Let’s be honest, most of us have caught the Pokémon GO fever for the last few days. I went for a walk, for Pokémon. All I could do was be angry at why the hell no Pokémon were showing up on this damn track. But when they did, it was glorious! Watching their weird animated perky characters flail about with the Augmented Reality is hilarious, and seeing where some people have found their Pokémon the last couple days hasn’t gotten old, just yet. But the novelty of the game has washed away a large amount of the negativity surrounding it. It was only after the game failed to save that I had caught a really high-level Pidgeotto, that my euphoria turned introspection.
Pokémon GO isn’t an especially new idea. In fact, the creators of the game, Niantic Inc., were also the developers of Ingress. If you ever hopped on Ingress -and it is unlikely you did, given it was in no way as mainstream as Pokémon, it is pretty much the same game. There are monuments to go to and collect resources (just like Pokéstops), and relays to hack and take over for your team (gyms). Ingress ultimately headed in a very dark direction, as some individuals in certain places went too far; they patrolled the relays to prevent them from being hacked. I fear the same may occur for Pokémon GO in some parts of the world, but obviously, that is out of the developers control. Regardless, my point is that not much has changed from their first game.
The lack of deviation leads to the point that Pokémon GO is devoid of what really makes Pokémon special. Unfortunately, I’ve never finished a Pokémon game, but I was into the show when I was a lot younger, and I’ve played a bunch of the latest 3DS version. At least for me, the enjoyment I received from the game, and show, was obtaining/upgrading new Pokémon, and doing proper battle against other trainers. Pokémon GO offers a shell of this integral aspect of the Pokémon franchise. They essentially re-skinned Ingress with Pokémon and made it more simple for a broader audience, which is intensely apparent in the clunky and ineffective fight system at gyms.
Moving onto more specific in-game issues, the use of cars is an incredibly degenerative aspect of the game. It’s a difficult problem to solve, but the game is tarnished by how much people are ‘gaming’ the system. I love the idea of rolling around with your friends to collect Pokémon; it’s interesting when a game manages to foster this kind of collective movement, and more games should aim to do so, but it also uproots the online ecosystem.
Just like Ingress, Pokémon GO encourages ‘get-aheady-itis’, whereby everyone wants to be the Pokémon master, but many refuse to go about it at a more leisurely pace. I understand the urge, you want to win, you have some time on your hands and the game doesn’t put any boundaries in place to stop you. If people want to steamroll ahead, they should be able to, no matter what the game, but Pokémon GO just isn’t built effectively for it. Any authenticity of Pokémon is lost as there isn’t any real competition.
Driving while playing is an unfortunate side-effect, which, aside from being incredibly dangerous, tarnishes the enjoyable side activity aspect of the game. beyond collecting and upgrading Pokémon, there isn’t much to do with them apart from battling in the gym. A gym which you may never stand a chance against because the Pokémon inside is already ridiculously more powerful than anything you have, because you refused to get caught up in the driving mania. Or you just chuck your Pokémon in a gym and hope it doesn’t get taken over so you can collect your resources, like a less annoying cow-clicker game.
I haven’t even touched on the interface and buggy-ness of the Pokémon GO. It’s unreasonable to expect that the game could be free of issues. But because its sole purpose exists to catch, upgrade, and defeat awesome Pokémon, the considerable amount of server side shutdowns and glitches ruin it. That’s inclusive of the terrible swipe, dodge, attack battle system, which aside from being horrendous, also fails to register when you win a lot of the time.
For individuals who are using Pokémon GO as an incentive to exercise, good on you. It’s a fun little mini-game to engage in while out and about -even if you stop every so often and look like a complete tool to people passing by. But at some point, you’ll either stop because you got bored of collecting the same Pokémon over and over, at a slower rate, or give up because compared to driving, collecting Pokémon and trying to remain competitive while walking is a fool’s errand.
In the end, Pokémon GO will be nothing more than a passing fad. After a little while, it will have slowly died down and moved on into the ether. People are still caught up in finding their favourite Pokémon in the strangest places, the actual ‘gameplay’ element of it hasn’t sunk in yet. But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see; I’m happy just to watch the fireworks.