Saturday, 23 July 2016

Pokemon Go: First Impressions

Everyone that ever played a core Pokemon game probably imagined what would it be like if Pokemon were real. Thanks to the advances in technology, we have that in a free to play smartphone app called Pokemon Go. How it works is that your phone locates you via GPS tracking and wild pokemon spawn a little aways from you, so you’ll have to go out and find them. It’s basically an improved Pokewalker from when Heartgold/SoulSilver came out. Although instead of it being a pedometer where you can cheat steps in by shaking it, you have to physically move your location.

If you live near a town, you’ll probably notice little blue markers by some locations. Those are called Pokespots. When you get close to one, the Pokespot will grant you items when you interact with it on your phone. People can use lure modules at pokespots and they’re marked by swirling cherry blossoms near the pokespot. Lure modules lure nearby pokemon towards them. Don’t get confused with the incense which only work for you.

Some locations can become gyms too. When you pick a team as you reach level 5 (either Red, Yellow, or Blue), you can take on these gyms. You can either take a gym of a different team or you can add a pokemon to the gym of the same color as you. When you add a pokemon they will stay at that gym, but if they lose while you’re away, they automatically come back to you even if the gym is far away.

Pokemon Go uses AR to show a pokemon in front of you using the phone camera. I find it easier to catch pokemon with the AR off, plus it saves battery. When you catch a pokemon, you get some candy of that species. Catching even weak pokemon is good because you need plenty of candy to level up and evolve some pokemon. Pokemon will have CP meaning Combat Points. The higher the Combat Points the stronger it is. There is no cap on CP from what I can see.

My personal experience with this app was quite fun. My friends would go on these outings to various locations like the park or the beach. There’s a town walking distance from my house with a lot of pokespots, so I usually go there for some items and some pokemon catches. After that we go to the beach and catch some wild water type pokemon as well as Dratini.

The amazing thing about Pokemon Go is how active it is. When you go out on let’s say an afternoon, a surprising amount of people play it. You can probably notice at least one person playing it and most likely have a stable conversation with them. The team system makes your neighborhood into, as my friend puts it, a socially acceptable gang war. People yelling out encouragements for their teams and trash talking other teams, all in good fun of course. Although the experience can depend on what kind of neighborhood you live in. As the loading screen with the Gyarados says, always stay aware of your surroundings.

This game is of course without its faults. The game tends to lag when catching pokemon. Sometimes the screen would glitch and you can’t press anything, usually what happens when you use battery saver. Most of the time in certain crowded areas, it would kick you out saying that the servers are busy. It’s very important to carry an external battery charger while you go out, this game tends to drain a lot of phone battery. Though that’s to be expected when you have the app open as you travel.

Pokemon Go is a fantastic idea that needs a lot of polishing. I can forgive all the faults because it’s still in beta. It’s playable for the most part, it’s basically a free early access game for everyone. Currently it’s very active and has scheduled updates from the company for various bug fixes. You can’t ignore how much of a phenomenon despite how buggy the game is. Various news stories on mainstream networks, and a surprising amount of how many people play the game never picked up a core pokemon game. It’s a great way for people to get introduced to the franchise. It’s still a great time to at least try it out. It’s free to play so you’re not really losing anything by downloading it. Pokemon fan or not, it’s a good introduction to the types of pokemon you can meet. It’s still an amazing experience and I highly recommend going out with friends to play together.


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