Well, it’s been a week, and I’m on my way to level 16 of Pokemon Go.
I downloaded the game on Thursday 7th, as it had just come out here in New Zealand, and then I spent the next 2 days wandering around Auckland trying to catch ’em all.
I had a friend staying with me, so we had already planned to check out a few places around Auckland while she was here. It was just an added bonus, really, that we could catch Pokemon while we were wandering. The first place we went was the Auckland Botanic Gardens (which was amazing, by the way), and the next day we went to Auckland Domain, and Mission Bay. By the end of the weekend I was half way through level 12, and my highest Pokemon was 500-something-CP.
But where we went isn’t really what I wanted to talk about. Perhaps that’s a post for another day.
What is it?
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, then in short, Pokemon Go is the new app released by Nintendo, which uses augmented reality (the real world) to basically get people out of the house and wandering around their neighbourhoods in search of wild Pokemon. I won’t go into too much detail, you can read all about it here, but the gist of it is this. You create your Pokemon Trainer (if you can find a name that isn’t already taken by the swarms of people already playing), and you’re essentially given one of three Pokemon to start off with – Charmander, Baulbasaur or Squirtle. From there it’s time to start walking…not by moving your mouse or using your keyboard…but actually physically walking.
As you walk around, wild Pokemon will appear in the area you’re in. You can then catch the Pokemon using a Pokeball, by sort of click-hold-and-flinging it at the Pokemon. If you manage to catch it, the Pokemon is registered to your Pokedex (the index of all the Pokemon you’ve caught), and added to your list of Pokemon, which you can then eventually evolve and powerup.
As well as just walking around catching pocket monsters, there are Pokesteps and Gyms. A Pokestop is a landmark indicated with a blue square, which turns into a spinning blue circle when you get close enough to it. You can then click it, spin it, and you’ll receive things like Pokeballs, potions for healing and reviving, and various other items that will help you as you conquer the world. The Gym is where you can battle other players and their Pokemon. The aim of the Gyms is to claim it for your team, which you can choose when you get to level 5.
(There are three teams – Team Instinct which is yellow, Team Mystic which is blue, and Team Valor which is red. When you reach level 5 you can then head to a gym and choose which team you’d like to be a part of. I’m Team Mystic.)
Like I mentioned, you can read about the whole game here.
Something I’ve taken to saying in everyday life now is ‘Stay aware of your surroundings’ because that’s one of the main messages that pops up when you open up the app (see above screen shot). Pokemon Go is a walking game, but walking involves traffic, curbs, trees, buildings, cliffs, and other people playing Pokemon Go. The world is a dangerous place for a Pokemon Trainer. Be safe out there, guys.
Why I love it
What I’m loving – other than obviously the fact that Pokemon is brilliant and it’s bringing back my love of the Nintendo game – is not only how they’ve managed to get people out of the house and walking around (I’m seriously considering cancelling my gym membership), but that as you’re wandering around your neighbourhoods and parts of your cities, you bump into other people also trying to catch ’em all. It’s incredibly social, even if you’re not on the same team.
Because of all the Pokestops about the place, you also get to discover places, landmarks, street art and other various bits and bobs that you perhaps didn’t know about before, or hadn’t really noticed. You can also help each other out, by placing a Lure Module at a Pokestop, which means that for 30 minutes, Pokemon are attracted to that location and everyone within range can catch up when they appear. If someone uses one, then everyone benefits.
Like most apps and games in their beginning stages, there have been glitches. The first few days were wrought with the server going down, meaning you couldn’t actually play, but as the week has gone by it has definitely gotten better.
The AR (augmented reality) hasn’t been working on mine. I don’t know whether this is just specifically my phone, or perhaps it’s an Android thing (let me know if you’re having issues with this too!). Whenever a Pokemon appears, your camera activates and you can see them in your real-life surroundings. You might have a Zubat flying over your desk, or your path might be blocked by a Psyduck. Not only does this make it seem like you’re catching Pokemon in real life, but it’s been the cause of some hilarious images flooding the internet already. But mine doesn’t work. You can turn off AR mode, which is what I have to do, but it’s so much more fun when you can use it.
The other thing that has been glitchy on mine is that I can’t view each Pokemon in my Pokedex. When you go into your Pokedex, you should be able to click on a Pokemon that you’ve caught and view their information and what Pokemon they evolve into. Mine doesn’t work.
I’m hoping that some of the glitches (if not all) are fixed in the first update of the app, but for now I’m okay with just catching Pokemon and evolving my thousands of Zubats into Golbats and then Crobats.
Battery and Data Use
Not really a glitch, but just a fact of life and gaming apps like this, it does take a lot out on your phone battery. Thankfully, I have a little power bank that I plugged my phone into when it was looking rather low and we were still walking around the Domain.
You also need a constant Wi-Fi or data connection, and if you’re walking around the streets then you will be using up your data. However, it didn’t use as much as I thought it was going go, and after using it pretty much non stop on Friday and Saturday last week, I used about 300mgs. That may sound like a lot, and I guess it is, but that was constant use. If you’re going to be having it on while you’re purposefully walking around catching Pokemon then it might chew up your data, but if you’re okay with just catching them on your way to work as you walk, or catch the bus or train (doable – just don’t do it while you’re driving people! Get your passenger to catch them for you. Don’t Catch and Drive), then you’ll find the data consumption isn’t too bad at all.
Definitely love this game. While I never really watched the TV show (I remember not being allowed as a kid, or not being that interested or something similar), I loved the game and would spend hours playing after school and on the weekends. While some people online have been griping about a new generation of kids who are suddenly getting into Pokemon when the rest of us have loved it since, or soon after, it’s beginnings in the early 1990s, I think it’s a great move.
If you haven’t downloaded it yet and you’re intrigued, you can get it in the App Store, and in the Play Store (and read this article on Forbes called ‘Ten Things I Wish I knew When I Started Pokemon Go‘), though be aware it may not yet be available in your country yet. Because of the demand in the few countries (including here in NZ), they’ve delayed the worldwide release as to not overload the already bending-under-the-weight servers. You can read more about here, but hopefully they’ll have it up and running in your neck of the woods soon.
For those of you who have already been playing, why are you reading this? Get out there and catch some Pokemon! Go Team Mystic!
Do you love it? Not enjoying it? Let me know in the comments!