There are not many games that stand the test of time quite like the Pokémon franchise, however, with a staggering total of 721 new critters created since Red and Blue were released 20 years ago, it's a wonder anyone has time to catch them all anymore!

That is until Pokémon GO. Now I can catch Pokémon on my morning commute to work, while I go shopping and (sneakily) in the office. It is not often that I enjoy activities that would have me walk 3 miles to level up (I'm looking at you, FitBit) but if I'm looking for a rare Pokémon, that's another story.

Gameplay

Pokémon GO relies on 3 things; a willingness to get out into the real world, GPS tracking, and your mobile camera to create this augmented reality world where you can catch Pokémon in real life. Once I created my avatar and chose my starter Pokémon (Charmander, obviously) I was raring to get out on my lunch break to start my journey to Pokémasterdom. Naturally, the first Pokémon I caught was a Rattata in my office stair well, but that’s London for you.

As I gleefully went outside to walk towards the Thames, an animated map pointed out landmarks (Pokéstops) to walk towards. Each Pokéstop gives Pokéballs which you use to catch the Pokémon or eggs which hatch at a later date, adding Pokémon to your collection. It's best to go to all highlighted locations and stock up on items rather than buying the same items with real life money. On my way towards the Tate Modern I caught a Pidgey and a Spearow, found over 10 Pokéstops, and reached level 2 all relatively quickly, while almost being hit by a car and cyclist on two separate occasions. 

Changing from rat and bird type Pokémon appearing, near the River Thames, new water-based Pokémon, such as Goldeen, begun to appear which is a really well thought out and extremely engaging feature. By the time I had walked for 15 minutes I was already level 3 and achieved a medal for 5 Pokémon caught. I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty awesome. I also found I walked much further than I had planned, just to catch even more water types, but all I could find was a Magikarp before turning back. Still, making me walk any extra amount is a feat in itself. 

The gameplay is simple, engaging, and will definitely entice gamers off the sofa and out the front door, however it is probably better to use this in a park or other areas well away from traffic and busy streets. While I think Pokémon GO is an excellent, fresh new take on the Pokémon franchise, the game does have some notable flaws. 

Issues

One very large issue I found was that constantly looking at ones phone, while trying to circumvent crowded areas and on-coming traffic, is not ideal. The camera function will only turn on when you come across a wild Pokémon to catch, but this could be implemented to be on constantly, showing the gamer what is in front of them. 

For the entire walk, clocking in at around 25 minutes, my mobile battery decreased from 45% to a pitiful 21%. That is almost a 1% per 1 minute of use which is a brutal battery drain. While this has been noted as a “known issue” it is one that can potentially put users off, especially if you have forgotten your charger.

The GPS can also be slightly dodgy, with the avatar sticking in parts of the map and suddenly jumping to correct itself after a second or two. This is, admittedly, a very minor gripe, but could become quite frustrating if it continued. It also needs a stable online connection to play, which could mean your mobile data may take a considerable hit depending on usage. I personally did not notice a huge increase, but if your mobile data package is low, it may hit you harder.

Verdict

Anyone who loved Pokémon, whether it was in the 90's or more recently, will definitely get a kick out of this app. It is a tad gimmicky and has some notable issues, but it is also incredibly fun and will get people out and about, trying their best to catch 'em all!  #Android #Smartphone #Videogames