Pokémon GO officially launched on 7th July in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and USA for iPhone and Android. Much to the frustration of fans, Niantic have apparently pressed the “pause” button on a UK or Europe launch. In simple terms, their servers cannot handle the current amount of players trying to “Catch Em’ All.” An official launch won’t be available until the developers are ‘comfortable’.
On 7th July, Niantic and Nintendo released their first ‘adventure’ together in the mobile world to limited success. As there had been no word from either company about a launch date, this invited surprise meant, in the first day, Pokémon Go hit #1 downloaded game on the US Play Store. Nintendo’s shares haven risen 10% since the launch and considering they only play an indirect role, this is already shaping up to be a big success on their part.
From here, this article reflects my own views and experiences within Pokémon GO as well as all my own pictures. I will go over the positives as well as the negatives that I have encountered thus far, a first impressions look, if you will.
First Load Up
After installing Pokémon GO, I made sure that my Location settings were switched on, it won’t work without them, and signed in via my Google account. I was introduced to Professor Willow, a much more athletic professor than previous games, who introduced the game and made me choose my gender. I thus chose a male and changed his appearance. There are a few options for hats, hair colour, clothing choices but nothing too wild and by this point I just wanted to dive in!
After more dialogue I got to capture either a Charmander, Squirtle or Bulbasaur who were conveniently right in my vicinity, as is the first tutorial encounter. After throwing a few Pokéballs at it in all different directions, I chose Bulbasaur. This minigame is not only highly amusing but it features some great elements. You can switch from game view, a generated grassland, to AR or Augmented Reality which uses your camera to project the Pokémon on your screen. As you can see from my images, just being able to take pictures before you try and capture them is a brilliant feature and highly tweetable. I then received the standard 50 Pokéballs to go out and start the game.
Coming to this game from having played all (except Black and White) of the Pokémon RPG games, I was giddy with excitement and after capturing a Rattata in the toilet at work and showing my colleagues, with mixed response, I was genuinely having fun.
The biggest difference with Pokémon GO, is the fact that this game is almost entirely about filling up your Pokédex, the Pokémon encyclopedia, and that literally translates to capturing every Pokémon you encounter. I mean EVERY Pokémon, as once you capture them you receive candies and experience. The candies are the most important item as this is what enables you to evolve the basic Pokémon. For example, lets take my Rattata. Rattata needs 25 Rattata candies to evolve into a Raticate and you receive only 3 per Rattata captured which means I needed to catch 9 Rattatas. This was fairly easy as being a common critter around me it didn’t take long. Raticate, YES!
Pokéstops & Eggs
As the below picture shows, the virtual map, of wherever you are, is the main interface and as you walk about Pokémon will appear where you can tap them and start the minigame. On the map there are also two important icons. Pokéstops and Gyms. I will first take Pokéstops.
Pokéstops are random locations from a pub, to a church or to a sign for something which, as you get closer will change from a pin to a stop sign-looking icon. I first clicked on one, and I knew somewhat what it did. Except it did nothing when I clicked on it. There was no instructions from Prof. Willow, and if there were I didn’t take notice. Pokéstops, when spun, offer free items from Pokéballs, Revives, Potions or Eggs…
Although you receive 50 Pokéballs to begin with, the only way of getting more is through levelling, again done by catching Pokémon or through Pokéstops. Whilst travelling around over the weekend I encountered quite a lot of Pokéstops. Free stuff! I’d imagine as you progress through the game your limited supply of Pokéballs will become thinner and if you want to keep it free-to-play then this is the only method. It also gets you out of the house!
Another way of getting Pokémon is through hatching Eggs. Once you receive an egg you can put it into an incubator. You get one that you have unlimited access to and others you can buy or get through Pokéstops. Eggs have either 2km or 5km distance before they will hatch and I can only guess that the 5km eggs contain Pokémon a little harder to find. My first egg hatched only yesterday, awarding a Vulpix with 15 candies and a bunch of experience so this is definitely worth doing, especially as the whole game makes you walk and adventure out.
Gyms & Combat Power
Now every Pokémon you catch has a number relating to its Combat Power. This essentially is how strong it is and how well you will do in battles. My first Bulbasaur has a CP of only 15 whilst my Raticate has 175. I have also seen a Hypno with over 400 so you can see the numbers vary quite a lot.
CP is important in terms of conquering gyms. Gyms can have a number of players who have occupied it and left a Pokémon to stand guard against others who wish to compete. I managed to take over a gym who had an Eevee with only 42 CP. Not much of a challenge. Gym battles were my biggest disappointment however. As I have yet to meet another trainer this is the only experience I have of battling.
Gym battles face you against the occupied Pokémon via another minigame whereby you click on the opposing Pokémon until it faints. That is all! Even though the Pokémon have 2 moves, they are completely ignored. Let allow a turn based feature which the Pokémon series is prized on. Perhaps as time moves on, they will update this or just let the bigger number win by how fast my finger can tap on the screen.
By occupying a gym, trainers can receive some in-game currency every 21 hours, but for all the effort, I think this is pointless. I hope to be proved wrong.
+ Great catching minigame
+ Entertaining and nostalgic
+ Pokémon avatars and AR look awesome (especially on your partners lap!)
+ Gets you walking and adventuring
– Gym battles suck
– Same Pokémon seen over and over
– Evolving Pokémon is already a chore
– Battery draining
Above is the positives and negatives which I have encountered so far and entirely my own opinion. Pokémon GO is a great game especially for the mobile age we are in but I am a little worried that once the hype is all but forgotten, will Pokémon GO keep drawing back its followers? After only a few days I am now bored with the repetition. And also annoyed at how many times I’m having to charge up my battery. For me, Pokémon GO will get me through my boredom whilst travelling or whilst I’m having a stroll, see what Pokémon decide to grab my attention.
Whether this is a 20th Anniversary novelty or a game that will go down in history, Pokémon GO has already made big news and I believe will keep making news as more features come out and trainers discover rarer Pokémon.