Poké­mon GO

PC Advisor - - REVIEWS -

The idea be­hind Poké­mon GO is sim­ple, but in the space of a month this aug­mented-re­al­ity mo­bile game, cre­ated by The Poké­mon Com­pany and Niantic, be­came the high­est-earn­ing mo­bile app in his­tory. What gives?

First, I have to level with you: I didn’t grow up as a Poké­mon fan, and I never un­der­stood what all the younger kids were so ex­cited about. I thought it was all a bit ‘sad’, but I now feel weirdly de­fen­sive of the game. Just the other day I had to hold my­self back when a stranger in the pub told me I was too old to be play­ing Poké­mon GO. Out­ra­geous.

When the game was fi­nally re­leased in July I had to try it. Too im­pa­tient to wait for it to be of­fi­cially avail­able in the UK I in­stalled it via the APK file. I’m not go­ing to pre­tend I sud­denly un­der­stood why a ‘screen­shot’ of Ar­ti­c­uno in a gym could send fans into melt­down, nor who is this Mew guy, or even why the Com­plete Guide to Poké­mon GO al­most overnight be­came our best-sell­ing dig­i­tal mag­a­zine ever, but I am just a few thou­sand XP away from level 23 and I couldn’t be more ad­dicted.

The fact I’m more in­ter­ested in hunt­ing EeVees (be­cause I still don’t have a Flareon) than find­ing a dress for my wed­ding next year should have been the first sign that there was a prob­lem.

De­fend­ing the gym at my lo­cal pub has be­come my life’s work. Ev­ery jour­ney in the car in­volves a de­tour via a PokéS­top (or three). I’ve gone from driv­ing maybe a lit­tle bit too fast to in­fu­ri­at­ing those be­hind me by driv­ing so slowly in order that my eggs can hatch faster. My phone is like a furnace from where its screen is con­stantly switched on, and my power bank has be­come less of an emer­gency gad­get and more of a daily ne­ces­sity.

What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t even like Poké­mon. But some­thing in­side me has been awo­ken and now I have no choice but to catch them all.

And it’s ex­actly this that makes Poké­mon GO such a bril­liant idea. This could be the start of some­thing much big­ger in aug­mented re­al­ity, and it’s the first time the tech­nol­ogy has re­ally met with con­sumers en masse.

Within a few days of its re­lease Poké­mon GO did what ac­tiv­ity track­ers have been try­ing to do for years. It has made kids – and adults – get up off of their back­sides and get some fresh air and ex­er­cise. We’ve all heard the heart­warm­ing tales of peo­ple who have lost stones and gained friends (or lost jobs and gained lovers) in their search for Poké­mon. Which is nice.

Poké­mon GO is not the kind of game you can play from home (an­noy­ing), and un­less you hap­pen to live in a town- or city cen­tre you have to go find PokéS­tops, you have to go find gyms and, most of all, you have to go find Poké­mon. Cop­ping out us­ing an in­cense – an item that at­tracts Poké­mon – on the sofa won’t cut it if you want to get far in the game with­out spend­ing money.

I’m still not okay with the idea of young chil­dren wan­der­ing around public places with their at­ten­tion fo­cused more on their phone- or tablet screens than the car that’s about to run them over or the ne’er-do-well who is about to steal their de­vice, but I would hope that ev­ery one of these chil­dren has a watch­ful par­ent by their side.

One of the things I like about Poké­mon GO is that it is gen­uinely free, and you can play it with­out spend­ing a penny. If you are go­ing to spend some money, you’ll more than likely do so on in­cu­ba­tors for your eggs, since you get only one un­lim­ited-use in­cu­ba­tor. You can buy PokéBalls, though these are avail­able from PokéS­tops, and you can buy in­cense, lures and lucky eggs, which are also avail­able through lev­el­ling up. What strikes

me as odd is that you can’t buy po­tions and revives, but that would likely make gym bat­tles too easy. Spend­ing real money on Poké­mon GO will help you level up faster, but it cer­tainly isn’t a ne­ces­sity.

