Whether you’re a gamer or not, you’ve probably heard of Pokemon GO. This mobile application is sweeping the nation, causing hordes of people to exploring the great outdoors while intensely staring at their devices. Of course, for those who aren’t necessarily huge Pokemon fans, Pokemon GO seems really strange.
Images of cartoon animals in stores, car parks, and even in hospitals are taking over Facebook timelines everywhere and people won’t stop talking about the latest Rattata that they discovered. It can be a lot to take in for the uninitiated. Well, fear not, let us boil it right down for you.
So What Is It?
Pokemon GO is an app for smartphones that is completely free to download and install. The game is based on the popular Pokemon TV and video game franchise, which revolve around the idea of collecting “Pocket Monsters” called Pokemon, training them to become stronger, then using them to win battles at Gyms, a sort of proving grounds led by a Gym leader. However, where the strange part comes in is that the game actually uses the real-world as its foundation. Players explore an accurate map of their local surroundings, complete with roads, little houses, bodies of water, etc.
As a player starts walking, their character on the screen will start walking in the exact same direction. This is possible thanks to the phone’s GPS function, which is working out your location and movements and replicating them in the game. However, Pokemon GO isn’t just about walking around on a virtual map; you’re on an adventure to catch over 100 different Pokemon that can be found in all sorts of places. Different Pokemon may be found nearer to specific areas. For example, a water-type Pokemon like Squirtle, may be found near a lake. In order to catch the Pokemon, you simply have to walk around and wait for one to appear on the screen. When you do see one, that’s when you’ll want to tap on it to begin your encounter.
Why Do I Keep Seeing Photos of Cartoon Animals in Malls?
This is where Pokemon GO uses a technology called Augmented Reality to essentially put the creature into the real world. Augmented Reality is technology that “superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world.” Once an encounter with a Pokemon is started, Pokemon GO will use your smartphone’s camera to show an image of the world, then place a Pokemon on top of it to create a composite view. That may explain why you keep seeing photos of that cartoon pigeon in offices, malls, and movie theaters all over the internet.
The use of Augmented Reality in Pokemon GO has been one of the game’s biggest pulls, as social media feeds can probably more than vouch for.
So What Do You Do?
You’re going to be tasked with wandering around and searching for Pokemon in your surrounding area. Some Pokemon are more common to find than others, and so the real excitement begins when you spot a rare one. In order to catch any Pokemon, you’ll require Poke Balls. A little red and white ball will sit at the bottom of your screen and you simply hold down on the Poke Ball and swipe up towards the Pokemon in order to throw the ball. With a good throw and a little bit of luck, you’ll capture the creature. Players can then train these creatures using in-game currency, and some can even evolve into more powerful Pokemon (if you can afford it).
So where do you get Poke Balls from? These spherical capture machines, along with other items, can be picked up by going to a PokeStop. On your map, you’ll occasionally see a little blue circle on top of a pillar of sorts. This is a PokeStop and is situated at a real-life landmark. Your nearest PokeStop may be the church down the road, or a nearby park. PokeStops are dotted all around the world, and visiting them will award you items to fuel your collecting adventure.
Don’t You Battle Pokemon?
Pokemon GO isn’t just about capturing and collecting the creatures. It’s also about battling them and pitting them against those of other players. This can be done at Gyms. These are very much like PokeStops, taking real-life locations and turning them into hotspots for Pokemon GO players. This is where the competitive aspect of the game comes in. When level 5 is reached, players will have to align themselves with team: Instinct, Mystic, or Valor. These are represented by the colors yellow, blue, and red respectively. These teams then battle for control of the Gyms, with players placing their Pokemon at each Gym to defend it from challenging rival trainers. Imagine a King of the Hill scenario, but you’re placing virtual monsters there to do your dirty work.
So how do you know your Pokemon are strong enough? Each Pokemon has CP and HP. CP stands for Combat Points, and HP stands for Hit Points. CP determines how strong the attacks of your Pokemon will be, while HP is essentially your Pokemon’s health. You’ll want to make sure that both of these are as high as possible in order to have a good chance at helping your team conquer your nearby Gyms.
A Social Experience
Finally, one of the most important things you need to know about Pokemon GO is that while it may initially seem like a single-player experience, the game has already proven to be a successful tool for social gatherings and sparking conversations around the watercooler. You’ll often find yourself bumping into other players and chatting with them when you visit the Gym or the PokeStop nearby you; some people may even enhance a PokeStop with a purchasable Module that will attract Pokemon to the surrounding area for every player in the area.
Though battling and trading with friends aren’t available just yet, these are both features that the developer, Niantic, is planning to add in some time in the future. But for now, everyone is enjoying exploring the great outdoors with friends both new and old.
Pokemon GO is out now in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and is coming to other territories later this month. You can download it on your iOS or Android device from the official app stores. If you decide to go ahead and jump in, check back with us for all the tips, tricks, and guides you may need.