Anyone who plays video games and has grown up during the 90s is familiar with Pokemon. It’s also likely that they’ve been fantasizing about going out into the world and catching pokemon for themselves ever since. Well, that dream has become a reality.
Pokemon Go is an amalgamation of real world GPS location-based exploration (like geocaching), augmented reality bits, and pokemon. Pokemon! In practice it’s a matter of wandering around in order to find something to catch, catching it, then competing with other players to maintain control over pokemon gyms at real world locations.
Take a Walk
The best way to catch any pokemon is to get out there and do some legwork.
The floating blue cubes that turn into poké ball symbols when you get close are PokéStops. When you’re close enough you can tap on them to “visit,” then swipe across the large circle in the center of the screen to collect useful items.
Those large spires surrounded by lights are gyms. You won’t be able to do anything with them until you reach trainer level 5 and pick a team to join (Valor, Mystic, or Instinct), but once you do you can battle against other trainers.
Hatch eggs by placing them in incubators (open the pokemon menu and then select the Eggs tab), then start walking. Different eggs require different distances to hatch.
Insert Worn Out Line About Catching Here
Actually capturing pokemon can be tricky at times. It’s usually fairly easy starting out but soon you’ll end up with a few escapees. Don’t be discouraged!
The way you toss the poke ball does make a difference. If you pull to the side, it’ll veer off. If you swipe too quickly or too slowly it’ll go past your target or come up short.
The colored ring (green, yellow, orange, red) that appears around a pokemon gives a vague idea of how tough it is to catch.
If you fail too often, and/or if the pokemon pulls too far away from you (it usually gets a bit further back with each failure), it’s going to run.
Beef ‘Em Up
Once you’ve caught your pokemon you still need to train and evolve them.
Every time you catch a pokemon, you’ll earn some candy for that type. You can spend this candy a piece at a time to boost their power and health, or you can save it up and spend a bunch at once on evolution.
Don’t use candy right away. Wait until your trainer level is higher, when you start finding pokemon with strength numbering the hundreds, to use your candy.
Catch every single pidgey you find, then evolve them. Pidgeys are really easy to evolve, and doing so will net you a fair amount of experience. You can exploit this to gain levels quickly and, by extension, start finding more powerful pokemon sooner.
Beat ‘Em Down
Eventually you’re going to have to find a gym and throw-down.
Attack rival gyms to reduce their prestige (necessary for pushing other teams out and taking over). Attack gyms your team controls to increase their prestige and make it more difficult for rivals to take over.
Tap to attack. Some pokemon are also faster than others, which you can use to your advantage.
Swipe left or right to sidestep. If you time it right you can avoid your opponent’s attacks.
Tap and hold to use a special attack. This uses an energy meter – displayed under the pokemon’s health. Once a segment is glowing blue, you’re free to use it.
Simple but Promising
Pokemon Go is already something of a phenomenon all over the world. I mean it’s real world pokemon catching – or at least as close as we’re ever going to get without genetic engineering. The servers are something of an unreliable mess at the moment, but there’s still a kind of magic to it.
Real Life Pokemon
Any Pokemon fan knows how much they’ve been wishing for a real world equivalent ever since the 90s. That’s exactly what Pokemon Go is attempting to provide – at least until we bring genetic engineering into the equation. And it sort of succeeds, kind of, maybe.
If you’re a fan, you’re bound to love seeing so many different pokemon pretending to be in the real world. If not, it’s still pretty cool, actually. Regardless, it’s worth it for the funny and adorable photo opportunities alone.
Get Some Fresh Air
Pokemon Go requires going outside. You have to wander around the real world looking for pokemon in actual locations, travel to specific places in order to collect useful items, find gyms to battle in, and so on. Quite honestly, this is great.
Ever since launch there have been stories about people coming together thanks to a mutual love of pokemon. Knowing glances are exchanged, playful trash talk with rival teams takes place, and that forced sense of camaraderie in the cartoon that I always rolled my eyes at is actually happening in real life now.
That’s when it’s working. There have been all sorts of sporadic outages since launch that have derailed much of the fun. Simply logging in is half the battle, but even after a successful start the game will still freeze during a capture or refuse to let you interact with gyms and PokéStops. The “Nearby” tab, meant to help you find specific pokemon, has also been borked to the point of uselessness ever since the last update.
Simple, but Not User Friendly
Another problem is that Pokemon Go’s current form is too basic. It’s fun in a silly and nostalgic way, but there’s barely any game here. Most actual gameplay is limited to gym battles – and those are pretty basic, too. Tap to attack, swipe to dodge, and hold to trigger a special attack – that’s all. Assuming the lag doesn’t completely wreck everything.
Then there’s the matter of not teaching new players anything. The new Professor lets you choose a starter, then you’re on your own. Want to know how gym battles work? Good luck! Curious about how to track specific pokemon? Figure it out!
Pokemon Go is a mixture of unbridled frustration and childlike glee. The servers are spectacularly unreliable, the gameplay is practically nonexistent, and you’re left to figure almost everything out.
However, there’s this undeniable magic to it all. You’re wandering around the real world catching freaking pokemon! People will point you towards their own previous catches. Someone will use a lure to draw more pokemon to a location and suddenly a huge group with gather, talking and laughing with each other, sharing tips, and so on.
I love to hate it or I hate to love it. I can’t quite decide.
– Review by Rob Rich
(Android – For most Android based phones and tablets.
See download page for specific requirements.)
(iOS – For most iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices.
See download page for specific requirements.)