Full disclosure: my husband proposed to me with an engagement ring inside a Pokéball.
As long-time Pokémon fan, I’ve had my fair share of Poké-experiences. I collected the cards, watched some of the anime, played the GameBoy games, and still play Pokémon Snap on my Wii because it’s my favorite. I wore my Pikachu slippers (another brilliant Sam gift) for a solid two years until they were shreds of dirty yellow polyester and became dog toys. If anyone was primed to enjoy Pokémon Go, that person is me.
Even though I fully expected to love Pokémon Go from the stary, I’m amazed that I actually do love it. It totally exceeds my expectations, and I’m honestly enthralled by this game. Sure, it’s not perfect, but I’m still a huge fan. Here are my personal pros and cons:
You actually have to move around
A few years ago, my friend Ben talked about building a mobile RPG which required people to visit places in the “real world” in order to receive rewards in the game. It seemed like a fantasy world to me, but I liked the idea of having to physically move around my environment in order to advance in the game. It turns out that the greatest reward for someone like me is catching Pokémon.
Sure, I caught two Pokémon in my apartment. But I caught nearly two dozen outside my apartment, walking around. Aside from finding new Pokémon, visiting places in the real world is also the only way to gather supplies, hatch eggs, and battle in gyms. The game has also drawn my attention to lesser-known landmarks and destinations in my neighborhood, which is a fun “real world” perk. I’m so glad that physical movement is prioritized in Pokémon Go, because it’s so easy to gorge on other Pokémon games by sitting on my ass for days at a time.
Gyms encourage contact with real players
In the GameBoy games, I wasn’t super into whole gym storyline. Gyms were annoying roadblocks which I endured so I can do other (much cooler) stuff.
But in Pokémon Go, the gyms are cool because they offer me the opportunity to play against other real players for team territory. There is a gym just a few houses down from my apartment, and I like monitoring the latest team leader. It’s also fun knowing other Pokémon Go players in my physical proximity, too, instead of just playing against a computer.
Pokémon species variety is solid from the get-go
I could only catch so many Pidgeys and Rattatas in versions Blue, Red, and Yellow before I wanted to barf. It was equally exhausting being bombarded by Zubats and Geodudes in caves. I fully expected this to be the case with Pokémon Go, too. (I should note that I’m ecstatic they stuck with the same three “first choice” Pokémon).
Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across a Jigglybuff near my bike stop and a Jynx just a few blocks later. I also found a Hypno and Tauros before reaching level 6. This variation among types keeps me engaged: every time I recognize the shadowy outline of a new Pokémon nearby, I get too psyched to put my phone away and keep walking to find it.
Leveling up is achievable
It doesn’t take hours or days of gameplay to finally add some cool features, new Pokémon, or XP. Things happen frequently enough to keep me interested, and I don’t have to do a lot of aimless walking around for something to happen.
Gyms and Pokéstops are close together, too. If I’m trying to figure out if it’s worth it to keep going in one direction or turn off the game, a nearby Pokéstop will likely convince me to go get some gear. It’s an effective way to wrap me into playing longer, and I don’t mind because I can get something out of it.
Pokémon augmented reality (AR) is literally my dream
I cannot describe the overwhelming joy I experienced when I saw my first Pokémon dancing around the street in front of me. For someone like me—a person fully capable of suspending my disbelief so I can see Pokémon in the real world—this is by far the greatest thing I have ever experienced in a game. I will probably pee my pants when I find Pikachu.
Missing out on reality
Now that I have Pokémon Go, I worry that I won’t be able to fully experience true reality anymore. Will I bother walking anywhere for the sake of exercise or the pleasure of taking in the sights around me? Are vacations and hiking trips going to turn into opportunities to catch types I can’t find at home?
My future is dark: I will vehemently chase nearby Pokémon or hatch eggs or gather supplies and forget what life is like outside the game. Perhaps more importantly, I fear that I’ll never put my phone down. I value time away from screens and I try not using my phone unless I absolutely must, but this game changes everything. I hope I’ll play Pokémon Go in moderation, but since downloading the game a few days ago, this seems unlikely.
Catching Pokémon requires literally zero strategy
I remember the days of memorizing different types and setting my lineup so I could effectively navigate through caves, forests, and oceans. Selecting which Pokémon to train and which to just collect for my pokédex was a riddle and challenge. Every time I started a new game, it was an entirely new experience based on which Pokémon I chose to train, evolve, and invest my effort into advancing.
Now, if I want to catch a Pokémon, I just flick my screen and it’s done. Poof. No battles, no techniques, no sense of accomplishment when overtaking a challenging foe I shouldn’t be able to catch. It’s so anticlimactic that it pains my childhood.
No sense of community
Why can’t I find my friends or battle players nearby? I know they’re out there because they awkwardly mill around at the gym a few houses down. And yet, I have no way to actually interact with them.
I also want to find my friends, so I can see what Pokémon they have and where they found them. Plus, I want to battle their asses and prove my Master Trainer abilities.
I’m super annoyed that I have to use Potions and Revives in order to get my Pokémon back in fighting condition after battle. Why can’t I go visit those doting nurses and let them get my babies back up to full health? I’m sure it has to do with this next thing I dislike about Pokémon Go…
Spending real money on fake things
I know, I know. They have to turn a profit. But the more I play, the clearer I can see that purchasing items with cold-hard, “real world” cash is the only way to really advance in the game. There is honestly no other explanation for how there is already a Blastoise in charge of my neighborhood gym after only 48 hours of the game going live.
I’m never going to spend real money to play this game (honestly, I won’t), so I hope the joy of playing doesn’t drop off too quickly. I’m fine never taking over a gym, but I just hope there are enough enticing things in the free play version of Pokémon Go to keep me interested for a decent amount of time.
Glitches and battery life
These two go without saying, and it’s something everyone has noticed since playing the game. I know the glitches will get better as the game is played more, but the battery thing is tough. I’m trying to play in a way that conserves the most battery power, but because of the glitches, this isn’t always possible. Hopefully these issues clear up soon!
Have you started playing Pokémon Go yet? Are you a fan, or not? Share in the comments!