While this game is rated E for everyone, this blog is not. This contains naughty words from its potty mouth author. If you’re under 18 or easily offended, you might want to piss off now.
A few weeks ago I talked a bit about my experiences learning about Pokemon as I beta tested Pokemon GO. (Read that along with the Idiot’s Pokedex here.) The game was released in several countries on July 6th and many of us have jumped right back in. We all had to start over so everyone is on equal ground to start.
Now that I’m no longer under any gag order and the game is official, I can talk some more about the Pokeymans.
Right now it’s within the first 48 hours and they haven’t exactly gotten all the bugs worked out yet. The servers are crashing… frequently … and the game needs constant restarting. If you can handle the frustration, go ahead and give it a shot.
The first thing you will notice is the extremely bright, slick-as-hell graphics. The entire environment makes the game extremely user friendly and fairly easy to figure out — not so good on your battery life, though. We thought Ingress was bad, but Pokemon Go will drain your battery by the minute and put an enormous strain on your processor.
Pokemon will spawn anywhere, and with only a range – no directional guide – they may end up despawning before you actually get there. In fact, even the range is pretty vague. You only get 1-3 footsteps with 1 being closest and 3 being “don’t bother unless you’re in a car.” In beta Pokemon could usually be captured within a 40-50 meter radius, and we knew because they actually gave us a number that made sense. If I had to guess though, I’d say that 3 footsteps is about 120-150m, 2 footsteps is 80-100m. Just try and cover that 150m radius in the time before it despawns!
Capture some Pokes!
You’ll start the game by choosing a starter Pokemon, and just like the classic games you’ll have the choice between Bulbasaur, Squirtle, or Charizard. Once you find a critter and want to add it to your collection, you simply tap on it and you’ll get the capture interface.
This is where a lot of old school fans have issues with the game. Instead of whipping out one of your existing Pokemon to battle for capture, it’s a simple game of skill & luck. Grab a ball and toss it at the Pokemon based on distance (this seems to have no connection with your real life distance, by the way) trying to get right on its noggin. There’s a random chance that it may escape and you’ll have to try again, yet another chance that it will escape and run off.
As you level up you can catch tougher Pokemon and likewise they will be tougher to catch. They have a rating called CP – combat points – which is their fighting skill, and HP which is hit points. Naturally.
While you’re out catching Pokemon, be sure to swing by some Pokestops, those floating cube things you see on the map. When you get close enough the stop will convert into a big circle. Click on it and spin to win. Gear will fly out in little bubbles. You don’t HAVE to pop the bubbles to get the stuff, but … why wouldn’t you?
Each Pokestop needs a 5 minute cooldown period, just like Ingress, only there’s no maximum spins. When they are purple, give em a rest. They’ll turn blue again when ready. There’s no map showing Pokestops and gyms, but if you’re an ingress player, you’re in luck. PoGo pulls from the same database as portals. Where ever you would hack gear or collect XM, those are good spots to go. Note to PokeVeterans: there are no centers or hospitals.
PRO TIP: Cell phone stores are the BEST place to catch Pokemon. They spawn the most frequently in the same places where you’d find a lot of pooled XM in ingress. The theory has always been, as I heard it, that it’s driven by the number of Google requests in an area. Since people are frequently singing in to new phones at cell phone stores, it creates a smorgasbord of Pokemon catching.
Be sure to check the “eggs” tab in your Pokemon collection and keep an egg incubating at all times. They hatch slowly as you walk and may contain any sort of Pokemon. You get one free unlimited incubator and can buy more (info futher down the page). Note that you have a limit of 9 eggs, so get moving!
Do the Evolution
Here’s where the game also diverges from your standard Pokemon games. Instead of capturing one of each and training them up to ULTIMATE POWER, you will want to capture as many of each kind as you can. Each one captured gives you XP and some candy. The candy is specific for each type of Pokemon, and is used to evolve or power them up when you’re ready.
Every time you capture a Pokemon you get 3 candy, and 1 for transferring them to the Professor for .. experiments.
You have a limit to the amount of Pokemon you can keep, so eventually you’ll want to start transferring them to make room for more.
I’ve captured my Pidgey and I want to level him up. I want to pick the one with the highest CP/HP combo to get the most powerful Pokemon. When you hit level 5, you’ll be able to start fighting, and trust me you want some power in your corner.
I have no flippin clue what Stardust does. Please enlighten me.
Float Like a Butterfree, Sting Like a Beedrill
Hey! It’s time to fight! Upon reaching level 5 you can finally click on gyms. You’ll also choose a team. There is no effective difference between them in terms of the game, so go ahead and pick your favorite color, or the one the makes the most sense or simply the one that your friends are on.
Thanks to djweso for the screenshots!
