Review: Pokémon Go (Generation 2)

It has almost been a year since the hit mobile game Pokémon Go was unleashed on the world. It literally fueled interest again in the casual population for Pokémon, as everyone and their mothers was playing it. They would go, meet up in big groups, walk around and catch Pokémon wherever. Everyone enjoyed it. Everyone forgot about the bad things in the world as they played it. Everyone had fun and was enjoying life with this mobile game we never thought we would ever see. It was a phenomenon. And then it all ended after a month and a half.  All the joy, the talk, the catching with friends and strangers. All done. As fast as it came, it went away as quickly as fads do. It was basically how people thought that Pokémon would go in the first place when it started 21 years ago. But the games still go strong, as Sun and Moon came out not long after and everyone forgot about Pokémon Go. However, just because it’s not as popular as before, it’s still around, and I have been still playing it. There have been updates galore, for better and worse, and a ton of other features added since its first test run. Is this review a few months too late? Maybe. But who cares. I wanted to do this, so bite me.

Just like in handheld games, it’s pretty simple: Just catch Pokémon. The only difference? You don’t need to fight them to catch them. Just toss a Poké Ball or whatever balls you have, wait until it shakes 3 times, and ta-da! You got a Pokémon. Just like the games, you get a starter, and you walk out. This time though, you explore real-life and not the digital 3D world to find your mates. You walk around, they pop up, and you can catch them, if they don’t run away. They don’t attack, but they do have “Combat Power” (CP), to see how hard it is to catch them. The lower the CP, the easier it is to catch. The higher, the harder. You, the trainer, also have a level. You catch Pokémon to get better. The more you catch, the more XP you earn, and the higher the level you get to when you earn the amount of XP to reach it. Stronger levels also let you meet stronger Pokémon. When catching Pokémon, you also earn candy and stardust. This helps in leveling your Pokémon in CP and evolving them. There are other ways to earn XP than just catching Pokémon. You can hatch eggs to get XP. Evolving Pokémon will earn you XP. You can stop at Pokéstops, the stops around various places that give you various items, as a new feature for earning XP. You can be in Gym Battles, the only time you can actually be in Pokemon Battles, to not only earn XP and to help your own team, but also various other people who have align with said 3 teams on Pokémon Go: Team Valor, Team Mystic, and Team Instinct.  You can fight any team who you are not align with and take over the various Gyms to help your team be the best, like no one ever was. Along the way to fighting, catching, and doing whatever, you can earn medals for what  you do, too. Be it for walking a bunch, evolving 20 Pokémon, or even just catching  a bunch of tiny Rattata, they earn you XP as well. While these are the essentials to the game, the thing you do though is walk and explore wherever you are. It has benefits to it. As said, you get the medals for it. You can also hatch eggs by incubating them, and going the said distance the eggs need to go. And recently, you can have a partner like Ash and Pikachu. When you walk enough, you can get some candies from them. But mostly, it’s a good way to get some exercise in where if you need it, and it does work. As long as you don’t trespass into someone’s home/property.

As with everything, there are a the pros and cons with them. And Pokémon Go has a ton of them. To start with the positive, as I said, this is a good game to go out and walk around and get some exercise with. Need to burn off some calories while needing to get a bunch of Magikarp candies? Go out for, jog for 10-15 km, and boom. It benefits you both ways. The ways of catching Pokémon is a lot simpler here than in the actual games, and sometimes easier than on there. (No joke. At one point, I was basically Ash in the Safari Zone with how many Tauros I caught. I caught so many, and usually only took one try with a Poké Ball. I know, it’s not interesting to you reading this, but I digress.) The updates Pokémon Go produces have come with a lot of good stuff. It has Johto Pokémon now, they do a lot of fun events, including the different Pikachus to catch, and getting double XP for holidays. You can go on Catch streaks now to get a ton of XP. The items you get can be beneficiary, like the Lucky Eggs, the Egg Incubators, and Lure Models for those in Pokéstop areas. Even new stuff like the berries they add for the Gen 2 Pokémon have some extra benefits to help catch/get stronger Pokémon.  Transferring your Pokemon over for when you caught too many, and getting extra candy for said Pokemon has been one of the bigger pros to it too. And just like any mobile game, while it is free, it does have some stuff you probably going to have to buy. Which is okay. Need more Poké Balls, bag storage, or whatever? Just spend a little bit of money to get some Poké Coins, and you get what you need if you are short on it.

