After much time in development, the smartphone game “Pokémon Go” arrived to massive success. While not on the same order of magnitude as the main video games that influenced it, it has become another worthy entry in the Pokémon series, further contributing to the milestone 20th anniversary.
Based on the concept for developer Niantic’s previous game, “Ingress,” the premise is relatively simple: using GPS technology that already exists on your iPhone or Android device, you can hunt for Pokémon in the real world. The result is worthy of its namesake while also retaining what made it work in the past: being easy to pick up and play, but tough to truly master.
When a Pokémon is nearby, your device will vibrate and the Pokémon will appear onscreen. After that, all it takes to catch one is good aim and a lot of luck.
Of course, there is still the draw of battling with your Pokémon; a simple yet engaging process of finding gyms located around your area. There are three distinct teams that all have different methods of play: Mystic, Instinct, and Valor. While there has been much online debate about which team rules the game, it’s best to simply choose a team that suits your play style best if you decide to play.
The game also uses the distance you travel while walking around to help hatch Pokémon from eggs, as well as gain experience points from a new update. This update also allows you to form a closer bond with your Pokémon, to the point where some monsters will perch on your shoulder (including series mascot Pikachu in a nod to the long-running anime series).
The graphics are also on par with the newer entries in the video game series. The Pokémon are rendered faithfully in a smooth and colorful fashion amid an Augmented Reality trick to bring them to life.
One admitted flaw is a series of intermittent glitches that have been known to pop up in gameplay. Sometimes, the game will freeze for no reason in the middle of walking around. There are also reports of the game issuing the “don’t play while driving” warning while the player has been sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. Still, with more updates on the horizon, one can expect the game’s performance to improve over time. the game setting new records among mobile games, it’s even caused a surge in sales of previous “Pokémon” video games across the board. Even though the game is by no means perfect, “Pokémon Go” still provides a great outlet for both newcomers and true believers alike to live their fantasies. As The Pokémon Company and Niantic have yet more content planned for future updates, the game will continue to prove that we all live in a Pokémon world.
Review by Steven Pryor