Wander the downtown area of any major city around the world and you might find people walking around with a laser-sharp focus on their smartphones. Normally, you’d think they were following directions or having an intense Snapchat session, but these days they might just be playing Pokemon Go. This is the mobile game that took the world by storm in late 2016, and with good reason: It’s the closest we’ve gotten to capturing and training actual, real-life Pokemon. Pokemon Go is still tremendously fun and, despite a few issues, it’s one of the most addictive iPhone games I’ve ever played. (It’s also available on Android.) The recent of
The gameplay and implementation of augmented reality (AR)
To Catch Them Is My Real Test, To
Train Them Is My Cause
My first step in achieving my lifelong dream of becoming a Pokemon Master was to download Pokemon Go onto my Apple iPhone 6s Plus. It also works with Android smartphones with 2GB of RAM and Android 4.4 KitKat or higher, letting you use a variety of budget phones. I initially connected it to my Google account, which is no longer seems an option due to security issues that cropped up. You now have to use a Pokemon Trainer Club account, which uses The Pokemon Company’s server.
After making an account I quickly swiped through the introduction by Professor Willow and created a character using the handful of customization options for gender, hair, skin color, and clothing. You’re still able to make changes to these anytime you want later on. That done, the game placed my character on a map of my real-world neighborhood, where I encountered three traditional starter Pokemon: Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur. Your choice of starter doesn’t really matter, as you can eventually get all three. I discovered Bulbasaur in my toilet after choosing Charmander, and there’s even a way to get Pikachu if you run away from your initial starters.
Capturing a Pokemon is a simple task. The Pokemon appear on the map when you’re close to them, which is usually indicated by rustling grass or lure modules (more on these later). You simply approach the target and tap it to attempt a capture. This launches your smartphone’s camera, which shows the Pokemon in AR, set against the backdrop of your surroundings.
At this point, a set of rings appears around the Pokemon, indicating the difficulty of capturing it. Green-ringed Pokemon
If you’re lucky and the Pokemon gets caught, you’ll get some experience points, allowing you to level up. It also grants you bonuses like stardust and candy, which you’ll need to level up and evolve your Pokemon.
Overall, capturing Pokemon in AR is a fun and engaging pursuit. There’s something undeniably exciting about seeing a Pokemon present in the real world. It worked seamlessly on my iPhone, but owners of more affordable Android devices will want to make sure they have a gyroscope;
I Will Travel Across the Land,
Searching Far and Wide
To play Pokemon Go you must do something few other games require. You must leave your house, step outside, and get some exercise. For the average gamer, this practically counts as a fitness app. There’s nothing as formal as a step counter, but you do get bonuses for distance traveled. You can also enable a buddy Pokemon, essentially it’s a companion that appears in your profile and gains experience as you walk. This is one place the Pokemon Go Plus wearable comes in
You need to walk around to find Pokemon, collect items, and hatch eggs. You’ll know a Pokemon is nearby from the bottom right of your screen, which gives you an idea of the Pokemon that are in your area, as well as approximately where they are.
The distribution and concentration of Pokemon can vary wildly depending on your area. Niantic has tweaked spawn rates several times, but
A word about spawns: Their exact mechanics are a bit of an enigma, but from my
There are a few key features you’ll want to be mindful of while on a hunt. The first is
Eggs are also good to have. If you put them in the Egg Incubator they’ll hatch after you walk a certain distance (2 kilometers seems to be the minimum) and they’re currently the only way to get Pokemon from Generation 2, like Cleffa, Igglybuff, Pichu, Togepi, Elekid, Magby, and Smoochum. If you use the Pokemon Go Plus wearable, you’ll also have a much easier time hatching eggs because it’s more likely to register steps when you’re walking.
If you want to capture lots of Pokemon, your best bet is to find lure modules. They’re hard to mistake on the map, as they’re essentially pillars of swirling flower petals. You can purchase lure modules from the store using coins (about 99 cents worth each, with bulk discounts), which you’ll need to buy with real-world money. Once used, they attract Pokemon to that area for 30 minutes. The nice part is that everyone in the area can take advantage of them, not just the person who set them. The Pokemon don’t run out—although they may leave—so multiple people can capture the same Pokemon, while it sticks around. If you’re the more solitary sort, you can use incense, another in-app purchase (which starts about 80 cents per stick), which does the same thing as
The third major landmarks are gyms. These can be found throughout the map, but from what I’ve seen gyms tend to be concentrated in the downtown areas of cities. There were only one or two in my neighborhood (happily one was my apartment building and the other is right across from it), and some users living in rural or suburban areas have reported having no gyms at all. Gyms are important because they are the sole place you can engage in battles against other trainers and Boss Pokemon, though it’s not in real time. Essentially, you are fighting the Pokemon that a gym leader has left behind to hold the fort. In the beginning of the game, you won’t have to worry about gyms, but once you reach level 5 you can choose a Team and battle to take control of gyms.
