After being released just a little over 4 days ago, Pokémon GO has taken the gaming world by storm. The new big thing has gotten people talking about it obsessively. Facebook, Twitter and other social media are filled with what-not’s of Pokémon GO and chances are you might have even seen people trying to their Pikachus, Charmanders and Pidgeottos.
If you’re a 90s kid (even latter) can tell how big of an impact Pokémon has been in their lives. Pokémon, short for Pocket Monsters, first started out as a pair of video games in 1996. Later, it was adapted to an anime series. Ever since, it has been a household name and its franchise spans to trading cards games, movies, manga, toys and even theme parks. Some of them even among the best-sellers. I remember, when I was around 14, tuning into Cartoon Network at exactly 5:15 every weekday and singing along to “I wanna be the very best, Like no one ever was…. and Gotta catch ‘em all, Pokémon.” A captivating story about friendship, sacrifice, a bit of love and loads of humor. Childhood Memories. Having anything and everything were more than just the latest fad then. Decades later, Pokémon still continues to be loved by many.
Its latest offering, Pokémon GO, has been a phenomenon in places it has been released. The search term Pokémon has never been as popular and the game has rocketed to the top of the Google Play and App Store games chart, making an estimated $1.6m a day. This free-to-play mobile game allows players to capture, battle and train Pokémon which are projected through a mobile to appear in the real world via augmented reality. This means you view a scene through your mobile phone camera and the game adds the image of a Pokémon character to it. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with Pokémon. A majority of the people playing it right now weren’t into Pokémon either.
Pokémon Go relies heavily on your phone’s GPS and camera. After installing and opening the app, you’ll be directed to create an account. You configure a character and then, you’ll be welcomed by a professor. Walking around, your avatar is on the phone and you’ll see a map that resembles Google Maps. You’ll see mainly 3 types of icons: Pokéstops, Gyms and Pokémon themselves. Interestingly, Pokéstops are linked to real-world locations and is like a pit stop where you can find item what will assist in your journey as a Pokémon Trainer. Items at those spots can be gained if you’re near them.
When a Pokémon is in your vicinity, your phone will vibrate and the Pokémon you’ve encountered will appear on the map. You touch it, and then the app will switch to its camera mode, where it shows the Pokémon standing wherever you happen to be. You even get to turn off the “AR” to get the in-built interface of the game while battling.
To catch a Pokémon, you’ll be needing Pokéballs. You’ll be given some by the professor right at the beginning. You can find more by checking in at Pokéstops. You catch more Pokémon and you level up and then can fight using them as in the anime. To fight, you need to go to a gym, which can be seen on the map. It’s a tall tower with a Pokémon on top. That one sitting there is the current champion of that gym. But it is only possible after you reach level 5. After reaching level 5, you’ll be prompted to join one of three teams: Mystic, Valor or Instinct. Each tower has a color which shows which of the three Pokémon trainer teams it belongs to.
You’ll collect more powerful Pokémon as you level up by walking around and collecting them and checking Pokéstops for items. You can also make the ones you have better by using items you earn by collecting a bunch of Pokémon of a certain type, and you can also evolve the Pokémon into newer and better forms. So if the ones at the gym seem hopelessly overwhelming, don’t worry about it just yet. It’s just a matter of sticking with it.
While “Pokémon GO” is a free game, it offers in-app purchases. You can spend money on coins which can in turn be used to buy items: Pokéballs, egg incubators, extra storage space for Pokémon or items and anything else aside from the Pokémon themselves. The purchasable items are really just time savers, though, as you don’t need them to do anything.
There is so much more to Pokémon GO. It’s only on its fourth full-day release. There have been reports that the newer versions will allow trainers to trade Pokémon, making it the Pokémon experience even better. I’ve been having a good time playing it and so are my friends and cousins. And it is slowly creating its buzz in Nepal. I read an article about how people are getting their share of “Pokéxercises”, stating it as “a global conspiracy to make people go outside.”
However, Pokémon GO is not free of criticisms and controversies. From careless driving, road crossing, being mugged and even an instance of finding a dead body while looking for Pokémon. You can read some here. And no doubt, more controversial news and stories will come in the days and weeks to come. I pray that the positive of this wonderful game isn’t overshadowed by negative stories as not only seems fun but it may help encourage people to be on the outdoors either walking or connecting with others.
Note: It may not be available at your region. You’ll have to wait for a worldwide release or download the installation file from third-parties.