While these are some pros (there are some more, too), there are a lot more cons out there. Now, these are just based on my experience I had. Your experience can be different. I mention the pro of the Poké Coins. While it is good, it is a mobile game after all, and it’s sometimes essential to use at times. You don’t want to, but have to, especially if you live in the countryside. Speaking of which, living in rural lands? Not so great for playing this game, especially if you need a Pokéstop or two. Pokémon Go is a lot easier to play if you live in a big city filled with a bunch of stops you can get to within walking distance, where as in someplace in farming land, there may not be any close by whatsoever. The Pokemon you get for evolving can be a hassle too. I know, it’s harder to evolve them in the handheld version than it is on here, but some of them can be very excessive. I’m looking at you, Magikarp, and your 400 candies. Some, at least the new Johto ones, need some of the evolution items just to evolve them, and those can be a bit tricky to come by. Another thing is the weather. Maybe it’s just me, because I live in Michigan, and it can get cold here, but Pokémon Go is a lot better played in the spring/summer or just warmer climates. You can at least walk on the sidewalks without worrying of slipping on your ass. And some of the places that are put up for Pokéstops/Gyms. They’re … very weird. Coming from experience and finding Gyms at 4-way corners, alleyways, and on train tracks is a thought process I can’t comprehend. Also, the Legendaries are still hard to find, let alone be found on this game.

But these are minor gripes in the game compared to some big ones I have. For one, the bugs. Oh man, the bugs. One of the reasons people got turned off by this game quickly was the bugs in this game. Some can be funny with multiple Pokémon becoming one mutant Pokémon or your partner becomes a giant like in infamous S1 Pokémon episode. There’s even the occasion where your Trainer just runs off doing his/her own thing as you just sit there and watch them do it. While those are okay, most times it is a nuisance. Multiple times I have played this game and had problems just getting on it. The game itself has freezed on me multiple times while walking, and just doesn’t respond. I lost Gym Battles by having “Error” messages appeared. I sometimes don’t know when a egg will hatch, or if it has at all because, even though it shows you hatching most of the time, there’s are a few times it just doesn’t show at all. I couldn’t even see my partner/my own Trainer progress for 3 weeks earlier this year because the game would just freeze up whenever I touched it to find out. The Pokémon map the game uses can be really bad at times where you have no idea where the Pokémon is at all. (I think they worked this out better with their most recent map update than they did when they scrapped it all the first time around.) And the worst part? The way this game wastes battery life. This game will suck the life out of your battery very quickly. I have had times where my battery is at 80% playing this game, go out and walked for only 15-20 minutes, and the battery is down to 60% like that. (This is my experience on my relatively, strong tablet, at least. I don’t have a iPhone, or any smartphone, so I wouldn’t know if it’s better/worse.) The cons definitely outweigh the pros on here, so if you want to experience it, look out for them.

Pokémon Go is a game that has a lot of good to it. Catching Pokémon on here is pretty fun, you get to do a bunch of things like it was the Pokémon world, and you get to go around and get some exercise as you explore. However, the many bugs can be a hassle to deal with, while taking some of the fun out of it. I know I have cursed a few times out loud just dealing with these issues myself. So while it is still a good game, it’s definitely nowhere near perfect. I still prefer the handheld versions more so than this. If you still want to experience Pokémon through the use of mobile gaming, I say give it a try, but watch for the issues I pointed out. It’s a free game, so all you need to do is download it. If you don’t have any real need for it, then I suggest you stick with the originals.

Final Verdict: Try it. Pokémon Go is a fun social experience, but it oftentimes plagued by bugs and performance issues. Pokémon Go is a mobile game developed and published by Niantic, with partnership by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo.

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