FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Pokémon GO – Gotta Catch Them All!

Pokémon GO has unofficially arrived onto the UK mobile gaming scene as of yesterday for Android and is now playable on iOS! That’s right, you can all get your pokey fingers on the title on both mobile platforms. Lubbly jubbly, now no one is feeling left out. To get started you’ll need to install the damn game which involves some form of mobile magic. Here are some links to help you with this:

Eurogamer: How to get Pokémon GO now, even in the UK

Macworld: How to get Pokemon GO on iPhone in the UK


What is Pokémon GO?

Pokemon Go
Source: Engadget

Pokémon GO is a free to play *shudders* game which utilises Augmented Reality to create an immersive experience. Never heard of Augmented Reality? It basically uses your phone’s camera to render Pokémon on screen. It’s as if they were standing right in front of you. N’awh, Charmander is so cute sitting in my garden.

The game also operates similar to good old Google Maps, you’ll be walking around the actual streets of your hometown as if it were Vermillion City! Except the people may not be as nice, especially if you wander into their garden to get that Squirtle. Sorry about all the trampled plants, Linda. Pokémon GO aims to give you the player the most immersive and social experience in the game series to date. What is it like? Let’s find out.


What is Pokémon GO like?

Pokemon Go
Source: Polygon

After two days of solid walking, I have come away with mixed emotions. I fanboyed the hell out of the initial loading screen, through to the tutorial piece and even at the first Pokémon I caught. Well, you don’t really catch the first, you get given a choice from the original three, Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. Obviously I go with Charmander because Charizard.

However, the game kinda dived a little, maybe because I skipped a whole lot of dialogue, maybe not. I still don’t care what Professor Oakenshield or whatever he’s called said. All I knew was I wanted to walk out my house and down the street. Enter my dog Max, he was going for his walkies whether he wanted to or not. Walking seems to be the main drive of the game, you can sit your lazy ass in a chair waiting to get lucky but you’ll find much better pokemon on the move.

My first real mistake was walking past ‘Pokémon Checkpoints’. They appear as key places on the map, so for instance on my map of the park I went to, the entrance counted for one, a few monuments dotted around the park also counted for a few and also the rear entrance was chucked in there. These checkpoints are key for farming pokeballs, growth and health items etc. I managed to walk past all of them before realising you had to spin the picture of each location. Only then do you get items. These same items can be bought for a couple of quid, but pay to win springs to mind.

No, I will never pay, because the park, in fairness, after a few laps gave me enough items to justify simply walking around the park. It’s healthier for you and doesn’t hurt the cheddar. Pokémon GO is essentially a real life walking simulator which your fitness benefits from. Unless you are walking into the middle of a busy road. Don’t do that. But seriously, a game that not only forces you to walk around in fresh air while keeping you fit, I can dig it.


Is Pokémon GO Any Good?

Pokemon Go
Source: Vulcan Post

Pokémon GO is by far the most ambitious, extraordinary and bonkers game I have ever come across. Phone games to me are centred solely around boredom i.e. Clash of Clans. A game I play but only when boredom strikes, because I love waiting two whole weeks for a cannon to build. TWO WHOLE FUCKING WEEKs.

Anyway, Pokémon GO breaks the free-to-play mold if you ask me. After a few days of throwing pokeballs at Pokémon, I can safely say I haven’t had the urge to buy anything. Even after my first battle, I just take a quick walk to the local war memorial and hey presto all my guys are good again. Thanks for the heal, dead heroes of the Somme. For that reason is where I feel Pokemon can be ultra weird and cooky. No disrespect to the war heroes of WW1 by the way, but why the hell is there a Pokémon Checkpoint there? Did they fight for me to replenish virtual items?! Weird.

However, take away the random ass elements such as that and the game is really impressive. I’ve found myself wanting to go out in the hope of catching a new Pokémon. This isn’t just a mobile phone game in my eyes, but a potential craze, like when the first 250 Pokémon hit the scene and we all went mad as cheese. I feel like I’m going to crumble in total excitement because Pokémon GO delivers the same buzz with a lineup consisting of all the original Pokémon. So fear not if you are an old veteran of the series like me, you will be able to recognise these classics. All about that Charizard hype!

Catching these Pokémon brings back reels of nostalgia, it doesn’t get old, even after 20 different versions of Drowzee. By the way, you should totally capture multiple of the same Pokémon, you can send them to the Professor for levelling items. After two days, I’ve managed to compile around 20 Pokemon which must be making my rival Gary jelly. Yeah, that’s right Gary I’ll coming after you in the local pub tournament. Bring your ‘A’ game bro. There is literally a gym right at my local pub. Pint and a Pikachu, please.

So, Pokémon GO is the first real title that manages to capture the essence of a true mobile gaming experience. It encourages gamers to get out and socialise, whether it be battling other trainers or simply going to your local park to capture new Pokémon. The game isn’t perfect however, it must be said.

There are frequent network crashes and the occasional GPS bug, but I can forgive them because the game shouldn’t even be available in this country. There’s plenty of time for these bugs to be ironed out, Google Maps or whatever it is needs updating in places to show newly built housing estates and maybe a clearer indication that you are close to train tracks. I know I can see them right in front of me, but I’m thinking of the rest of the populace here. There are bound to be some crazy accidents with this game for sure.

Pokémon GO has initiated a new wave of gaming, it has taken some elements of the mobile market but built upon them. I feel the game has got legs to stand the test of time. Especially considering there’s another 500 Pokemon in the later generations. I look forward to seeing the game progress. Fans of Pokémon and newcomers alike should invest in the download as you will not want to miss out on this strange yet rewarding experience.

As for now I’m twisting my cap back and I’m about to catch them all!

Po-ke-mon…. If you didn’t sing the word Pokémon, that last bit failed you. I am sorry.

Did Pokémon GO make the cut for our best games of 2016? Check it out below.


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