If you have been following social media, and the real world as well, in the last few weeks, you may have already heard about Pokémon Go. You may have noticed some people talking about the Pikachu at the Washington Monument or the Rattata in Central Park. Chances are you’re wondering what in the world is going on. Well, the short version is that Nintendo and Niantic Labs released a brand new free-to-play smartphone game called Pokémon Go. It is fast becoming one of the most popular games of the year. Within two days of being launched, over 500,000 people had it installed on their Apple and Android smartphones. Since not all of you know anything about Pokémon and why the game is so popular, here is a little introduction to the premise behind the game. You will also get some helpful advice on how to succeed in your Pokémon journey.
What Exactly is Pokémon?
Over 20 years ago, the Game Boy from Nintendo received a new game. It was an RPG adventure called Pokémon. In this game, players had to travel around the world capturing mystical creatures known as Pokémon. They would then train them, level them up and send them into battle. The game became so popular that anime, TV shows, and comic books were spun off it. There was even a collectible card game. The game turned into a franchise that lasted for about a decade.
How Does Pokémon Go Relate to This?
Pokémon Go is Nintendo’s modern take on the games and the show. It is an augmented reality adventure game for smartphones. The game is based a little on the hit AR game Ingress from early 2013. It uses GPS and the AR system to allow you to go around your neighborhood and to other places, finding Pokémon and capturing them. It makes use of your phone’s rear camera to show you Pokémon in front of you or around you. This does lead to some awkward moments, such as when you find a Pidgey on your toilet.
How Do I Catch Them?
When you walk around with the app open and your camera working, you will see a map on the screen. Pokémon appear in a small radius around your current position. You usually see a picture of the Pokémon, but sometimes you might see a little gust of leaves instead. This is an indicator that one of the rarer Pokémon in the game is around. You also see a small bar in the bottom right of your screen that shows you the possible types of Pokémon in the area. Each Pokémon has a number of footprints under it, to show you how far away it is.
When you do find a Pokémon, it will appear as an icon on your screen. Tapping on it starts a “battle”. You are notified that a wild Pokémon has appeared. The game supplies you with a limited number of Pokéballs. These are used to capture the Pokémon and keep them as your own. Players have to throw the Pokeballs at the Pokémon that has appeared. This can be quite frustrating, as it has to be timed exactly right.
Starting Out on Your Pokémon Adventure
Just like the games before it, you are presented with a set of Starter Pokémon. You must pick one of these to begin your adventure. The three options available are the Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur. Squirtle is a Water type Pokémon, Charmander plays with fire, and Bulbasaur is a Grass Pokémon. There are also many options for other types, such as flying, bug, poison, ground, rock, ghost, electric, dragon, psychic and fairy Pokémon.
One thing you need to remember is that each type is weak against some types and strong against others. For example, Electric type Pokémon can easily overpower Water types, while Water types are strong against Rock Pokémon. The game notifies you if the type you are using is weak against the type that is battling you.
Once you have chosen a starter Pokémon, you have to give it a name. After this, you venture out into the world to train your new Pokémon and catch more!
Training Your Pokémon
Unlike many other games, Pokémon in this game don’t have their own levels. Instead, they can be powered up using a variety of food items like candy and stardust. Candy is found when you capture more Pokémon of the same species, and stardust is found every time you capture a new Pokémon. Many Pokémon can also evolve, which is a process by which it morphs into a bigger, stronger Pokémon with more abilities. A good example is Squirtle, who can be evolved using Squirtle Candy into Wartortle, and then into Blastoise.
A quick tip that can be given when catching and training Pokémon is never to focus on a single type. Make sure that you have a team of Pokémon with different abilities and types, so that you can be ready for any battles that might come your way.
In the original games, Battles were turn-based events. Players got one move, then the other player or AI got one, and it would alternate between the two. In Pokémon Go, the battles are fought in real time. Players need to swipe left and right to dodge attacks, and tap to attack on their own. Catching wild Pokémon doesn’t require you to battle them first, whereas in the original series you had to weaken them before throwing a Pokeball.
However, player-player battles can occur at Pokémon gyms all over the place. Gyms are, canonically, the homes and training arenas for players with the most powerful Pokémon. You had to beat the Gym Leader in each city to receive their badge, and so on until enough badges were collected to enter the Pokémon League. In Pokémon Go, the gyms are centered around landmarks in real places. While there is no gym leader, the gyms are protected by one of three teams – Valor, Instinct and Mystic. You will be prompted to pick a team when you hit level 5 on your character.
Teams can battle each other for control of a Gym. If the attacker can defeat all of the defender’s Pokémon around the Gym, leadership is transferred to the victor. After taking control of a gym, you get to leave one of your Pokémon behind at the gym to defend it from other teams. You also gain a ton of XP for seizing it, which will help you level up more. Leaving your Pokémon at a Gym allows you to gain bonus Poké coins (in-game currency used to buy candy and stardust from the store) every day.
You are also allowed to battle your own Pokémon at gyms so that you can train them, leading to the gym leveling up. Each level grants bonus perks to the team that controls it.
Pokémon Go is an app that is taking the world by storm. It is fast becoming incredibly popular in all social circles. As of now, there is no real end-game for players, meaning that it can go on forever. It makes for a really fun, nostalgic experience. While it does devour the phone battery, it can be pretty worth it. Watch out for some tips and tricks for this game coming soon!