The world changed on July 6th, when a free to play app called Pokémon GO was released to the United States via Apple store and Google Play. You’ve probably heard of the app and its booming success, as it’s almost impossible not to know what Pokémon GO is all about. But for newbies looking to learn up on the popular franchise, it originated back in the 90’s created by Satoshi Tajiri. It’s all about these creatures called “pocket monsters” aka Pokémon, where humans known as Trainers, travel the land to catch and train them and be the very best like no one ever was. It all started with Pokémon Red released on Gameboy, and from there it exploded in popularity, though it has died down in recent years.
Fresh off the plate, Pokémon GO is reviving the brand name. To give you a basic synopsis of what happens when you boot up the app, you’re greeted by Professor Willow who gives you a brief introduction of the game. From there, you design your style of avatar, collect your starter Pokémon, and then you’re off. Off to where? Well, that’s the real foundation of the game. To play it, you have to travel around your area to find Pokémon in the real world. Yes that means you actually have to get up and walk around to locations.
So when you’re out and about, your phone will vibrate telling you that you’re in range of a wild Pokémon. All you have to do is tap on it and throw a virtual Pokéball. As you continue your journey, you’ll level up and be able to catch stronger Pokémon. Once you reach level five however, it starts to get interesting. If you come across a gym, you’ll be able to assign yourself to one of three teams: Mystic, Valor or Instinct. There’s a constant rivalry between members to power up Pokémon and take over gyms by battling.
But back to the basics. There are landmarks almost everywhere in the game known as Pokéstops. If you get in range and swipe the icon, you’ll be able to get free things like potions, revives, Pokéballs, or even eggs. Leveling up to certain degrees earns you mods like Lucky Eggs that double your XP intake for 30 minutes, Incense which attracts Pokémon to you at a higher rate, Lures which can be placed at Pokéstops to attract Pokémon, and even better Pokéballs. Beginning at level eight, you’re able to get Razzberries, which increase your catch rate for higher level Pokémon. At Level 12 you can begin to gather Great Balls which have a better catch rate, and finally at Level 20, you receive Ultra Balls which are harder to find, but have the best catch rate.
Pokémon GO is kicking it old school with the first generation of 151 Pokémon. There are a few Pokémon that are region locked, or simply unavailable. The region locked Pokémon can only be found on certain continents or hatched from an egg. Also, there are six legendary Pokémon that have yet to be released to the public. The Pokémon you CAN expect to come across in your journey entirely depends with the area you live around. One of the most unique aspects of the app is the way they spawn in Pokémon. In Colorado, you can expect to see Pokémon that players in the East Coast won’t be able to find that easily. You also have to travel locally to find certain Pokémon. For example, traveling to lakes and rivers will get you water types, while forested areas will yield bug and plant types. And so the difficulty rises and the challenge is accepted. It’s a lot to take in, I get it.
Okay, so what’s the big deal about it? Its massive user base has a lot to do with it. You’re able to meet new people, see new places, support small businesses, and overall just (re)fall in love with the Pokémon franchise as you continue your adventure. Traveling to popular areas such as Denver, Englewood, or even downtown Littleton, you’re bound to run into a few players. With speculations to how Legendary Pokémon are going to be released in public events, highly anticipated trading features, new tracking systems, and the soon to be released Buddy System, Pokémon GO is just getting started on its own journey. The world of Pokémon is awaiting for you catch them all!