Pokémon Go came out here in the States last week, but I’m sorry to say, it sounds like it won’t be reaching Europe anytime soon. We poke-crazed fans have overloaded the game’s servers so badly that they need to work on restabilizing it before letting any more players join. Again, I’m really sorry—because the game is RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME. Here’s what I learned after two days of obsessive playing.
You’ve got to get out there
The whole premise behind Pokémon Go is exploring. Your character is on a live and pretty darn accurate map, and when you walk, it walks. Seriously. There are things called Poké Stops at major landmarks and historic spots, where you can collect items like Poké Balls, potions, eggs, etc. for free. You can also buy all that stuff with real money, but THAT’S CHEATING. Pokémon tend to hang out at these spots, too.
When I was in downtown Boston, the Poké Stops were abundant. When I was in the middle of a small suburban town, they were definitely more spread out but still available. Besides Poké Stops, though, you can also stop at gyms. Gyms are “owned” by one of the three colored teams—red, blue, and yellow, you’ll choose which one you join once you reach level 5—and you can battle Pokémon to take control. If your team owns the gym already, you can ditch one of your Pokémon there for training. I haven’t figured out what the heck the benefit of this is yet, but I feel like if my Pokémon is at the gym, I don’t have to go to the gym. Logic.
Update: I have since learned that when you have Pokémon in a gym, you can collect a pretty significant sum of “money” each day, which you can use to buy items.
It pays to travel, too, because different Pokémon are in different areas. If you want some water Pokémon, head to the beach. Parks seem to be chock full of Pokémon in general, and you can find different types at night versus during the day. The lesson to be learned here is, NEVER TURN OFF THE APP. EVER.
More common Pokémon (Rattata, Pidgey, etc.) will show up frequently. It may seem like a drag to catch ’em all, but you really should. It takes a certain number of “candies” to evolve your Pokémon, and when you release your 3 zillion extra Rattata, you get candies in exchange that you can then use to evolve a remaining Rattata into a Raticate. Not to mention, it’s also a good chance to practice your Poké Ball throwing technique.
Be freaking careful
Since the only way to play the game is to stare unblinkingly at the screen while you walk around, waiting for a Pokémon to appear so you can catch it, it has the potential to get a bit dangerous. You might consider taking a friend along who can watch your back so you don’t walk into traffic or get your phone stolen right out of your hand. It’s also really tempting to play this game while driving, because driving is a whole lot faster than walking, but that’s crazy dangerous.
Not to mention, moving fast has its downsides. I passed a lot of Poké Stops, gyms, and Pokémon while on the train, but the train moved so fast that I missed 90% of them. If you’re not super close to a Poké Stop or gym, you can’t access them. It’s a little more generous with your proximity to the Pokémon. I also tried to pull my car up next to a gym my team owned (I chose the yellow team and our gyms seem to be few and far between), only to find some other guy pulled up next to it doing the same thing. Okay, I couldn’t see his screen, but I’m convinced that’s what he was doing. Once he finished, he pulled away and I took his spot. Swear to god, this game is taking over.
It’s insanely glitchy
After walking and playing for an hour today, catching mainly boring ass Pokémon, I finally found a Jigglypuff. A JIGGLYPUFF. When I went to throw my Poké Ball, the game froze. I thought I was devastated when One Direction went on hiatus, but that was nothing compared to my devastation at losing that damn Jigglypuff.
Besides that, there are times when you can’t get on period. It’ll log you off repeatedly, and every time you try to log back in, you get an error message that the servers are overloaded. Yesterday it had been working perfectly until almost noon on the dot, when the entire east coast went on lunch break and sent the servers into a total meltdown. See, this is what they have to fix before the rest of the world can join in, but I promise it’s worth the wait.