in Japan on February 27th 1996 for the Nintendo Gameboy. At this time creator Satoshi Tajiri never knew that his hobby of catching insects was going to change the scope of the world, not just the world of videogames.
Pokémon has a massive cult following that has spread like wild fire with multiple games in the series, movies, tv shows, merchandising and more. It’s a phenomenon that most just can’t understand and honestly I couldn’t explain it to you either.
Since it’s inception Pokémon’s world of hunting for and training strange creatures has taken the world by storm. So now with the recent release of Pokémon Go it would appear that same world has been hit with what could possibly be one of the biggest mobile hits of all time. Pokémon Go has not only changed the mobile game genre but has also changed what people thought about what ‘Augmented Reality’ could be.
In my opinion Pokémon Go is a game that mixes the best parts of both Geocaching and Ingress, and merges them into this neatly tightened bundle.
Its now July 6th at 6 a.m. and I get a message from one of my buddies. “Hey man you see Pokémon Go is out now??” I’m like no. So he sends me a link and I start my download. Immediately I begin to reminisce on being a 12 year old kid when Pokémon first came out. I remembered being in elementary/middle school sitting on the playground at lunch time comparing Pokémon catches with my friends on our gameboys. I thought about running around the school yard playing with friends, throwing imaginary Pokéballs and trying to catch imaginary Pokémon.
I think back on all those great made up battles we would have together, how everyone wanted to catch Pokémon in real life and now for our inner child those dreams are somewhat a reality and now I think to myself “FINALLY I can really catch them all”.
Pokémon Go is here and this mobile game for all intents and purposes is a late 90’s Kids wet dream.
It’s hard to explain how the game works to be honest. Pokémon Go uses your phones GPS along with Google maps which randomly generates Pokémon in your area. It ranks Pokémon from common, to uncommon, rare, and legendary.
When I first started playing (after I got passed the dreaded servers are down screen) I thought I would play the game the way Geochacing plays. Geochaching is a gps game that you can play on your phone as well but rather than find Augmented Reality characters, its a worldwide scavenger hunt where you find boxes or as they like to call them Geocaches that are full of real life loot. For Pokémon Go Geochaching uses your phones GPS to find your location and show you caches in your general area to find. These caches are mostly found in wooded areas and trails.
I thought that I would come across more rare or uncommon Pokémon in wooded trails or rural areas but this wasn’t the case. The more off grid you are the harder it is for you to find Pokémon. You will have better odds finding Pokémon in more populated areas such as schools, churches, parks, etc. This was a bit of a surprise to me since in the television show and the games some of the rarest Pokémon are found in forests and wooded areas. So for the first few days I wasn’t catching anything but a cold.
Once I made way into areas with more hustle and bustle I found I was having better luck “catching them all”. Please note that your ranking also dictates what types of Pokémon will show up. The higher your rank the better your odds are to find those rare or Legendary Pokémon.
You also have Pokéstops, the blue locations on your mini map which show you a little photo of a land mark in that area . This is where a I felt like I was playing something akin to a little wheel of fortune mini game. To start you spin the landmark photo to get more Pokéballs, eggs, along with other items such as heals ups, revives, and potions. I found that this is the best place to get free stuff. Pokémon Go does have micro-transactions but if you are a frequent visitor of Pokéstops you won’t need to buy as many in game items as you would think. If you are at one of these hot spots you can also use some incense potion which attracts Pokémon to your location.
Generally you don’t have to waste any since in most cases as there are chaps that may have already used an incense and you can just piggy back off of them. Just hang and wait and see a variety of Pokémon come into that area. Once you have a Pokémon pop up you can catch them with a simple flick of your finger. But beware you do have Pokémon that break out of Pokéballs so don’t just think a simple flick will be enough to catch them all. You may go through quite a few Pokéballs in your efforts to catch them, especially when it comes to some of the legendary Pokémon. You also have the ability to hatch eggs using incubators that you can buy or find at these Pokéstops.
Also, don’t just think you can sit on one area and build your collection of Pokémon. The key to the game is going out and exploring your area. After all this is a game built on exploration as much as it is trying to catch them all.
The original Pokémon games and series had a total of 151 Pokémon to catch , along with the famous hidden Pokémon Mew. According to the Pokédex within Pokémon Go there are only 133 to catch so I’m not sure if this number includes the legendary Pokémon or not . If it doesn’t that would mean you could hit that 151 marker by finding those legendary Pokémon but it’s unknown at this point. The only thing we do know is that there are a total of 131 Pokémon to catch as well as 250 storage slots for those you have caught.
Pokémon Go at this point is a global phenomenon and the best part of this game has to be the community in my opinion. The Pokémon Go community is so nice and helpful and they have no problem showing or telling you where to find particular Pokémon in the area or even drop an incense to attract them closer.
