Pokemon GO is approaching one month of being a thing and it already breaking all kinds of records. It seems like anywhere you go you can find some one staring at their phone next to a Pokestop, or if you live in an area large enough you’ll see people stampeding across streets to find rare Pokemon.
A large part of its success weighs heavily on both nostalgia of the past and the intrigue of the future. 20 years ago in February, Pokemon was first published and it took almost no time for it either to become a household name. But back then, there were no smart phones or blogs. People found out about it in a much slower fashion, and yet it still took the world by storm.
Many people playing Pokemon GO right now are reliving those amazing memories, as even though Pokemon has never stopped, its the first time they have cared about it since. Why is that? Because the presence of Augmented Reality and the technologies that come with it loom large on our every day life. “Smart” phones are slowing becoming “Genius” phones, making the person holding them look like some one living in the middle ages. At this rate, the technology in our hand has grown so exponentially that 20 years ago when you were playing a Game Boy it seemed impossible to EVER fathom that Pokemon GO could be a feasible reality.
Despite this, it is indeed a reality, and realities are not always what you expect. Pokemon GO has been acclaimed by many, but it is a mixed bag for me, some one who has played Pokemon since day one and consistently over the last 5 years.
The Best Things about Pokemon GO
- Augmented Reality makes you feel like you are really a Pokemon Collector. There are some really cool pictures out there of people catching Pokemon in funny ways. Its worth a look if you are interested, and always makes me smile at the creativity of both Nintendo and the players.
- Nintendo finally gets the break it deserves. Speaking of Nintendo, they were really struggling these last years. With their systems’ being outpaced by PC gaming and advanced GPUs it seemed like Nintendo’s heyday was complete. There is only so much Mario, Link, and Pikachu can do for a company right? WRONG! On top of Mario Maker, Pokemon GO has single handedly restored their relevance if not their financial stability.
- Exercise while playing games!? This is a huge step forward for the gaming community, even if people don’t fully understand why. Of course Pokemon GO is pushing the VR/AR market too, but its also helping break down a stigma that is REALLY hurting the gaming landscape. You would be surprised how many people STILL look at gamers as out of shape nerds who have no ambition or desire to be out there under the sun. Even though most of those people are hypocrites, there is nothing the gaming industry could do to counter that with any strength. But now, Pokemon to save the day! The amount of people just I know that are out walking around their towns instead of sitting in front of the monitor is really astounding. I’m excited to see what comes next honestly.
Another amazing thing is how this exercise has gotten me to see parts of the map that I’ve lived next to for years but never knew existed!
The Worst Things About Pokemon GO
- The dream they sold us was a lie. Don’t get me wrong, I actually LOVE the Pokemon GO approach to this, but am also really really disappointed with what Pokemon has been reduced to. Battling is a complete joke, and basically everything you know about stats, evolution, and rarity is non existent in this game. It makes me wonder “what if,” but I know if the game were anything but collecting it wouldn’t make the splash that it has so far.
- Only Generation 1. Hopefully they have some BIG plans for expansions for this game, because if not I am very disappointed. Once again, I also LOVE the idea of them sticking to gen1 for this release because as I previously mentioned, there is so much nostalgia driven in this. But its about the time where I caught my 30th pidgey and my 50th Doduo that I realize why I don’t like gen 1. There is far too little diversity and even though there are still 140~ pokemon present in this game, you find yourself with the same ones WAYYYY too often.
- Prioritization of populated areas. This is a HUGE issue for me, and sadly is the reason I have had to stop playing the game. When it came out, I was on my way to a trip to the beach so I was extremely excited. When I got there, it was day 2 the game was out, and the hype was real. I caught all kinds of water types, walked the boardwalk so much I wracked up 600k steps in the 5 days we were there, and caught dozens of pokemon, often times just in my Hotel. Then I came back home to my little town and boy was I in for a disappointment. Most times I turn Pokemon Go on, there isn’t a single pokemon in the nearby window on the bottom right, and the only pokestop on either side of me is a post office that would be a 10-15 minute walk down the road and an abandoned church 10-15 minutes the opposite direction.
To me, this is them dropping the ball considerably. In the Pokemon Universe, Pokemon themselves love rural areas. You don’t find Doduo in the middle of Saffron City, you find them in the tall grass in the woods. But in this real world, I would have to spend hours walking just to find a single pokemon, and when I do its rarely anything worth catching. Meanwhile you see populated cities with Pokestops on every corner and people stampeding across central park to catch Vaporeon.
So while I’ve loved Pokemon GO and respect the massive influence it has on gaming and AR in general, I am really disappointed at what a bastardization of actual Pokemon it is. Its almost like they used Pokemon as a way to make this a hit, and I for one have mixed feelings on the topic.