So today is the day, Thursday 14th July, that Pokemon GO has been officially unleashed on the British public. Of course many are already well underway with their own Poke-adventures thanks to “manipulating technology”, enabling many to download the game despite it not being on UK app stores.
I decided to wait for the official release before plundering into this new “real world” of Pokemon and I will be sharing my thoughts and offering you an insight into the game and my experience based on a sort of “regularly” updated diary-esque article. After a while I will no doubt post some form of conclusive summary on the game and my adventure. So sit tight and enjoy.
Day 1 – A New, Lazy Adventure
After loading Pokemon GO for the first time naturally I am requested to “sign in”. After completing all the necessary paper work, I’m tasked by Professor Willow (who looks more like a surfer with a lab coat than an actual professor) briefly rambles before I’m tasked with capturing my first Pokemon. Situated near my house is a Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur, what luck i think to myself, though naturally this acts as a brief tutorial if you will. Not realising you can just tap on a nearby Pokemon to see and catch them I shiftly make an excuse to take out the recycling to grab a Charmander at the back of my house.
Doing my best to not arouse suspicion and not look completely weird I am right on the spot where Charmander is supposed to be… nothing happens. So naturally I tap said fire creature and boom there he is lapping it up right in front of me (well on my screen) on top of my recycling bin. It was a humorous image but this was no time for laughter I had a
Pokemon to catch after a few failed pokeball throws one lands on its head and opens up, en-capturing the little, flaming fellow in it. “Woopla!” I say to myself, however at this point the game decides to throw a wobbler and get stuck on the capture screen.
See I live in a small town that has poor mobile coverage and that may hampen my ability to play in my local area. I return back into the safety of my house, knowing no one can see what geekish deeds I am undertaking, loading the game back up again and it appears my attempt at catching Charmander did not register thanks to the game crashing. So here I go again, take two, from the comfort of my living room I tap onto the nearby Charmander and this time he is right in front of me on my living room floor, you are not getting away this time I’ve got Wi-fi here! A solid pokeball throw later and no game crashing and Charmander is mine. Prof. Willow returns to tell me what an excellent trainer I am, naturally, and wishes me well on my adventure and now it appears I’m left to my own devices.
I immediately spot a Rattata supposedly down the street, knowing it’s out of my Wi-fi coverage I tap on the little rat and boom he is my living room! Man this game is easy I don’t need to leave the sofa! Probably not the way this game should be played but hey I’m errr… just practising ok, I want to look good out there. Due to my poor mobile coverage, unease at wandering around with my phone out and own laziness I deploy some incense which attracts a Pidgey, another Rattata and a Pidgeotto. Man why did Ash take so long to capture Pokemon in the tv series, it is a piece of cake!
With the reliability of Wi-fi I decide to “check out” the surrounding area, Pokemon GO has decided that the local indian restaurant and church are dedicated Pokestops while the gym appears to be a local pub. Annoyingly I come to the realisation, that due to the poor mobile coverage in my town, I will unlikely be ever able to interact with these in the near future.
Later in the evening, again in the comforts of my house, an Eevee appears nearby in my excitement I tap on the little furry critter and manage to catch it. Typically the game decides to throw another wobbler and crash. The rest of my evening is spent sulking…
Day 2 – The Adventure “Starts”
Day 2 starts off in lazy fashion once again but this time I’m catching Pokemon from my bed! To start the day the app tells me a Drowzee and Articuno are nearby! An Articuno! alas I realise my technological handicap will probably scupper my chances of catching either but the Drowzee gratefully makes an appearance allowing me to capture it… the Articuno is nowhere to be seen… damn you mobile network provider! I notice the local gym has changed hands a couple of times… obviously someone is able to receive some form of mobile data in this god damn town. You would think I lived in back and beyond but alas no reader, there is a Co-op and a Nisa (convenience stores), 3 pubs and fish & chip shop, it’s almost a metropolis!
Luckily I managed to escape my technologically primitive surroundings all in the name of work. Naturally I did not play whilst driving, although during a prolonged traffic light stop, I did have time to catch another Drowzee. The town I work in seemed to have an abundance of gyms and pokestops unfortunately I did not have time to interact with any as, well, work was calling. I quickly whipped out my phone before starting to see if I could capture anything but alas no joy, the building I work in seemed to be an empty vacuum for Pokemon. I did manage to capture a Poliwag during my break though, with said Pokemon humorously jumping up and down on the customer service desk, although for some reason poke balls did not seem to register so I had to turn augmented reality off to capture it.
After work I decided to briefly stop in a town on the way hoping to catch the odd Pokemon and maybe interact with a pokestop however no such luck my choice of location was poor (I was driving). Onto another day.
Day 3 – Where’s my invite? (to the poke party)
Day 3 was a similar story to Day 2, with work once again dictating my Poke-catching opportunities and server issues also hindering my attempts. At this point it felt like everyone else was having a great, big party while I was sort of peering over the garden fence, listening to the music but not really feeling part of it. Needless to say I did enjoy seeing folk walking around, looking at their phones, searching for these elusive critters, it brought a smile to my face and although I am not fully involved in Pokemon GO as of yet, I feel it is only a matter of time.
