Don’t get me wrong. Seeing young people running around with their face buried in a phone or tablet these days is pretty much run of the mill. However this summer might see this a becoming more common sight… almost like an obsession – and you’d be right. Pokémon GO has struck and a new type of Pokémania begins again. In the good old days (around mid 1990’s to early 2000’s) kids – myself included – would huddle away in some quiet corner and spend hours at a time wondering the world of Kanto, Johto and beyond collecting little critters to fight our way to the Pokémon league championship and become ‘the very best- like no one ever was’. It was a simple time where your only worry was if you had a spare set of double AA batteries knocking around close by should you see the red light of doom appear on your handheld. This meant, come rain or shine, Pokémon hunting and battling was a safe, fun, harmless sport…
but that was then – this is now.
With rising levels of childhood obesity spiralling out of control in places like America and the UK, Nintendo have decided to make a game that makes you move and no not in a Wii Fit way, move as in LEAVE your house and go for a WALK… LONG walks! How? Why? Now pay attention. Everyone has a mobile phone or tablet. Chances are that at least half of you are reading this on one right now! We also like to keep our phones close by, whether it’s to check on Facebook, read e-mails and sometimes even make an actual phone call! Now most up to date phones have extremely good cameras that are fast overtaking normal cameras and recorders in day to day life, and it’s the camera that is crucial to making Pokémon go work. So you begin your game, design your avatar that will represent you as a trainer. Your GPS will then locate you and using a scaled down Google Maps, tell you where you are in your neighbourhood. So you start walking around, app running and phone in hand. You’re feeling good, then your phone buzzes in warning and you rush to grab it because it means that somewhere nearby a Pokémon is waiting to jump out. You check your phone for it’s location. Ah it’s in the next road. So you quicken your pace and as you turn a corner you are confronted with… a normal road. It’s no different from any other day but your phone tells you different. A Squirtle is there waiting for you and so (and this is the clever bit) you click on it, look through your camera and there on the ground in front of you is Squirtle!
You take a virtual Pokeball and taking careful aim to keep your critter on the screen, you throw it. The Squirtle or whatever monster you’ve targeted disappears in a blaze of light and congratulations- You caught a pokémon !
Of course they trick is to collect other Pokémon the more you travel. As you level up, the Pokémon you encounter become stronger and harder to catch, building up into a formidable team. It’s very difficult not to get carried away when a CGI Rattata or Eevee appears in your path way and you come to a sudden halt in your travels. Land marks like pubs or plazas will become ‘Pokestops’ where you can pick up supplies as you pass them… (but please don’t go inside and ask a policeman for six pokeballs). To begin with, these supplies are mainly limited to pokeballs, but as you once you reach level five, you’ll receive potions, revives and maybe even an egg to put in an incubator and hatch your very own little fluffy fighter. Reaching level five as a trainer, will mean you can also join gyms. These will pop up on your map and are pretty hard to miss. They’re often a landmark or place of significance in a town, such as a town hall or church so it’s quite easy to find more than one. Once you find a gym choose your team that you’ll represent: Team Instinct – Yellow –Team Mystic – Blue or Team Valor – Red.
Once you decide a team you can face off against gym leaders and trainers to beef your team up and maybe become a pokémon master. You can also become a ‘Defender’ by leaving pokémon at the gym as fighters. They will protect your honour and fellow team mates unless the gym is overthrown by a rival gang. If this happens your pokémon will return to you but will need reviving as it will have fainted. The conflict is not the conventional turn based gameplay that players of the original series will be used to. You will have to be quick on your feet to attack enemies and dodge their special attacks while building up your own.
In short I’m finding this game rather enjoyable. In face it’s one BIG drawback is it does drain your battery and is quite a demanding programme so make sure your device can handle it. Sure it has a couple of glitches like most new programmes and has been known to crash or lose servers simply because the popularity of this game was something even Nintendo couldn’t predict. What does the future hold? Is this a craze that will die out as quick as it appeared or is this merely the evolution of games on phones and tablets that will eventually wipe out consoles? I don’t reckon so but only time will tell
… now if you’ll excuse me there’s a Charizard outside my window… and there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.