iOS | 2016
If ever there was a game that reminded me how little time I have left for games, it’s Pokémon GO, the new phenomenon from Niantic forcing everyone to rediscover Pokémon (or at least Bing it).
I snagged Rob on the first night and bummed around UCF for a short bit, tapping and swiping awkwardly and feeling accomplished with each new Pidgey and Ratatta. Just as often, the game lagged, dropped, crashed, didn’t respond, and above all didn’t explain anything. “But every online game has these issues at launch,” thought everyone reading. And yeah, that’s pretty much all of them these days, I guess.
Somewhat surprisingly, we ran across a bunch of people doing the same. Wow. Feels like middle school all over again. Except back then, I had a game that turned on and worked every time, had innovative mechanics, and excelled in spite of (and possibly due to) the constraints of the hardware.
A week and eleven levels later, I’m wading through crowds gathered at a PokéStop to go buy socks at Target. I’ve watched from my office as employees stroll by, phones out, stopping momentarily to swipe up a few times. While I’m nose-down in Visual Studio, my team is out hunting across the street. As I’m getting ahead on work Sunday, I read about my friends strolling through downtown, Disney, and UCF, wading through seas of other bodies exploiting the virtual map. Tonight my waiter asked about it, the booth one over full of seniors was playing it, and CNN was dissecting it. It’s viral in every sense.
Battling is horrible. Here’s hoping they revert this nonsense to a rock-paper-scissors game that’s derivative of the series’ type match-ups.
The best thing going for the game is its adherence to the Pokémon theme. The models are spot-on and cute as hell, and the animations for each creature draw that smile across the face with ease. If only it could maintain that throughout.
GO is genuinely good at making “driving so you can walk around aimlessly” seem like a thing I want to do, but it’s also really good at making me feel completely unable to keep up. It is genuinely great? Nah. Maybe eventually. It’ll probably be a lot better in a month or so. Until then, you can find me at my desk, twirling the PokéStop outside my office 90 times a day, wondering if I’ll ever catch up.
Recommendation: play it with a small group of friends and/or a significant other exclusively. Don’t drive and GO.