At first glance, it looks like most AR games. It has a map over view, player icons, and menu buttons. That’s where all the similarities stop. This game has proven to be much more.
When you first begin, you meet a new professor. Prof. Willow. He looks like a man you find doing triathlons in a lab coat. He explains to you the Pokémon AR, and most of his directions are very clear. You’re first Pokémon he spawns near you. I picked Squirtle, as Bulbasaur and Charmander were not as close. He tells you how to catch it, and even shows you the Pokédex. Much of this is basic game play.
The maps use the real world, and if you let it use your camera, you can have Pokémon in the real world! This is awesome, but to help save power, you can use their own background which looks like its part of the normal games. Finding Pokémon is actually more like hunting and exploring then just walking and running. The game has a warning, saying to pay attention to surroundings. This is important. Police do not want you in the station looking for a Pokémon. Just don’t.
Finding Pokémon is actually easy. Using the nearby tab in the bottom right. The list for it begins in the top left as the closest, and bottom right as farthest away. The more footprints, up to 3, the farther it is. The fewer, the closer. IF IT HAS NONE CATCH THAT F*CKER! If you fail to catch the Pokémon, the run off in a puff of smoke, and any pokéball you throw, if it misses, is gone. Much of the Gameboy games and ds games has been kept for this, and has added a difficulty that can be addicting.
As a gen 1 Pokémon player, and an old anime fan, I find this game truly brings up some of what you actually see in the Pokémon world. While you can carry as many Pokémon as you have room for, this is also seen in the Indigo league episode where Ash gets Charmander. Damien has lots of Pokémon, but no badges, showing he isn’t part of a league, well, not the same as Ash. This game is encouraging, as it will help many find more reason to get up and move, and when the go watch hits shelves, the game will have a whole new stage. I do find refreshing, a simplicity they kept to make the Pokémon yours. The nickname button is the pen next to their default species name. Tap that and you can name them as you like!
Find Poké-stops, you will want these. They give you free items, anything from pokéballs to eggs. Yes, Pokémon eggs hatch by walking them. 2km was the lowest I got, and have given me a Magikcarp and my Bulbasaur. The eggs distance is accumulative, so it doesn’t have to be all at once.
Pokemon lack levels, this is where things change greatly just on this. They have CP or combat power. The higher the CP, the tougher the Pokémon. Evolution also has changed. No stones, just candies. The candy a Pokémon uses is named after its basic form, and many of them require 12 to 25 just for the first step in their tree. Second stage I have seen the cost at 50 and higher. The candies are not just for evolution; along with stardust you gather from catching Pokémon, you use these to power up your Pokémon. Any extras of a Pokémon, can be used for a gym, or can be sent to the professor for an extra candy. Either way, you win.
This game has a medal system, and many of these are easy to get. Along with levels, medals come with walking and catching Pokémon. Pikachu fan so far is the easiest, but don’t forget, every type has a medal too as I can see. Even trainer types get one!
Right now, it has only a few major drawbacks; these do not affect the game as badly as I may make it sound. In game currency, it’s easy to get, also only collectible if you’re supporting a gym with your Pokémon. Gyms do not have badges, nor is there a way to battle other players outright yet, it could also be that you need to be gym qualified, which is level 5, to battle other people. To play, you have to have the app open; this will eat your charge for a snack. In 1 hour of playing, my phone goes from 100% to 32%. This is a huge drain, as the game is graphically intensive; this also works to your advantage as you won’t be willing to play it if you can’t recharge your phone. The servers are an Issue, like any online mobile game. This is minor, as Niantic added more servers before the US launch, so ensure a global market that could sustain the demand. The longest it’s been down is 3 hours, and even then, people were online so it wasn’t every server.
Over all, the game has a lot going for it, and with the first release being just the first 150, I look forward to seeing what they do next. Who’s ready to catch ‘em all?
Here are some of the Pokémon I have caught so far:
Game information and general screenshots on the next page