Pokémon Go went live on the 6th of July, and being in the “arse end of the world” [Australia] means that I got to download and play the game before many of my friends east of the meridian. Unfortunately the release also happened while I was at work, which did me zero favours.
It’s a pretty sizeable download (110MB) for the iPhone, but is quick to get on a 4G or WiFi network. Pokémon Go starts in the same way as most Pokémon games: you are met by a Pokémon Professor – in this instalment he goes by the name of Professor Willow and he is by far the hottest Professor in any of the games! The game avoids asking you the typical “are you a boy or a girl?” and just jumps in to you choosing your avatar.
You are then transported into an animated isometric map view of your current ‘real world’ surroundings, and are then given the option of catching a starter Pokémon. You catch Pokémon by swiping the Pokéball from the bottom of the screen towards the Pokémon you intend to capture. There is a white circle surrounding the Pokémon with a shrinking coloured circle inside that one. The idea is to time your finger swipe towards the Pokémon when the coloured circle is at its smallest. This is not as easy as it sounds because some Pokémon move about and put up a ‘fight’ before being captured. A green inner circle indicates an easy catch whereas an orange circle is for intermediate Pokémon and a red circle signifies Pokémon that are the most difficult to capture. Naturally, the more challenging Pokémon will require better Pokéballs, with Great Balls becoming available to players from level 20. At the start of the game, players are given a limited supply of Pokéballs. Thankfully, additional Pokéballs may be attained from Pokéstops (more about that later) and each time you level up. You can also buy more Pokéballs with Pokécoins, but then you are using real world money to buy “free stuff”.
Your phone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) keeps track of your real world movements in Pokémon Go, and in your vicinity you will see some points of interest. Agitated leaves indicate that Pokémon are nearby, walking near those will cause Pokémon to spawn around you. There are also Pokéstops on every map, which look like blue Pokéball popsicles. Pokéstops coincide with real world points of interest, like memorials, statues, plaques, museums, and public buildings. You can visit these Pokéstops to get new Pokéballs and other items. A Darwin Police Station issued a (tongue-in-cheek) statement to all budding Pokémon trainers that they do not need to physically enter the police station to access the Pokéstop. I can foresee some very interesting things coming from this game. Remember gamers: be safe when playing mobile games.
There are also gyms located on your map and they are easily identified because they are the tallest structures on the map. In Pokémon Go, gyms occupied by a trainer will have a Pokémon on the pedestal. You have to be at level 5 before you can participate in a gym battle, and catching pokemon is the best way to level up.
Pokémon Go does chew on your battery life so there have been numerous suggestions to carry a separate battery pack to keep your game going. The plus side to this is that it will get many trainers walking about and getting some exercise, and a lot of quizzical stares as you point your phone’s camera to random objects.
Now to catch some Pokémon… I mean exercise 🙂