In the past week all I have heard about is the different Pokémon people on social media have caught. I walk down the streets of my hometown to see people in packs laughing and enjoying their surroundings, so naturally I have also downloaded Pokémon GO! I have enjoyed all the exercise and many new people I have met through my journey to try and be the very best. On the other side I have encountered many server issues, lackluster gameplay, and a lack of in world interaction that has been a staple of previous installments.
Pokémon GO has become a gold mine of socializing over the past week, it is a topic of most discussions I have through my daily transactions. People get together and discuss the best places to find their favorite Pokémon and which ones they have already caught. I have also spoken with other trainers as I walk down the street looking for that Pidgey I need. I have also found myself learning more about my surroundings, for example there is a mural across the street from the local library and I finally learned the name of that artwork earlier this week. This social aspect and exploration is what I imagine Nintendo wanted when they commisioned this.
The servers are down
Before I even got the chance to even begin my journey into the wonderful world of Pokémon, I spent two days fighting the servers. This issue really set me back and every time I tried to log in I received a cute picture of Pokémon waving at me saying the servers are down. When I finally logged in on the third day I was greeted to not a single Pokémon showing up on my screen with an immediate message that the game could not find my location. Another server problem that became frequent was that I would see that there was a Pokémon located on my radar, but it wouldn’t identify what type it was or even let me battle it. These errors were incredibly frustrating and killed the immersion with these sudden breakdowns.
Pokémon GO has simplistic gameplay with the premise of walking around, catching Pokémon and gym battles. My major issue with all of this is the application’s battle system. When going into a gym a trainer will have to fight other players in order to reach the all powerful gym leader, and this is all done through tapping the screen until you win. This almost feels like a mockery to those who grew up with the franchise. I actually found myself standing in the middle of an alleyway pecking at my screen repeatedly. This monotonous gameplay lacked any innovation or strategy and required no focus to win. All of this pales in comparison to the classic Pokemon RPGS, where creating the perfect roster and planning the next attack was crucial to player success. While I did enjoy catching Pokémon in the wild, the feeling of satisfaction left quickly, because of how easy it is to flick a pokeball in the direction of what is in front of you.
A barren landscape
While the community for Pokémon GO is quite exceptional, the layout does not bode well for a multiplayer outside of gyms. Other than finding a local battle arena, the in-game interactions with other trainers are not present, even though interacting with other players has been done since the first installment. With such a community based concept, the developers should want to open up these social features are not present and made the overall concept feel lonely at times.
The Final Say-So
When it is all said and done, Pokémon GO is a fantastic concept that has a long way to go before becoming a full-fledged entry to the series. While I did enjoy catching Pokémon, exploring my neighborhood, interacting with other players, the overall feeling of it was barren and left me wanting more. This is currently an idea that has room to grow, but I think that it should have been tested more before being released to the public. I genuinely hope for the best with this title, because the community has made this app an unforgettable experience.