Naturally, all of this wandering around searching requires that you keep your phone on, and your GPS. The Pokemon Go Plus wearable or Apple Watch app can help save some juice by notifying you of Pokemon you encounter and hitting
Capturing Pokemon isn’t enough. If you want to become a true Pokemon Master, you’ll need to level them up and have them fight. As I’ve mentioned before, the primary method of leveling and evolving a Pokemon is by feeding them stardust and candy. There are two numbers you’ll want to keep track
Currently, Pokemon Go lacks direct trainer versus trainer battles, nor does it seem to be a feature that’s ever going to be added. That’s a fairly big disappointment, but you’re not entirely without options for seeing your team in combat.
As mentioned, gyms are the place to test your mettle, but
Despite the different descriptions and mascots, the teams are pretty much identical, so there’s no need to agonize over your choice. However, your neighborhood may favor one team over the others, which makes it beneficial to pick the one that dominates. The gyms in my area are dominated by Team Mystic, so that’s what I went with, much to the annoyance of my Team Valor friends.
After choosing a team you can jump right into gym battles. Go to a gym led by an opposing team and you can fight them to become a gym leader. On the occasions when I was able to battle and the app didn’t freeze, it was a ridiculously fun. You can launch a battle using basic attacks or charged up special attacks. There’s an element of strategy that comes from knowing which attack to use, and when. You can also dodge incoming enemy attacks, swap out members of your team, and use items to heal and revive your Pokemon.
If you successfully win a gym battle, you take over the gym on behalf of your team. The benefits of this are manifold. You get bonuses such as experience points for every day you control the gym, and you also get to have one of your captured Pokemon parked on it. Members of the same team can place Pokemon at the location to defend it. Prestige is gained by winning battles and lost by losing them. A gym with higher prestige can be defended by more Pokemon at one time, which makes it harder to capture.
It used to be that the longer you
These changes aren’t likely to make
For higher level players, Pokemon Go now offers the opportunity to fight in raid battles, thanks to a recent update. Once you hit level 20, you can access raid events in which a powerful Boss Pokemon appears at certain times of the day. If there’s one happening close to you, you get a notification and have the chance to join. One caveat is that you’ll need a Raid Pass or Premium Raid Pass in order to join a raid. These can be gotten by going to a gym and spinning the photo disc. Only one raid pass can be used a day, otherwise, you need to purchase a Premium Raid Pass from the shop to participate in raid battles more often. Either way, you turn in your pass in exchange for joining the raid.
All raid battles—identified by a floating egg that starts hatching to show when the battle starts—take place at gyms, so you can quickly head straight there and team up with groups of other players (up to a maximum of 20 in a group) to take down the Boss Pokemon. Raid battles range in difficulty from level 1 to level 5. At higher
Raid battles are a fun new mechanic and a nice twist on the typical gym battle, but they present a high barrier to entry for a new
Either way, there’s no doubt gym battles and raids are the most engaging and hands-on aspects of Pokemon Go, due to their competitive nature. They’re easy to grasp, and while old hands might grumble about how the battle mechanic isn’t ported over straight from previous Pokemon games, remember that this is a free app, and Nintendo probably doesn’t want to undercut sales of the actual paid Pokemon games. However, it is unfortunate that trainer versus trainer battles likely won’t be included.
It’s Always Been Our Dream. Pokemon!
Pokemon Go has proven to be both a fun experience, and its mixed sense of nostalgia, openness, and social interaction is unmatched in the space. Most of the earlier issues with the servers are gone and bugs have been fixed, making the game much better than when I first tried it. Interest in the game has undeniably diminished from its peak of 20 million active users to the 8 million or so at the time of this writing, but the game is still going strong. New Pokemon have been added, team battles
Newbie Pokemon trainers should read Pokemon Go: How to Get Started and Catch ‘Em All. If you’re a business owner who wants to get in on the phenomenon, you might want to check out Pokemon Go: How the