It might seem hard to believe, but the US is in the grips of an epidemic the likes of which it hasn’t seen since 1998: Pokémon fever. Since the release of Pokémon Go last week for iOS and Android phones, the game has been the topic of seemingly every conversation on the Internet as well as the news, as eager players are taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers to capture Pokémon and claim gyms. A few of the Nintendojo staffers have also downloaded the anticipated mobile game, but are they as enraptured by it as the general populace? Read on to find out their thoughts on the title!
A couple of years ago a colleague of mine told me that his wife was totally addicted to an augmented reality game called Ingress, where she would run around in the real world trying to find people to do battle with and to capture real landmarks. There were times she’d actually say, “wait, turn down here,” because something important was going on in-game on a real side-street. I though it was a clever game mechanic, but also a little scary. I mean, what would the world look like if everyone was doing this?
Well, I guess now the Apocalypse is upon the rest of us, and the police are going to have to adapt to a world where random people go running into strange places at strange hours with their phones in front of them. It’s almost as strange as the old dude who puts on headphones and starts roaming the beach with his metal detector.
I downloaded and played Go for about five minutes just to see what the fuss was about. Not much to it, really: you hunt and catch ‘em, and find “gyms” which are nearby landmarks. The game requires you to get on your feet and explore– I suppose that’s good– but it does so in a way that is also going to be a little socially awkward. Also, the actual in-game mechanics feel different from mainline Pokémon games. The Pokémon themselves are there, but the way you catch them and the way you battle and level them is different. This is usually the case when franchises (i.e. Kingdom Hearts, the Tales series) get appropriated into a smartphone game, but I think it tends to turn these games into something other than what I enjoy and am familiar with. After a while, it makes the game feel thinner and less satisfying.
I subsequently deleted the game. I won’t be joining the hordes on this one.
I’m on holiday in the US this week and was sure that I would be able to download this as a result. Taking it out with me as I traveled around the country seemed perfect! Alas, I was mistaken… It seems I will have to wait for it to be released elsewhere like all other Europeans.
I guess this gives those of you in America a leg-up on catching ’em all!
I’ve been attempting to play Pokémon Go over the past couple days and haven’t had much success. Been getting quite a few server issues, the worst being right when I caught a Ratatta only for it to crash right before it joined my team.
Furthermore, I think the in-game explanation of how the app works is rather poor. Not that I’m asking to be drowned in tutorials, but as someone who hasn’t followed Go’s development very closely, I’m only just now hearing about blue/red teams and Pokémon Gyms, and there are many other mechanics/signals I’m not understanding. Do the blue spots that ensue from tapping the screen do anything? Do the number of footprints below a nearby Pokémon indicate how far it is? It’s all very confusing, and on top of the server issues, I don’t think Niantic thought this whole thing through enough.
On the other hand, I love the concept behind it. It actively encourages you to get outside the house, and I’m quite fond of all the stories regarding new friends and communication through the app. I’ll be attending the Symphonic Evolutions concert at the Mann Center this Sunday, and I can’t wait to see how everyone’ll be obsessing over it.
Go is a lot better than I thought it would be. The Pokémon are all rendered quite nicely, and I think the trainers are all pretty cool looking (though I wish there were more customization options). It feels really, really weird hunting for Pokémon on a smartphone, but Niantic has adapted the concept well for mobile devices.
I do find the whole experience to be a bit on the light side compared to “real” Pokémon games, however. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun, but the whole flicking mechanic feels slightly off, and overall it’s just not the polished piece of software I’m used to from the series. As a fun diversion, though, I think it does its job.
By the way– you can get Pikachu as a starter! Ignore the trio of Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle when they first appear until they disappear; do that four times, and Pikachu should pop up, ready to be caught! It’s never explicitly told that you can do this, but give it a shot and you can make all your friends jelly.
Initially, I was really torn on Pokémon Go. On one hand, I’m always rooting for Nintendo’s success. On the other hand, we’ve seen the dark side of the industry’s obsession with mobile gaming (RIP Konami), and I don’t want to see Nintendo go down that route. Having played it, however, I’ve become a believer.
What appeals to me the most about Pokémon Go is the community aspect. When Pokémon Red and Blue released in 1998, I was in eighth grade, and I had never seen people playing a game like it before. It seemed like everyone had either Red or Blue, and anyone that didn’t would stop to watch a trade or battle with curiosity. Now, I’ve played every game in the main series franchise, and I can honestly say Pokémon Go is the first game that has managed to drum up similar feelings. Sure, it doesn’t have the same depth of the main series proper, but that same feeling is there. There’s just something that really makes me feel nostalgic when I hear so many people talking about my favorite game franchise. I’ve loved all the great stories and anecdotes I keep hearing from people playing Go. It really is wonderful how many people have embraced it.
That said, I haven’t had a ton of luck with Pokémon Go just yet. I’m only at level 4, and the rarest Pokémon I’ve managed to find is an Arcanine (on our road trip to the Cleveland Aquarium). I really do plan to immerse myself more into it soon. I’m still more excited for Pokémon Sun and Moon, but this will definitely tide me over in the meantime!
Have you downloaded Pokémon Go? Has the title sunk its hooks into you, or has it left you bemused by its appeal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!