I would like you to cast your minds back to when you were ten. Sitting at home on a rainy weekend afternoon, in your hands resides a Game Boy. Inside is a cartridge that just became a global sensation, and now your new favourite game. The only thing lacking are the four AA batteries required to power the handheld device. Abject frustration starts to set in as the new immersive world which you have grown to love is now unattainable, and you slowly think to yourself, “I wish Pokémon were real.”
Last week Nintendo gave New Zealand and Australia the closest thing: Pokémon GO.
The gameplay is really quite simple. As you wander from place to place, be it your place of work, or a social outing, you can encounter Pokémon (usually a Zubat) from the original 151 line-up of the first generation games. Your camera allows Pokémon GO to make your real life surroundings the battleground. As you accumulate levels, you start challenging gyms and work your way to becoming THE ULTIMATE POKEMON MASTER!
Pokémon Go is an interesting app. It was always going to be a success from the word go, with interest in the game made up of half nostalgia and half curiosity, almost instantly trending all over social media. It’s helped by an interesting feature where you can take photos of the Pokémon in real life surroundings, turning the app into perfect fodder for creatives of social media to makes memes and other hilarious hi-jinks such as Magikarp in a pan, or Ekans in a clothes basket, that sort of thing.
The game also boasts a community aspect, with players easily spotting each other walking around playing the game and turning it into a conversation starter. Of course, that’d also require you to look up from your phone. There was also promise of the ability to challenge your friends to battle, though I’m not sure if the feature is yet to be implemented as I’ve done neither enough research, nor am I high enough in level to access everything.
Pokémon GO is certainly a novelty. As I speak, its presence on social media is slowly declining. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see how many people continue to wander aimlessly looking for rare Pokémon. Maybe, it’ll fade away like any other fade, as a thing remembered as “oh, yes, that happened.” But with the creative minds at The Pokémon Company and Nintendo hard at work, the possibilities are endless.
For me, however, it’s just a neat distraction until Pokémon Sun and Moon are released later this year in November.