Pokémon Go Review! – 8.3.16

Reviews!

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I think my favorite thing about Pokémon Go is that a piece of my world is now being collectively enjoyed by pretty much everybody. I’ve been getting excited about Pokémon since I was 11 years old and now all my friends and family are getting excited about it too. It also, likely much to the satisfaction of Nintendo’s marketing team, has reignited my love for Pokemon, which is perfect because the new games, Pokémon Sun and Moon, come out this November.

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What Works About Pokémon Go

For the most part, Pokémon Go is pretty great. First and foremost, Pokémon Go is gathering people together and bringing them outside into the world around them. In the few weeks that it’s been out, the game has gathered hundreds for catching events and bar crawls organized on Facebook, gotten kids outside, and even facilitated positive engagement between police officers and their community. These are all very good things. Since I’ve downloaded it, I’ve deliberately gone outdoors far more often and meeting other trainers in my city doing the same has been a really unique experience. When people aren’t being idiots (e.g. running through traffic, trespassing, or catching ’em all while driving), Pokémon Go is an great example of how smartphones and tech don’t necessarily spell certain damnation for today’s society. As a side note, if you are also trying to be the best there ever was, please don’t be an idiot. There is no need to catch that Squirtle as you crawl through bumper-to-bumper rush hour.

Gameplay-wise, the app is better than expected, though by no means flawless. Scanning for nearby Pokémon, tracking them down, and finally catching them is rewarding and it’s a blast to play because you get rewarded with Pokémon for doing pretty basic tasks. By simply walking around, you can discover new Pokemon, hatch new ones from eggs, and collect useful items at Pokéstops, found at local points of interest like parks and libraries. As you progress, your character levels up, which means you can find stronger, cooler Pokémon around you. Flicking Pokéballs on your phone screen to catch the pocket monsters initially is challenging but functional enough after some practice. Even the Augmented Reality feature, which places animated Pokémon onto your camera screen, is pretty nifty, though not practical as it drains battery and makes catching more difficult. You can also use your Pokémon to attack, conquer, and fortify Gyms, for one of three teams, which are located in similar places to Pokéstops. Although, my Pokémon tend to blow so I’m not usually too successful. If you coordinate with your fellow trainers, you’re even more likely to succeed. Overall, Pokémon Go (when it actually works) does what it needs to. It’s a pretty fun game that is twice as awesome as it would be otherwise simply because it it is Pokémon.

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I do wish the game put street names on the map.

However

What Doesn’t Work about Pokémon Go:

The main problem with Pokémon Go is that unfortunately, Pokémon Go doesn’t really, actually work. The biggest roadblock for players is likely the countless issues with the servers. Since launch, trainers have been getting kicked and locked out of the game because they can’t connect to the servers. When it actually opens, Pokémon Go is often buggy and slow. Pokéstops frequently glitch out and the GPS connection is frequently lost. Because the GPS signal strength is so unreliable, it’s often impossible to tell what Pokémon are actually nearby you on the Pokemon radar system. One moment, the game is telling me I’m very close to a Vaporeon and the next moment, there are no Pokémon nearby at all.  Additionally, players who live in more rural areas, like myself, are often hardpressed to find both Pokémon and Pokéstops nearby them at all. Pokémon Go is a game that’s all about movement and mobility so when the app itself is slow or broken, the entire process becomes slogged down. Also, previously, the game showed small footsteps underneath the pictures of nearby Pokémon to give a rough estimate of how far away the Pokémon actually was from the player. As you would get closer to the Pokémon, the number of steps would go down and vice versa. It created a fun “hide-and-seek/Marco Polo”-esque game but with Pokémon. However, after the feature recently bugged out, Niantic devs removed the footsteps entirely and tracking Pokémon became random and disorganized. As a whole, it just feels like the infrastructure for Pokémon Go is just not quite strong enough.

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Niantic’s servers used Flail! It’s not very efffective.

In Summary:

When it works, Pokémon Go is a great time. Disovering new Pokémon , through exploration or evolution, is exciting, as is gathering friends to go on hunts to parks or downtown  It’s conceptually simple yet rewarding and well frankly, Pokémon is awesome. That being said, Pokémon Go can only continue to be as awesome as it is if the app itself is quickly fixed. Running around the local park at 2am is only enjoyable if I’m actually catching ’em all and not restarting my app every time I turn on Battery Saver Mode. Though its popularity initially skyrocketed, I could see that swiftly changing if the developers at Niantic Labs fail to squash all the bugs in the game. However, Niantic recently issued an apology statement addressing the game’s major issues, such as the footstep removal, so it seems things could improve. Additionally, while at San Diego Comic Con, John Hanke, Niantic’s CEO,  confirmed both trading and Pokemon centers, used to heal your squad. Based on this, there is hope for Pokémon Go being as awesome as it should be. Until then, I guess I will just have to get used to catching Pidgeys, Ratatas, and Weedles. As a side note, I also think Pokémon Go’s popularity will once again shoot upwards the moment additional generations of Pokemon are added to the game. Because lets be honest, Generation I is great and all but I think Generation IV definitely has the coolest Pokemon.

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Team Mystic, bitch! Articuno is the *ahem* coolest of the three Legendary Birds.

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