My first few hours with Pokémon Go were both interesting and frustrating. Niantic does a great job of weaving Pokémon into an augmented reality program, but the latency time between action and lack of explanation or guidance are definite points of concern.
Since the early inception of this project, I have always equated it to Geocaching; a mobile application that lets you find items hidden all over the world, using your phone or GPS system. When Pokémon Go was announced, I was excited to see them take that same style and apply it to the Pokémon universe. Interviews early on stated, “You’ll always be within 5 minutes walk of a Pokémon.” I can confirm that is an accurate representation.
After a slew of server issues, I was able to login to the App at my house, and instantly catch Charmander, who was apparently hiding in my bedroom with my wife and I totally unaware. At the base of your screen, you’ll see a Pokéball, that will need to be swiped toward the Pokémon you want to catch.The first Pokémon may be free, the rest will require you to explore the world around you. And so with my wife and daughter in tow, I fired up my app with 51% battery, and struck on a walk to find what Pokémon lived around our neighborhood.
It took maybe two minutes for my GPS to filter into Pokémon GO to realize I was walking, and about another two minutes before I ran across my first Pokémon. My first two throws were off on either side of the Pidgey, but the 3rd one caught him. Each Pokémon you collect have their own set of stats you should (If you’re a Pokémon gamer) recognize. The key components to these are their Combat Points, Hit Points, Type, Weight, Height, and the ability to Power Up and/or Evolve them.
Evolution is based on the amount of candy you have to feed your Pokémon. Thus, the importance of duplicates arises. The more duplicates you have, the faster you can evolve your character by using the candy you get from sending your duplicate Pokémon back to the professor, or using the Stardust you collect on your journey (like I did below with Charmander, renamed as Fire Balls because you can do that.)
The longer we walked, the more Pokémon, item-stops and gyms I found. As I said in the beginning, the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining what to do, so I spent a lot of time tapping different features on the landmark I was standing at before I found out you had to swipe it to unlock it. Which gave me three Pokéballs and an egg (which you have to incubate by walking).
When it comes to Pokémon Gyms, you’ve got to become a level 5 trainer before you do. I hadn’t reached that part as of this article, but my friend, Ryan, had and shared the value of unlocking a gym.
“You will be asked to pick a team (red, blue, or yellow) then put a single Pokémon up to guard it,” Ryan said. “Others can come attack it and lower your control over the gym until it can be taken for their team. Honestly taking a gym without a fight isn’t satisfying. I need some challengers up in hurr.”
He finished by saying that the item-stops have a 5 minute cool down. So if you’ve got a good lap and some time to kill, chances are you can level up and gain items pretty quickly.
All in, this app is off to a solid start. Until more people start playing and obviously we all spend more time, we can’t really give Pokémon Go a fair shake. But it is worth noting that the App encourages you to get off your rear end and go explore your neighborhoods. And while my wife could care less about Pokémon, she enjoyed walking with my daughter and I, which builds the possibility for this becoming not only an individual pursuit of greatness, but a game that families can play together. They might not all care for the content, but spending time together is never a bad thing.
I’m looking forward to catching, training, and fighting more Pokémon in the weeks to come. A lot of my friends have downloaded the App and only time will tell when we start facing off against one another. Is this App great? No, not yet There is a lot of work to be done to speed up the interfacing. But it has a lot of potential, and the Pokémon Company and Niantic have the resources to listen to feedback, tweak, patch, and turn this into an augmented reality game loved by a new generation of mobile gamer’s. If this is a developers way of testing the waters of augmented reality, it’s a pretty solid test.
Devon McCarty wants to catch em’ all. And then give them silly nicnames. You can hit him up on the Watch. Chat. Play! Facebook page , chat to Devon @DesignatedDevon via Twitter or just drop some sweet comment love here.