Not only that but there have been massive meet ups to go hunting, with groups of people full of both young and old trainers meeting at parks, theme parks, malls , and churches to catch them all together. You also have local businesses giving away free stuff like slices of pizza if you are a certain trainer level or just making Pokéstops in general. This game has even brought back life some of the local stores in my area that were on the verge of going out of business. Seems like a win win right ?
But these meets also have caused some uproar in peoples communities as well. Sometimes people seem to be so into the game that they don’t take a second to think of the real world environment around them. Most recently there was a massive shut down of a major road in New York next to Central Park because people were just leaving their cars to run and catch a Legendary that popped up in the park. Trainers going into random back yards and being shot at according to reports, trespassing on government and private properties and sadly even a few incidents resulting in deaths.
Some have even walked on historical landmarks like the Civil War grave yard in Gettysburg VA, where it’s a federal offense just to place foot in the grave yard. Some trainers have even found dead bodies on their quests and there have been reports of people being hit by cars and even dying playing the game.
People have been going to great and sometimes life changing risks in efforts to catch Pokémon. It’s almost as if people aren’t realizing what they are doing or the consequences of their actions but should keep in mind that hell it’s just a game and losing your life isn’t worth it.
As I close my review of Pokémon Go I should note the app itself is a battery hog. It literally has no problem draining your phone after a few short hours of use with my battery lasting less than 4 hours on a full charge when I play. Some may think that’s not such a big deal but honestly it is when you have a battery that’s been tested for a 48 hour life. “So Julio, why not use battery saver you ask? Good question but here is my dilemma.
My phone always has the battery save feature on and the problem with this is that the app constantly uses the GPS from your phone. So when the screen dims by default the phones battery saver disables the GPS. Because of this you will not get the vibration alert in your pocket if a Pokémon is close by. I always went back to the app only to find that my phone was constantly looking for a GPS signal and I couldn’t understand what the issue was until I disabled the battery saver.
The app itself has a battery saver but it’s still unknown what it does to the battery or even if it skews battery consumption. I played with it for some time and didn’t notice any differences between the two.
While this game does so much right it also falls short in some of the most critical areas of childhood nostalgia. For example, like fighting random Pokémon or fighting other trainers in the wild. One of the pillars of a Pokémon game and the television show was being able to level up and fight random wild Pokémon as well as their trainers. With Pokémon Go you can’t fight other trainers randomly because you are limited to fighting in gyms only .
This is a bit of a downer in my opinion as some of us have grown up accustomed to leveling up your Pokémon with random fight encounters. In Pokémon Go leveling up is limited by feeding your Pokémon candy and using star dust but you can only get the proper candy to level up by finding similar or same Pokémon and breaking them down. This brings a bit of a hunting grind if you want to level up and evolve that Pikachu to Rychu and those other rare or Legendary Pokémon. Who knows when you will run into another legendary that’s of the same type?
They also need to update so you don’t have so many of the same Pokémon in one area. You don’t want to spend your time walking around for an hour and only finding a bunch of Weedles or Spearows. You also don’t have the ability to trade which seems like a missed opportunity since it would bring the community even closer than it is to trade off Pokémon for ones that you need. I’m sure Niantic will have an update for this later on and if they don’t have it in the pipeline they need to add it. I think this would make the game even bigger than it is by adding the combining hunting meet ups with battle meet ups and then people can trade off species.
I would also like to see an update for a battery saver that actually works because the one provided doesn’t really explain what it does and after testing for a few days I didn’t see much difference either. Nintendo and Niantic also need to do some updates as to where these Pokémon are randomly generated.
They should also remove sites like government military installations and historical sites because it’s one thing to set a Pokémon close by but not directly in a military base or in the middle of a historical site that’s been left undisturbed for generations for crying out loud. Hopefully this would result in fewer issues of people being seriously injured or having a run-in with the law resulting in massive legal charges being brought against them.
Overall I give this game a 8.5 out of 10
Nintendo and Niantic appear to have hit a home run with Pokémon Go with tons of interactions to be had, as well as a wide open augmented world to discover. They have totally nailed what an Augmented Reality experience can be.
Pokémon Go will have you going places that you may never visit in your spare time. such as random parks, churches, libraries, real life gyms, and theme parks for starters. If you haven’t been much of an explorer around your community this game will get you to go out and do just that. It’s truly the only way get the most out of the game and to “catch them all” because as I said earlier you aren’t going to have much luck catching Pokémon staying in one spot.
That being said I understand people wanting to “catch them all” that you have to catch them all. I myself have been waiting all my life to actually catch these weird little creatures so we are living in a great time.
But for crying out loud please pay attention to your surroundings!
Don’t go into a place or do something you know is wrong to catch a Pokémon use the incense the devs made the way they want you to so the Pokémon come to you.
Please believe the hype that is Pokémon Go is real, it’s legit but above all else be safe!
You teach me and I’ll teach you POKEMON!!!! Gotta Catch them all, Gotta Catch them allllllllllllllllllllll POKEMON !!!