Pokemon GO has been out for about a week now and I’ve been playing it non-stop since Friday and have gotten about 14 Pokemon total, which is pure bush league, and have spent a good bit of time trying to hatch an egg. That’s all well and good but how does the game actually work? Pokemon GO is a mobile game that uses your 3G/4G, GPS and camera to allow you to search for, find and evolve your team of Pokemon. The game starts like any other Pokemon game with a professor explaining how things work and asking you to tell him about yourself. This is where you create your character, pick out clothes you’d usually turn your nose at and select your starter Pokemon. When you select your starter Pokemon, Charmander obviously, you still have to go and catch him. I started playing this during lunch at work and on my screen a Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur showed up in world beside my character. When I selected the Charmander the game switched into AR mode (augmented reality) and it turned on the camera at the back of my phone. Staring at the desk for a moment I decided to move my phone around and didn’t see the Charmander anywhere. So I get up and start walking towards the back of the warehouse and I hear a cry. Turning towards the general direction of it I see it standing there and decide to flick the pokeball at it. Knowing how fickle the catching system is on the DS version of the games I fully expected it to escape from the Pokeball but lucky for me it didn’t. I decided to name him Uncle Iroh.
So let’s break down some of the information you see in the above image of my Charmander. The “CP” at the top is its combat power; how effective this Pokemon is in battle and 12 is basically nothing. You have some basic info on the Pokemon itself like its type, weight and height which are pretty standard. Stardust you gain when you catch a Pokemon. This gives you a total of 100 Stardust. You obtain candy also when you catch a Pokemon, total 3 per each one caught, but also by transferring your doubles to the Professor. To power up your Pokemon in Pokemon GO you need to spend both Stardust and Candy. However you might want to save those candy for later as you’ll need them to Evolve your Pokemon, if able, to its next incarnation. So as in the above image I would need 22 more Charmander candy to evolve Iroh to Charmeleon. How do I get more Charmander candy? Catch more Charmanders of course. So in order to evolve Iroh I would need to catch a total of 6 Charmanders because trading them in gives me an extra candy. The aspect of catching a Pokemon is very easy. Once it shows up on your screen throw your pokeball and you can catch it almost every time. Unless it’s a Zubat and it flies up into the air and your Pokeball lands under him only for him to give you this smug look of satisfaction. The last bit may not have happened but I can definitely imagine it.
The whole idea behind the game is for the player to go out and look for Pokemon in the real world. You can only catch certain Pokemon in certain locations. As an example in my current area all I can catch are flying types, Ratatta and bug types. In work I was able to catch a Staryu and in the park close to my house I was able to catch a female Nidoran. As you venture outside looking for Pokemon you can also come across Pokestops. These are geographical landmarks that you can visit to collect items, eggs and Pokemon but only if you use a Lure Module, which you have to buy with Pokecoins. You can also take over gyms if a landmark is designated as one. These are but a few things you can do so far in the game though the game itself is fairly bare bones at the moment. The only battling you can do is against a gym and this only opens the “defender” section of the shop to you to buy items. You still can’t trade, battle friends but at least over the last 3 days I’ve walked just over 5km so that’s a plus.
My main issues with Pokemon GO are all server based like everyone else. Pokemon take ages to show up on the screen and I think it has a lot to do with the traffic that the servers are getting at then moment. Then in the middle of catching a glorious Pidgeotto the game froze on me because it couldn’t connect to the server. Would have had a masterful Pidgeot right now called “ED FORCE ONE”. The other issues I’ve got is that the game is very minimal in that you can only hatch eggs or collect Pokemon. I assume this will change as the servers stabilise and the devs can move onto content creation instead of fixing the servers. I’m not giving this a rating because there isn’t enough there yet but so far I’m pleased with it. Pokemon GO interesting enough to keep my attention without being completely Pay to Win…yet.