Suddenly it feels like the nineties again as The Spice Girls are supposedly forming for their 20th anniversary, Pokémon is all the rage with kids and adults alike and curtains are back in fashion for men’s hairstyles…. Well, maybe not the latter (thank the lord) but the rest is true. Pokémon has gained a new lease of life as a smart phone app. Here I find out if Pokémon Go has the poke balls to be the best like no one ever was…
Released on 6th July in Australia and New Zealand as well as America, yet the whole thing was a bit of mess (to say the least) with people not knowing when it would be, which countries would be next, server issues etc. Nevertheless, Pokémon Go has made it to the UK shores and has become the fastest game to top the App Store and Google Play.
The app itself is free to play, with optional paid for content (more on this later). The game works by using both your phone’s GPS and 3G / 4G to connect to the internet, bringing Pokémon to the real world (sort of) with the help of Augmented Reality (or AR). This means, your world in Pokémon reflects the world you live in – whilst walking around you are able to discover different types of Pokémon in different areas. For example, you tend to find more water type Pokémon in areas such as lakes, rivers etc
To begin with, the app has you create your avatar, either male / female, able to pick which type of hair, eyes and clothes. The choices are very limited and not much distinction between each to make it worthwhile anyway. I donned a red ensemble and was ready to start catching!
My avatar appeared on the map that mirrored where I live. The map isn’t massively detailed (more like blocks of where the buildings will be) with roads. I noticed a blue “PokeStop” opposite to where I live at the church hall. Pressing the stop, gives extra items such as Poke balls, potions and more. You can only use them once, but closing the app and opening it again, does allow more items.
When Pokémon are near, you can hear them (if sound is on) or a vibration if the sound is off. To start with, you have the choice of picking three starter Pokémon (Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle) as in the tradition of the other games. I chose Charmander and wanted to get started levelling him up.
Here’s my first surprise in Pokémon Go as when Pokémon do appear, you don’t need to battle them with your own Pokémon you simply flick a poke ball at them and they’re caught (sometimes they may move or get out of the poke ball and run away) and it’s as simple as that. This is my disappointment with Go – I enjoy battling, levelling Pokémon up and taking my time with the game. Simply throwing a ball with a swipe seems… rather dull.
When out and about, walking in real life will move your character in the game, you’ll notice Pokestops (usually at churches and the like), gyms and of course Pokémon, that is, if you can find any! When starting the game up, the initial one or two Pokémon can be found (usually a Rattata or Pidgey) and then, you’ll struggle to find anymore. Sure, there’s a little display at the bottom right of the screen, showcasing what Pokémon may be near, but that’s just it you’ll be wandering around trying in vain to find them. It’s a little frustrating to say the least, considering this is a Pokémon game after all and should be full of them!
Maybe it’s just me – friends of mine have Porygons, Eevee’s and all sorts of wonderful Pokémon. It’s true they can be found in different areas of your neighbourhood, especially in city centres but do I really have time each evening to be heading out into the centre? No.
You can get “eggs” as items to incubate (walking will hatch them) and as of yet, I’m ashamed to say I haven’t hatched any – even though I have been walking everywhere whilst playing Go.
Gyms are dotted around where I live (one is opposite at a local football ground) and this is where “factions” can take control. These are Valor (they use Moltres as their mascot), Mystic (Articuno) and Instinct (Zapdos). To try a gym, you need to be level 5 (experience is gained from catching Pokémon and stopping at Pokestops) and obviously, being in distance of a gym. I chose team Valor (red is my colour don’t you know?) and fired up the local gym.
Now, this is another disappointment. To battle whoever is the current leader of the gym, you must tap the opposite Pokémon as basic attacks. You can dodge enemy attacks by swiping left or right and more powerful moves are unleashed after filling a blue bar. Now, call me old fashioned, but I expected to battle properly as per the other games. I’ve lost several battles and to be honest, can’t be bothered to go again. Tapping away manically is not what I think of when battling Pokémon.
Items can be found at Pokestops, or purchased with coins at the store. Yet, here’s the thing, I haven’t felt the need to buy anything. Mostly I just need candy or stardust that is gained from catching the same types of Pokémon. I’d rather wait than pay for anything – prices range from 79p to a whopping £79.99 for coins to buy things like extra incubators for eggs, more space in your bag, poke balls etc.
Yet despite all my frustrations with the game, I still want to play it. There’s something about having a pokedex incomplete that makes me still want to play. I still hope to catch more Pokémon even though there are very few around when I do play…
I’m hoping there is an update for the game, to include proper battles, maybe to also assign an area as home so more Pokémon are available in the area that you live.There are many bugs In the game that need sorting (Such as the game crashing when Pokémon are caught) as it’s a little frustrating having to restart the game all the time!