Although it’s technically not ‘retro gaming’ I feel that as Rings & Coins resident Pokémaniac, I should give my opinions on the craze that has, not only swept the nation, but the entire world. For those of you who have been living under the largest of rocks and have avoided this phenomenon is Pokemon Go. The game that quite simply places Pokémon alongside you in the real world.
Based on the Ingress system, Pokémon Go utilises your device’s GPS and camera in order to transport Pokémon and the other necessary items into your immediate proximity. Real life landmarks also become Pokéstops, and give you the items necessary to attract and capture Pokémon. The premise is what every Pokéfan has been looking for, Pokémon in the real world.
So the premise is perfect, but how is the execution?
At this current moment in time I feel that the Pokémon Go is ok. First of all lets get one thing straight, Pokémon Go is not a game. It does not resemble anything like the classic games that are some of my fondest childhood memories.
Rather than a game, it’s more of a lifestyle accessory. Something to be picked up and messed around with during those moments of the day when there isn’t anything to do. When the game was first released, it was marred by server issues and lost data. It looked like it could damage the game’s credibility, but the strength of the brand allowed it to pull through and come out the other side.
At first I wasn’t too sure about the game, it seemed to offer little in the way of gameplay, and it was infuriating that there was a significant element of luck with regard to which Pokémon appeared near you. As time has passed though, I have come to appreciate it for what it is, it isn’t a game, in fact it’s more akin to a social media. I have used the game as both a tool to see the city I live in, and a way to pass the time between leaving my door and reaching the nearest supermarket.
On top of this growing appreciation for the title, I also love the way the game has reinvigorated the mainstream interest in the franchise. People who haven’t been into Pokémon since the original titles back in the late 90s, are suddenly leaving their homes to go and hunt down the Pidgey just around the corner. For anyone who loves Pokémon, there really is no better feeling than seeing everyone else enjoy what you love.
As this is a mobile game though, my opinion is constantly changing. In fact, since writing this opinion piece there have been two updates that have changed the game wildly. The first removed the guides to finding the nearest Pokémon, and increased the chance of a Pokémon escaping.
The second reintroduced the nearest Pokémon feature. However, with no explanation for how it works, this feature is almost useless. As such, both have made Pokémon Go considerably more difficult, and quite frustrating to play.
During its infancy Pokémon Go has had a number of ups and downs. And as it tries to find the correct balance, I’m sure it will have many more. At this moment in time though, I can’t see how I would continue to play it with the same enthusiasm I have done so far.
One of the main reasons for this is how the game still seems quite unbalanced. What’s more, following the most recent update, the game now seems to be ever so slightly balanced in favour the pay to win model. A strategy that definitely leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Nevertheless, with Niantic claiming Pokémon Go is currently only around 5% complere, there is more than enough time for this to be turned around. And this is no more true then when it comes to adding the other 600+ Pokémon to the offering. Alongside all the other updates that I can only imagine are coming, such as local battles and trading (two core principles of the true Pokémon titles).
Overall though, I do think the game is a great success. It brings the franchise I love to a casual audience, and has captured the hearts of the entire globe. However, at the same time it does lack that special something that Nintendo’s handheld instalments have always provided.
As such, whilst fun, I can’t help feel it doesn’t quite capture the true spirit of Pokémon that can be found in the main series titles, like the upcoming Pokémon Sun & Moon. Will it eventually capture it though? Well, only time will tell.