So, it finally happened; the Venn diagram of Technology and Pokemon crossed to form Pokemon Go. A game that's caused the world to become obsessed with the little cartoon critters.
10 year old me would be so happy right now. So why aren't i?
Lets back up a little bit. Pokemon has been around a long while. I've been a big fan since i was around 8, and i was given a gameboy colour with Pokemon Red for Christmas. It was great! It held everything a kid could want; adventure, freedom, acceptance, strategy, and friendship. It taught me so much.
I guess the one thing that always stuck out from the originals (except some of the terrifying artwork) was that the reason why you beat "Gary" (Or "Buttface" if you're mature) was that you cared about your Pokemon. Stupid, and lame, but when you're 10, this mattered a lot.
I wasn't a big fan of school. Bullies, being out performed by siblings or friends, it just made me feel bad about myself. I remember multiple occasions where i'd be laughed at by my sisters for not knowing a spelling of a certain word. Or i'd fail a test because of handwriting.
I Feel like there's a level of irony here that I'm writing a blog.
But Pokemon didn't care. It was an escape. My friends played it. We'd share tips and tricks. On the rare occasion, we'd trade. I remember one Friday afternoon we all ended up with Mew's, because one friend know the duplication glitch and then traded one to everyone.
It was just a game that didn't care. You'd loose, then go and train your Pokemon more. Winning by the skin of your teeth was one of the best moments. A lucky Thunderbolt hit, or maybe a cheeky critical hit. Oh and the music! Getting you so pumped when facing a Gym leader, or so nervous when trying to catch that super rare Pokemon (fuck you Chansey).
I guess i should do a little bit of a disclaimer; i don't dislike the game. It's enjoyable, and finding / catching Pokemon is pretty great.
BUT! There just isn't much to it. Catching Pokemon is easy. There's little to no challenge in it. You throw a Pokeball, it fails, you throw again. Boom; it's yours. There is certainly a thrill stumbling across a Pokemon not in your collection, but it's all down to luck on actually finding the sod.
Gyms are pretty painful too. First, there is little to no tutorial on how to battle (actually, there's no tutorial at all throughout the game), and it seems to be just mashing the attack button. Once you've built up a meter, you can do the secondary attack. Swiping left and right allows you to dodgeâ¦ sort of? In essence, you tap the screen until something dies. Yay. All that strategy. You don't get the feeling of it being a hard won battle. You walk away bemused, either with or without the gym. I find myself questioning why do i bother with them?
Then, of course, there's the Candy and Stardust form of levelling / evolution. As much as i hated this to start with, it does make some form of sense. It gives you reason to keep catching the same monster over and over again, and strengthens the reason as to why you need to keep wondering around and exploring. Pretty good synergy between mechanics.
Oh and of course; the bugs. Dear god, so many bugs with the app. It crashes all of the time. Failing to catch a Pokemon because you lost internet connection for 5 seconds is lame. Not being able to log in, or Pokestops taking forever to load. Just not fun.
Also, why can't you also collect Pokestops?
Plus, being on different teams doesn't seem to alter that much stuff. If it had more of a bearing, it might actually be a worthwhile mechanic. You can't see how your team is doing, so why do should we care? Will taking this Gym matter for my team? i have no clue.
As i said, 10 year old me would be pretty happy about this game being released. It brought Pokemon back into the limelight. I work in Soho Square which means i see loads of people each lunch time walking around catching Pokemon. Which is awesome. People chat to each other in the street! When did that last happen?!
Plus, all of my outdated knowledge suddenly has a new use. I can easily name the first 150 Pokemon, and wouldn't find it too hard to do the next 100 that came with Gold / Silver. Suddenly this knowledge is relevant again! Yay!!! I think?
So, i can't hate Pokemon Go. At least it's something. Focusing heavily on the "catch âem all" concept is a smart move, it's just a shame they've removed all of the skill/strategy that made me love the series in the first place.