Pokemon GO: First Impressions

First impressions of the game-changing sensation from Nintendo’s The Pokemon Company

Discover Pokémon in the Real World with Pokémon GO! from The Official Pokemon Channel

iOS | Android

In what is assuredly the gaming event of the year, if not the decade, the release of Pokemon GO, co-developed by The Pokemon Company (a subsidiary of Nintendo of Japan) and Alphabet’s (Google’s) Niantic, will be remembered for the impact it had on the future of course of video games, for better or worse. Anyone that has experienced the phenomenon can attest – nothing like this has happened before, so we are definitely in new territory.

Pong was a craze that catapulted video games into living rooms.

The NES brought home console gaming back from the dead.

Street Fighter II was a wave that brought the arcade its last era of glory and established fighting games as a major genre that would dominate for years after Street Fighter II’s release.

Playstation II is released and further merges entertainment in general with video games in particular.

The Nintendo Wii dropped and grandmothers and grandfathers the world over joined together in games of virtual bowling.

[Tweet “Pokemon GO is on the list of those things that forever change videogames.”]

If you live in a major city, you’ve probably already witnessed the late night congregations of people catching and battling Pokemon.

Here in Boston, there were perhaps seventy people in one area of the Public Garden alone, battling in the gym situated at the George Washington statue. It was a trip to watch, especially for a long time gamer. I remember the Pokemon phenomenon in its first incarnation long ago.

Who could have predicted this? Probably no one. The trailer for the game (shown above) was more wish fulfillment than actual game, or so we thought. In reality, the trailer proved to be quite accurate in describing what the game would be like and what the player could expect.

But enough babble, you are here to know about what the game is like, whether you should download it (it’s free but of course bleeds you over time), and whether you should join the throngs of Pokemon trainers in your neighborhood. In a word, yes, you should, download it immediately. It’s a treat.

It is a Pokemon style game that is influenced but not the same as the Pokemon games for Nintendo’s Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, DS, or 3DS. Using augmented reality and GPS, Pokemon spawns Pokemon gyms and Poke-Stops throughout the world that your player can use to fight other trainers (the gyms) or collect XP (experience) and materials at Poke-Stops.

You capture Pokemon using Pokeballs which come in various grades (for increasingly difficult-to-catch Pokemon) that you obtain as you build XP and gain levels, starting with 1. The level cap is 40 and is difficult to obtain.

Pokemon is inspired if not immediately a genre of videogame known as a JRPG or Japanese role playing game. JRPGs are known for story, magic, characters, design, and, typically though not always, a very grindy-yet-rewarding style of gameplay. Grinding in JRPGs is the act of building your characters levels through the most efficient method of acquiring XP available, thus making your character (or Pokemon) more powerful in the quickest way possible so it can take on the game’s true challenges and enjoy the depth of what is known as end-game content.

Getting to level 40 is an increasingly difficult hike up an ever steeper incline, but it can be done by those who master the game’s leveling system. There are best ways to do things in these types of games and, from the 60 hours or so spent so far with the game, it is no exception. Collecting, battling, and leveling all work together to great a cohesive experience, and it works here. Just know that you won’t receive the most powerful Pokemon right out of the gate, but down the line you should be fine if you have patience and enjoy the game and its systems.

The pricing is fair in the store and there are multiple ways to obtain the items you need to level. Like the original Pokemon games (though without trading), Pokemon GO is a community based game and it helps to play around others, particulary those at Poke-Stops who have set lures (items that increase the rate of Pokemon capture) on the location. With other people you can share the cost of resources and obtain greater rewards through shared space. Download it and try it today.

I’ll have some more in-depth stuff in the future if the demand is there (particularly a leveling guide I have ginned up). Until then, go outside and enjoy Nintendo’s latest insanity.