Each gym can have several Pokemon waiting to defend. Each one adds to the prestige of the gym. If you knock off enough prestige points, one of their Pokemon may get sent packin and return to its owner in a fainted state.
Scroll through the gym’s defenders, then choose which Pokemon you want to use to fight. You will need to beat all of them, so bring your best.
Battle time! It’s not turn based. Click furiously until your special move meter (blue, top left) is full. Some may have one big bar, and some may have several smaller special moves available. When full, press and hold to fuck em up good.
I brought my best but it was not good enough.
Now all of the Pokemon that I used to fight are fainted and I’ll need to use revives and potions to bring them back. This would have gone better if I had a couple friends with me. If you all attack at the same time, it kills the opponent faster. Cool, huh?
If you find a gym of your own color, you can fight your own guys to increase prestige. You may need to do this before you can add more Pokemon to a gym, if the prestige has been lowered too far. The tougher the guys you put in a gym to defend it, the harder it will be to take.
Check the store daily if you have Pokemon out on gyms. You’ll get coins and other stuff as a Defender bonus.
There are some bonus items you can buy with Pokecoins, but a lot of us feel like they priced the coins a bit high. If you have Google rewards credit, feel free to cash it in, of course, but I still wouldn’t recommend doing this until they work out the server bugs. If the server crashes in the half hour that you have a bonus item deployed, you’re ass out. Sorry, Charlie. Either way, I can’t tell you what to do, so there.
Lucky eggs will double all of your XP for a limited time. They are especially useful if you’re just starting since you’ll get an XP bonus for catching the first Pokemon of every type.
Incense will lure Pokemon toward you, no matter where you are, so if you’re stuck in a boring place without a Pokestop or gym nearby, it’s something to help pass the time. Put some prog rock on the turntable and those Pokemon will be all over it because it shows that you know how to party like it’s 1973.
It’s better, but …
This game has some significant improvements from beta, and from its parent game, Ingress. Without any communication between players, you feel both a disconnect and a bit of a relief – no one is going to be trolling you or your kids. It feels less competitive. You can go out and catch Pokemon with friends on the opposing team and not really worry about “win-trading”
However the less competitive nature also takes away from the addictiveness of the game. Again, this is sort of a mixed bag. Does anyone need another gaming addiction? We’ll still want to catch em all, but the shiny newness wears off rather fast. In comparison, Ingress is constantly developing with new features, storyline changes, and new players which challenge strategy in ways that Pokemon doesn’t offer.
Day 1: Everybody’s doing it.
My family went out last evening and accidentally played Pokemon for something like 3 hours in the Town Center of Virginia Beach. Right away we saw that someone had deployed 2 lures by the main road, so we walked over to check it out.
Everywhere we went we saw people staring at their phones. After playing Ingress for a couple years you can really spot the difference between someone playing an ARG or just texting their BFF. Most of these people were playing, I’m sure.
Soon enough I heard a guy say something about a Staryu. “Are you playing Pokemon?” I asked him. “No! I mean.. why would you say that?” He was obviously trying to play too cool for school in front of his girlfriend as they skittered off.
In between the two lures were at least 3 gatherings of people (not including us) all playing Pokemon. Another lure popped up over by the lake so we headed that way. Again, people were gathered around on benches, clearly having a great time with their friends capturing Pokemon.
“Oh shit! There’s a Psyduck nearby!” One guy said. “It’s over there,” we gestured to the east side of the lake where we had just captured it. “Thanks!” They all ran over to capture it.
We headed up the street to capture a new type that we didn’t recognize. Turned out to be a Scyther. A truck drove by and a guy called out “Did you get that Psyduck?” “Yeah!” we waved and they went on.
Server issues bedamned, we saw at least 40 people playing, just in 9 small city blocks on the first full day of play.
Sooner or later, some bastard is going to take it too seriously and turn it into an actual turf war. The “shiny new” may wear off in a week and fewer people will play. Heck, I may get tired of it. Until then, I’m going to make the most of what this game has to offer. Last night I had a few hours of precious quality time with my family. We all have jobs, hobbies and other responsibilities that keep us apart more than I’d like, but this game brought us out of the house together… and we got some exercise too.
When we came across other players in the field, nobody last night gave two shits about whether we were helping the “enemy” teams. We were just a bunch of strangers enjoying some blissful escapism.
Right now the world is absolutely full of shit. Every time you turn on the news, horrible things are happening everywhere. In times like this it is vitally important to find joy in life and make connections with other human beings. It doesn’t matter whether you do this though volunteer work, daily life, or some “silly game.”
Argue about politics and race and religion if you want. I’m gonna take a few minutes to play Pokemon and not feel at all bad about that.
What do you think?