What is Poké­mon GO?

For those who know noth­ing about Poké­mon GO, I’ll ex­plain it as I see it from one Poké­mon new­bie to an­other. There are more than 700 Poké­mon in to­tal, but only around 150 in Poké­mon GO (for now at least). Some are like real-life an­i­mals, birds, fish and rep­tiles, for ex­am­ple a Pidgey is a pi­geon, a Rat­tata is a rat and a Krabby is a crab. Oth­ers have less ob­vi­ous real-world com­par­isons, par­tic­u­larly in their evolved state, and I hope I never meet a real-life Rat­i­cate in the street. (The oth­ers are mostly quite cute, even those that can wipe the floor with you in a gym.)

The ul­ti­mate goal is to catch all the Poké­mon in the game. You can do so by leav­ing the house and phys­i­cally search­ing for them, by evolv­ing other Poké­mon, or by hatch­ing eggs which, again, in­volves leav­ing the house and walk­ing a cer­tain dis­tance or, if you’re lucky, hav­ing such a poor GPS sig­nal that your avatar will run around des­per­ately try­ing to work out where you are. It’s ru­moured that a fu­ture up­date to Poké­mon GO will al­low you to also trade Poké­mon at PokéS­tops, but that’s not pos­si­ble right now.

The Poké­mon GO in­ter­face is sim­ply a map of your lo­cal area, and as you walk around you might be lucky enough to find a Poké­mon, which will ap­pear on the map. You tap the Poké­mon to be­gin your at­tempt at catch­ing it, which is made pos­si­ble by throw­ing PokéBalls in its di­rec­tion. (Later in the game you get larger PokéBalls and Razz Berries to ease this process.) When try­ing to catch a Poké­mon you can do so from an aug­mented-re­al­ity viewpoint, which brings up the view from your cam­era with the Poké­mon over­laid and makes it look as though it is ac­tu­ally stand­ing in front of you, or you can turn off AR, which is less fun but makes it eas­ier to catch the Poké­mon.

Ev­ery suc­cess­ful catch gains you three can­dies of that Poké­mon type (re­quired for pow­er­ing up or evolv­ing that Poké­mon), 100 star­dust (also re­quired for pow­er­ing up Poké­mon) and at least 100 XP (re­quired for lev­el­ling up).

Also on the map, and usu­ally at places of in­ter­est such as pubs and churches, are PokéS­tops and gyms. A PokéS­top is a point at which you can col­lect a ran­dom se­lec­tion of PokéBalls, eggs, revives and po­tions, while a gym is a place in which you bat­tle and train your Poké­mon and is where those revives and po­tions come into play to heal bat­tered Poké­mon.

Once you hit level 5 you can join a team. These have proper names like In­stinct and Valour and, er, but it’s eas­ier to just call them team red, blue or yel­low (choose yel­low). If you visit a gym that is of your team’s colour you can add a Poké­mon to help de­fend it. De­pend­ing on what level is the gym you may first have to train it up by bat­tling with your own Poké­mon. This is a friendly fight and adds to the gym’s pres­tige, but the dam­age to your Poké­mon is real: stock up on revives and po­tions.

If a gym is of an­other team’s colour you can bat­tle it and knock down its pres­tige, even­tu­ally knock­ing that team out the gym al­to­gether. At this point you can claim it for your own team, pro­vided that your ri­val isn’t ly­ing in wait and ready to add in new Poké­mon the sec­ond it be­comes va­cant. (Which is very naughty, but also hi­lar­i­ous, and I’ve never done that.) Also, choose team yel­low.

Why we can’t stop play­ing

Pro­vided you’ve opted for team yel­low, and you’re happy to leave the house once in a while, Poké­mon GO can be a very ad­dic­tive, al­beit repet­i­tive, game. But this ad­dic­tive na­ture can also be a curse, and doesn’t in it­self make Poké­mon GO a

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