Ready, Set, Pokémon GO!

Put on your walking shoes and a hat you can turn backwards when walking through tall grass, because it’s time to play Pokemon GO! And trust me, you’re going to want to go, go, go!

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was…

I awoke strangely early this Thursday in July of 2016. It was 7/7, a lucky day indeed. Pokémon GO was available for download on IOS and Android and the dreams of a generation were coming true. I spent about 20 minutes designing and naming my character and then, it was time…The three classic starters appeared and I was no longer in my obnoxiously hot apartment in the San Fernando Valley. I was in Kanto! I looked at the Pokémon before me, ready to help me on my way, and chose Charmander. We were going on an adventure!

To catch them is my real test, to train them is my cause!

The catching mechanic takes a minute to get used to and many more minutes to master. It is a drag and release motion that varies from Pokémon to Pokémon in terms of how far the throws actually go, so expect to burn through a few Pokéballs. But don’t worry, those are easy to come by at your local (or not so local) PokéStop, more on those later!

When it comes to the training of your pocket monsters, that is done through Stardust and Candies. Stardust is used on all Pokémon while Candies are specific to each Pokémon and their evolutions. Catching and hatching Pokémon are the main ways to receive these resources (unless you have some real world dough to drop on PokéCoins).

I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Each Pokémon, to understand, the power that’s inside.

PokéStops are the Pokémon GO version of traditional Poké Marts and are located at historical or artistic landmarks, marked by a special beacon on the map. Arriving at one will allow you to spin the piece of art around and receive items, usually Pokéballs! As the game progresses, however, eggs, potions and more will spawn as well.

Back to that not so local part, as most of us don’t live inside of historic art works, people are going to have to get out into the big, wide world and look for those PokéStops as well as Gyms. As people travel they will also run into more variety and volume of Pokémon. This real world GPS factor is not only great for the immersion factor but for getting gamers active. To play Pokémon GO, you have to GO! Even with the use of in game items that lure Pokémon closer you will not find Gyms unless you venture out to the marked areas. They are visible on the map, but no interactions are available until you are nearby. You also have to move to hatch those eggs! So, walk, run, skip or hop your way on out the door and into adventure! (And please, please be careful and watch where you are going. Moving vehicles and cliffs do not care if you are on an adventure.)

Pokémon! It’s you and me. I know its my destiny. Oh, you’re my best friend in a world we must defend.

Once you reach level 5, you will select you team: Team Instinct (yellow), Team Mystic (blue), and Team Valor (red). The team introductions seemed to imply that they would give the player advantages in regards to different facets of the game, but whether that is the case, has yet to be seen. I joined Team Mystic because 1.) Articuno and 2.) most of the Gyms near my house were controlled by Team Valor and I wanted to be able to fight.

Your team choice (as well as your avatar design and name) is permanent, so choose wisely! Your team determines how you interact with Gyms. Friendly Gyms are Gyms of your own team’s color and going to them will allow you to either train your Pokémon by fighting your teammates Pokémon or leave a Pokémon of your own to help hold down the fort. Rival Gyms are Gyms of either opposing teams color. Going to these Gyms will allow you to work toward taking them over through battling your rivals! 

Pokémon, a heart so true, our courage will pull us through! You teach me and I’ll teach you. Poé-k-mon! Gotta catch ’em all!

Overall, even with server issues causing downtime where the game is inaccessible, this game is Addicting with a capital A. So far I’ve logged about 2 hours playtime, 35+ Pokémon and more steps than I normally take in a day all before I finished my lunch hour. The trend of Augmented Reality games is opening a new world to gamers both old and new, literally. The blend of tech and real world makes for a game that let’s you feel like you are really on your way to being the very best. So, get out there and catch ’em all!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to let me know in the comments below what starter you chose and what Team you joined!