Today Pokémon Go finally arrived in Europe. For days we have been eagerly awaiting our chance to try the latest game in a series that many of us had grown out of. Be prepared, this mobile, augmented reality game is the gateway drug back into the weird and wonderful world of Pokémon.
Whether you were an expert back in the day with Pokémon red,blue or yellow or were just a fan of Ash and Team Rocket in the animated series, gamers of a certain age will have been exposed to the craze more than once. I played them when younger and have tried to get back into the more recent versions. Unfortunately, there are always factors that detract from the pure experience of collecting the pocket monsters and battling with them. From early indications, the mobile app Pokémon Go gets closer to the pure experience than ever.
Being constantly in your pocket on your phone, Pokémon Go, is with you always. Turning it on greets you with a sat nav type view of your surroundings. There are pictures of what Pokémon are nearby and a footprint symbol to show how many metres they are away from you. You simply walk to find more and then try to catch them in an augmented reality minigame akin to paper toss. You see the Pokémon in your won world through the camera and then throw the Pokéball to try and catch them, it is as simple as that. At this stage there is no need to worry about breeding, evolving training or even battling, the main hook of the game is what it should be. Gotta catch em all!
There are deeper elements for those who want them. You can delve into the dark world of in-app purchases to earn in-game currency to train and evolve your creatures. The other way to get them is to walk around your local area and look for Pokéstops where you can refuel your Pokéballs and more. The name of the game is getting out and about. Unless you are lucky enough or unlucky enough to have your house chosen as a Pokéstop or gym. In fact, there are reports of real world crime happening because of the nature of the game. Muggers have been waiting where people gather to steal their possessions. It is sad but also an indication of how quickly this game has become a cultural phenomenon. Every company and social media executive in the world is finding a way to #Pokémongo into their posts. But should you still be playing what is essentially a child’s game?
The answer is yes.
Even if this hadn’t been Pokémon it would have been essential. It is the best use so far of augmented reality and a real different way of playing games. It perfectly taps into the quick look at your phone that is so addictive to us all. Travel to a new place and suddenly you think the best thing to do is pull out the phone and see if there are any Pokémon about. You could really put the effort in and train them up to become the master of your local gym, but in reality, most people will have lost interest before that. It will be much better to just walk around nd enjoy the small time commitment needed each day to get a few more creatures on your way to 230. If like me you are an adult in age if not in mind, you will enjoy this small quest more than spending hours and hours learning the tactics and evolutions of all the Pokémon. The option is there for people who want to do it, for the rest of us there is the joy of being up to date with the latest fad and also knowing that you will never become completely addicted to it.
So how do we play as an adult?
Do not walk around holding your phone out – people will know you are playing. Take sly glances down to maintain the illusion of maturity
Do not scream when you see your favourite Pokémon in the wild.
While driving don’t slam on the brakes if you receive a wild Pokémon nearby notification. It isn’t a valid excuse for your insurance.
Don’t get upset if younger people are better than you. This happens in all games.
Don’t hunt for Pokémon in inappropriate places. Opposite sex bathrooms etc.
Obviously, there are some drawbacks. The game uses your GPS, so is a severe drain on your battery life. There is a battery saver mode but how effective this is,depends on how much you play.
It is a brave step for Nintendo to get involved in a world that traditionally they have shunned. However like the Wii and Gameboy, they look to have struck it lucky at the first attempt. If only they were as good at making consoles as they are in reinventing ways to play their games. Then we would be happy.