Friday, July 8, 2016

Pokemon Go - The Outside Revolution is Here!

That's right, level 4!

To all of those I saw wandering the streets at midnight last night hands held out phones blazing, I salute you.  Last night I think I saw more people on the streets in America than I've ever seen before.  It really was kind of this outside revolution.

Truth be told, it should be.  I remember back to when Pokemon first whipped me away to a different world inside that tiny little game boy.  I didn't have a game boy, games had been banned at my house since my brothers had gotten into a big fight over the original Nintendo, my mom - well - she just threw it out.  I never even got to play it :( haha.  So I had to discover Pokemon through my friends' game boy and phewie was it tough giving that thing back.  I was addicted like a mad man.  Later I got deep into Pokemon cards (total nerd out here).  I spent tons of money that I saved from coins on these trading cards, and eventually I sold my whole set for what I thought was an awesome deal at the time of $60 (I probably spent way more collecting them).

I bring all this up because the Pokemon Go revolution is beginning, and part of me thinks this will be bigger than geo caching.  Already fans have created large databases and fighting spots throughout the world and it literally opened yesterday in the US.

What's the Point of Go?
Go is built to get people outside.  The idea is to build teams with friends and get outside and wander the streets catching Pokemon.  Once you catch them and get to a certain level, you can also go to nearby gyms, which are really just set up haphazardly throughout cities.  Many of them are in parks.  And there you can battle with other teams for dominance of the gym.  And like I said it's already off to a running start.  The gyms are already full and the wanderers have taken over the streets.

How do you play?
The game is pretty straightforward.  You start like in the classic games by picking your character's first Pokemon.  Of course, first you have to catch it, and you catch it by throwing the Poke Ball.  This can be a little tricky at first but the way to do it is hold the ball and then flick it up and release, the ball will fly according to how fast you flick it.

Once you get started you can then wander the streets or nature, really wherever, and look for Pokemon.  You'll see some grass movement when they're nearby.  Move closer to them and they'll pop up on your screen.  Once they pop up you can tap on them and you enter the screen to throw your Poke Ball at them.

Additionally, on your map, you'll see markers for item depots and gyms.  Gyms are where you do battle, and the item depots will have things like incense that draw Pokemon to you.  Eventually these depots will act as incubators if you have an egg that you need to hatch.

Your Pokemon also come with stardust (helps it become stronger) and Pokemon candy which is specific to each Pokemon, you need these in order for your Pokemon to upgrade.

Once you get to level 5, you can finally go to gyms and battle.  I haven't gotten this far yet, though, so more to come later.

Find a friend-walking around can be a bit dangerous, especially at night with your phone out at all times.

Be careful when playing this game, make sure to be aware of your surroundings as the only way to see the Pokemon is to have your screen on at all times.

Second, find a friend who can drive a bunch of people around and switch.  Driving works the same as walking, but don't try to drive yourself and catch Pokemon.  You will either end up being the worst driver on earth or just plain get in an accident.

The easiest tip is how to catch your Pokemon.  Wait until the inside colored circle gets its smallest to throw the Poke Ball, and you'll have your best chance of catching it.

You can also try to spin your hand as you throw it, and you'll get a curveball bonus.  This is a little more difficult and in my experience, hasn't yielded great results.

Another tip is how to catch the Pokemon you want to catch.  They really tried to make the game lifelike, so you can catch your water Pokemon near water, grass in grass or in parks.  More urban dwellers you'll only find in cities, and don't forget that there are also night Pokemon, hence the billions of walkers late at night in your neighborhood now.

On the bottom right of your screen, you'll also find an indicator showing how close Pokemon are.  no steps means they're right next to you.  1 means about a block away, 2 2-3 blocks, and 3 means you might have some extra walking to do.

Will it last?
This is a very hard question with this game.  It has a strong start and a strong potential, but there's a current problem with the ability to trade your Pokemon with friends and also to battle your friends.  The only way to battle is to take your team to the gym and do a group battle, this can, of course, be quite tricky.  Another problem is the fact that you always have to have your phone out to see Pokemon.   I can see how this will be extremely dangerous in the future as thieves can literally just wait for kids to come by with their phones out.

So personally, I think there's some work still to be done.  The game, however, has already achieved its objective.  It gets people out and walking on the streets and traveling around, which is pretty downright cool.

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