Pokemon GO Is Not Okay

Not Recommended

Posted by Frosthaven |

Niantic, Inc, birthed as an internal startup at Google, wants you to go places. Their developments in augmented reality and geo-location within the mobile space are something to admire - and perhaps the only thing worth admiration.

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A Look Back

classic pokemon

I played Pokemon back in the age of the Gameboy on a screen of colors ranging from green to slightly darker green. Shuffling through the first patch of grass in anticipation followed by an outward gasp as the screen rips you into battle with one of the many lovable animals Pokemon. What a time to be alive! Pokemon Red and Blue versions made their triumphant mark on the industry with their well thought out process of venturing forth, capturing, training, and battling to become the very best.

I recall taking my Gameboy to school and using the link cable to duke it out against everyone from close friends to members of the football team. If they played Pokemon, they were family.

The Spin-offs

snap As with any truly successful IP, the temptation for Pokemon to expand into everything around the world grew. From virtual pets in Hey You, Pikachu!, to photo targets in Pokemon Snap, it seemed like there was no genre they would turn down. This was further proven by their addition to Smash Bros., and the creation of Pokken Tournament. You should browse the Bulbapedia entry for spin-offs sometime - it's a rather large list.

Niantic & Pokemon GO

This isn't the first jump into mobile gaming by Niantic, with their game Ingress getting over 160k google likes.

ingress

Unlike Ingress, Pokemon GO is mostly a very thin shell around geo-location technology. It reminds me of those long road trips growing up with Road Trip Bingo: "I see a red car, BINGO I WIN!". While Road Trip Bingo had it's time, I don't think it's quite enough effort to be considered for a digital game - and that mirrors my feelings on GO quite nicely.

Catching Pokemon

catching pokemon Discovering Pokemon in the wild is partially luck, but heavily influenced by trainer level. You'll want to keep catching them as quickly as you can if you are looking to snag those higher tier Pokemon. This, from my understanding, was changed from the beta as people were filling out their PokeDex too quickly (which means less use for the cash shop, let's be honest).

The process of catching Pokemon is utterly straight forward. Use items to subdue them if they are strong, and proceed to swing Pokeballs at them until you catch them.

Fighting

fighting Fighting only takes place at Pokemon Gyms once you hit level 5. Don't expect anything beyond cookie clicker levels of play here, as you will either tap, hold, or swipe frantically to take down whatever Pokemon is in charge of the gym you are at. Provided you managed to tap the screen at the right times, you get to take over the gym and leave your own Pokemon for others to challenge.

The Store

paytowin This is the big gripe for me. Mobile gaming has always been looked down on by most gamers because of the cesspool of terrible offerings compacted with the minefield of micro-transactions. Pokemon GO doesn't stray away from this, as their in-app purchases will give you an edge on catching pokemon, powering them up, and progressing in the "game".

In Closing

Pokemon GO feels like a thin layer of sugar thrown on top of Niantic's existing geo-location technology. Approaching this game as a technical demonstration of what geo-location can do would yield some pretty impressive responses. Unfortunately, it's being marketed as a game - a game that continues to push the age old tropes of mobile gaming as a platform being nothing more than a cash grab.

With the added wrapper of Pokemon leading to a larger day one consumer base, I predict this will set back legitimate attempts at leveraging the platform a pretty far margin.

I'm not saying you aren't allowed to enjoy it of course. Don't let this writer's opinion keep you from doing what you like.