Pokemon Go takes us as close to real life pokemon as we’ve ever been, making them visible in our world through our cell phone cameras by the power of augmented reality. So toss a water bottle, some snacks, and a portable charger in a backpack and start your own adventure to become a Pokemon Master!
To be expected from most mobile games, there is very little plot, if any, and what might be there will be incredibly varied from player to player. You start by making a character, customizing their appearance and choosing their name, before you catch your starter. You can choose between Squirtle, Charmander, and Bulbasaur, or a “secret” fourth option of a Pikachu, who is revealed by repeatedly walking away from the other starters. After this, you are free to catch pokemon that randomly appear in the area, and this will typically be how you spend a majority of your time in-game. However, once you’ve reached level 5 you are prompted to join one of the game’s 3 teams, Valor, Mystic, or Instinct when you tap on any gym. As a game built around player choice and random encounters, Pokemon Go is very much what you make it.
Playing Pokemon Go is a lot different from the other Pokemon titles, demanding a bit more involvement on the player’s part when catching and battling pokemon. It’s also very important to note that gameplay heavily relies on the activity of the player, as walking and exploring the area is almost always required. Though it is possible to pop a lure module on a nearby Pokestop to attract pokemon, or use an incense on your person for the same effect, most pokemon are caught by going out and finding them. Catching pokemon is reminiscent of the Safari Zone, as you do not weaken wild pokemon with your current team, instead just throwing pokeballs to capture them or using Razz Berries to make the process easier. But now, tossing pokeballs now takes finesse and practice, as you may find yourself wasting your first few as you adjust to the new mechanic. Hitting the pokemon with the right timing, in the right place, while adding a little spin to the ball is the key to catching the more stubborn targets. Battling is no longer the turn based strategy we are used to, occurring only at gyms so far. Furthermore, pokemon can now be directed to dodge incoming attacks or use a basic attack in order to charge its special attack. But the match doesn’t ride on trainer skill alone, as a pokemon’s CP and type are taken into consideration as well.
Pokemon Go is quite easy on the eyes. Each pokemon has an animated 3D model, the map is easy to see and fairly accurate, and if you choose not to use AR, the backgrounds when encountering pokemon are quite well made too, displaying the appropriate time of day and environment. When using AR, finding a pokemon becomes a surreal (or a hilarious) experience. Seeing a pokemon in your bedroom might be unexpected, but finding a Magikarp in your frying pan or an Ekans in your shower might be worth a laugh.
Though the music is limited, the soundtrack is instantly recognizable and exciting. Pokemon have their own calls and many of the classic sounds, such as the noises pokeballs make, are spot on to memory.
The excitement of finding and catching pokemon never really stops, especially as you level and find rare pokemon more often. There is reward for catching even the most classically annoying pokemon like Rattata and Zubat, as they’ll always give you xp towards your trainer level and stardust to use in powering up your team. Even if you never visit a gym, there is plenty of fun to be had in simply traveling and collecting all the pokemon you can. The social aspect of Pokemon Go also contributes to how fun it is, as it is very likely you’ll run into other players in busier areas and have the opportunity to share your findings and make some new friends!
A somewhat physically demanding and skill based take on the adventure to becoming a pokemon master, Pokemon Go is continuous fun for a variety of players. Whether you prefer competition or collecting, these are easily had with any amount of time committed. You can easily be rewarded for playing between errands or making trips specifically to catch and battle.
- Gameplay – 90%
- Graphics – 80%
- Sound – 80%
- Replayability – 90%