So, in case you’ve missed it, Pokemon Go! has been released in many parts of the world. And everybody is freaking out about it. Rightfully so, not only is it the first Pokemon game on a smart phone and one of the first games that make use of the augmented reality feature, it’s also the first one that gets nerds out of their basements.
I’m not lying to you here, I got way too excited when I read that Pokemon Go! was finally released in my country this morning. I even got so excited I started talking in an Scottish accent (don’t know why though 🙂 ) Finally being able to go out and search for pokemon in real life has been one of my childhood dreams and now it became a reality.
But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have concerns about the game. The extreme battery usage seemed like a big issue for me, given that my phones have the life span of ice cream in the broad daylight. And I’m also not one of these people with unlimited internet on their phones, so I wasn’t expecting endless hours of fun a day from pokemon Go!
But nonetheless I got the app and started playing instantly. And the nostalgia immediately kicked in: I have played nearly every pokemon game until Soulsilver and still have Mystery Dungeon 1 (which is probably one of the best games ever created) on my phone. The first thing I did when I got home from school as a child, was watching pokemon on telly. And from the very first moment I started playing Pokemon Go!, it felt like a pokemon game.
The game starts with the new professor explaining the basics (nothing new) and then the fun starts: You see the 3 starters pop up on-screen and now you’re faced with the most difficult decision your 7-year old self had to make once: Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur.
I’m a fire guy, so I’m choosing Charmander 90% of the time, even though I really like Squirtle as well. And once you’ ve made that important decision you’re right into the game and can start with your adventure.
This is also where I experienced the first issue I had with the game: The game doesn’t explain the various options or concepts of the game very clearly. The only things the game explains to you are the meaning of the pokestops and the gyms. The rest has to be figured out by the player.
And to be honest, I felt a bit lost at the beginning. I had no idea how to find wild pokemon or what to do with my starter. Or how to use the items in my itembinder. Or what that candy was supposed to be and where to get that. The old games always took a long time to make everything clear for the player (sometimes a bit to long for veterans, but nonetheless you knew everything you needed to know). So I walked around aimlessly, looking for pokemon, but only finding pokestops and gyms I couldn’t enter. When I found my first pokemon, a pidgey, for some reason the AR didn’t seem to work and I spent 5 mins walking in a circle, trying to find a pidgey that wasn’t there. So when I turned AR off, the pidgey still didn’t show up, which was weird. So, I decided to forget about that and just look for other pokemon.
So, I walked, and walked, and walked even more. And I didn’t find a single pokemon. I walked for an hour, 3 and a half kilometers aimlessly walking through the city and not a single pokemon. So, discouraged, I went home and out of nothing, a few yards from my home, wild pokemon just out of nowhere! I caught ratatas, a pidgey, a nidoran (male) and other very common pokemon and all my frustration from before was forgotten. It was fun catching wild pokemon, throwing pokeballs at them and filling up your pokedex. Even though I really wish that you could battle wild pokemon like in the originals instead of just throwing a ball and hoping it stays in.
One thing that I noticed is that this game is a really good way to stop caring about what other people think of you: When I walked around, suddenly moved into another direction because a wild pokemon popped up and constantly looked at my phone while walking, I noticed a lot of people making fun of me (especially elders) or people being angry and confused that I was pointing my phone in their backyard. As they should, a sweaty 20year old bearded bloke walking around with his phone looking for fictional monsters that are only visible on his phone is an odd sight. And I felt a bit awkward at first, but once you play for a while, you just stop giving a damn. Especially when there are Nidorans around!
Once I’ve finally made it to Lv5 and got to my first gym I received my first devastating loss of my pokemon career. Probably because sending a Caterpie into battle isn’t a good idea, but also because I had no idea what I was doing. Once again, the game doesn’t even bother to explain one of the biggest concepts of the game and you have to read up on fighting on the internet.
I’m not a big fan of the new fighting system (at least not yet). It seems a bit uncivilised and sometimes it really depends on sheer luck. In the originals you could make much better use of your pokemon’s attacks and type, where as here, you just somehow need to bash your screen in.
Another issue I have with Pokemon Go! is, that it sometimes doesn’t show you when a pokemon gets out of reach, i.g. it tells you an eevee is nearby, so since you don’t know the direction you randomly walk into one,and if you choose the wrong one, the game sometimes forgets to tell you that, leading to a 4mile walk into nowhere for me this morning… If the game could fix that, it’d be a huuuuge help.
Nonetheless, I was very positively surprised at how much fun Pokemon Go! is. My phone batteries hold up so far (I managed a 2h walk and ended up with 30% left, starting from 91%) and so far my internet provider hasn’t restricted my data usage, so it seems to working just fine. The game is incredibly addicting, because you always stumble upon new pokemon, leading to lengthy trips into the outside world (tip: Always stay hydrated and know where the next toilet is). It’s especially funny to see what type of people are playing Pokemon GO!: You’d expect a lot of kids playing this game, as they’re had been concerns by parents that pedophiles might abuse the game to lure in children and pokemon is generally regarded as a kids game. So far, I have not encountered one single child playing this game. But LOADS of mid-20s (myself included) and today I’ve even seen a woman in her late-30s celebrating a successful caterpie hunt.
Is it the best game in the world? As you can tell from the various issues I’ve pointed out, it’s not. But it’s better than expected. I thought it’d be nothing then a gimmick, but it’s a fully functioning game and one that will keep you off your couch for hours to come.
Have you played Pokemon Go! Did you like it? Let me know by leaving a comment in the comment section. Also, follow me for more news. Until then, I’m off to catch a dratini!