Pokemon Go is entertaining and motivating, but the app itself is still a work in progress

pokemon go screen capture

Blazing throughout the internet and the world is the long-awaited phone app Pokemon Go, which gives homebodies a solid reason to crawl out from their cozy abodes and get a breath of fresh air. The game was released on July 6 and in a short amount of time, people of all ages have been roaming the streets glued to their phones and flicking their screens.

Initially, the purpose and mania over Pokemon Go felt motivated by nostalgia – an attempt to get the early to late 20 year olds back into a highly successful RPG that started to lose its spark as more versions came out. However, Nintendo, partnering with Niantic has moved on to a different platform in order to continue catering to its loyal community while increasing its fan base.

The gaming experience of Pokemon Go is entirely different from its Nintendo counterparts. First, there’s no story. Players immediately begin with character design, introduction to the game and choosing a starter. There is no evil organization that is trying to harness the power of Pokemon evolution or capture the rare legendary Pokemon. There is no annoying rival character. There are no in-game characters that a player is required to talk to in order to progress further. Players just start catching Pokemon once the app has finished downloading.

Frankly, the lack of a story makes the game better. The main goal of Pokemon, regardless of which version, is to catch more Pokemon and explore the world of the games. Pokemon Go does exactly that.

In addition, Pokemon Go is obviously more interactive than any other Pokemon game. Players can only catch Pokemon if they’re near it. Since its release, more people seem to be frequenting parks and new faces have been appearing around my neighborhood. The game requires players to literally experience the world around them in order to be the very best trainer.

A screenshot from Pokemon Go.
A screenshot from Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go also has two options to alter the game. Players can choose to catch Pokemon in “augmented reality” or non-augmented reality versions. By turning on AR, players will activate their camera, which will make it appear as if the Pokemon is sitting on the bench or on top of a car. Turning off AR deactivates the camera and will instead show designed scenery similar to the Pokemon DS games. Oddly, in my experience, using AR was kinder to my phone’s battery than not using AR.

Although Pokemon Go is fun and exciting, it is still in the working stages. When I first installed the app shortly after its release, there were multiple server issues in one day in random intervals. The server reboots also forcefully logged out the players from their accounts and reset all of the settings such as music or sound effects. It wasn’t until a few days later that the server shutdowns started to slow down and the app began to run smoothly.

Nintendo’s phone app in its entirety is quite excellent. The soundtrack is reminiscent of old Pokemon games with a slight remix. The graphics, for what it can be on today’s smartphones, are pleasing. The game, so far, is entertaining. Instead of drawing players into a new world, Nintendo is bringing their creation out into the players’ surroundings.