Day 4 – Don’t Poke-stop me now
While day 4 was pretty non-eventful I finally managed to interact with a pokestop… Almost by pure luck whilst filling up my car with fuel. Being the noob that I am, I didn’t actually know what pokestops did (I like the elements of surprise and the joy of discovery) so receiving some poke balls was a welcome surprise. This unfortunately was the highlight of the day (in terms of Pokemon GO) as part of my day was spent in a rural, wind swept part of Shropshire, where you guessed, el zilcho mobile coverage, the area would of been perfect for flying Pokemon too!
Day 5 – Park Life
The sun was out in force (a rare sight in the UK) and I sensed an opportunity to do a smash and grab Pokehunt on my lunch break. Stafford, the town I work in, is surprisingly abundant with pokestops and I had configured a route to and from the park
on my lunch that I ensured I hit as many pokestops as possible. The walk to the park was a constant pokestop, Pokemon catching whirlwind where every few seconds I seemed to be interacting with Pokemon GO, this was more like it.
Day 5 was the day when Pokemon GO really started to engross me, catching several new Pokemon, such as one of my personal favourite’s Sandshrew! as well as obtaining my first egg! Day 5 was a good day, although it still came with some frustration, as I often found when having augmented reality on, that pokeball detection and collision with Pokemon was hit and miss (… no I am not blaming my pokeball throwing technique). Oh well I wasn’t complaining as I managed to catch a Hypno in the store I work in, who was the strongest Pokemon I caught to date. Oh and funny thing, that Articuno that I thought appeared near me on day 2… yeah it was probably a Pidgeotto… the shame.
Day 6 – The Holy Day
With the sunny, warm climate showing no signs off going, I again decide to go out on my lunch break but this time to the church… alas this was to pray to the Pokemon Gods for a bountiful and rewarding hunt.
The local church, positioned in the centre of town has become somewhat of a Pokehunters haven, with four pokestops in a small proximity to one and another, each receiving an seemingly never ending supply of lure modules. Just sitting here you could happily watch others on their own adventures and I sort of did… as I gorged on food and caught many Pokemon myself. In this period of hunting I managed to catch my first Ghastly
My Pokedex had vastly expanded in the last two days. This was arguably one my the major pulls of Pokemon for me, trying to collect them all. I was addicted to the first Pokemon games and I played them to death having my elite squad of 6 Pokemon all at level 100 and registering all 150 Pokemon, I loved everything about the experience.
Pokemon GO isn’t only attracting the interest of Pokemon fans and those looking to rekindle nostalgic memories, like myself. No, it seems everyone and their dog at least knows about Pokemon GO, with a group of people sitting in a beer garden overlooking the church “graveyard” (it’s more a large grassy area, with a few graves lined around the boundary) seemingly mockingly shouting “There’s a Pikachu over here” … yeah cheers, now shut up and go back to your dirty pint of Carling. Still everyone I have seen playing seems to be enjoying themselves and exploring the environments around them, which can only be a good thing, well as long as they don’t scale the wall of the local prison chasing after a hard to get Oynx. Who knows if folk are still going to be engaged with Pokemon GO in a months time but at this moment who cares, let’s just enjoy it.
Days 7 – 9 Nothing Egg-xtraordinary
After an exciting few days of Pokemon catching frustration once again crept due to mobile coverage and app crashing. Me and my girlfriend went to a popular Pokemon spot in a nearby town, Burton-on-Trent, however as our luck would have it the servers were decided to have a bit of a break and we were both unable to benefit from this hot spot.
The social possibilities are one aspect I have not really experienced yet with Pokemon GO. This partly due to my limited time with the app but due to the lack of mobile coverage in my town, for me and my girlfriend to go on a hunt means we have to travel to somewhere first, rather than just opening our front door and rambling down our local streets.
I have not been involved in any Gym battles either, mainly because every gym I look at has far superior Pokemon to mine (sorry Hypno) even my local gym has began to be defended by some decent Pokemon. It makes me question whether gyms have been implemented in the best manner and they seem to be excluding more casual players or folk who don’t have as much time to play. Being (currently) the only way to get Pokemon coins it’s slightly annoying there isn’t a way everyone who plays Pokemon GO can be more involved with the gyms. Maybe this might be rectified or changed with updates but for now gyms are a mere dream for me.
On the upside I had managed to hatch two eggs with one being a Nidoran (male) and the other being a… Rattata… are you kidding me? I’m swimming in Pidgeys and Rattatas as it is!
Day 10 – New Pokeballs Please!
So something happened today that I did not think would happen… I ran out of pokeballs! Just as I encountered a Beedrill to… A Pokemon I have yet to catch…mind you I have caught that many bloomin’ Weedles I could probably get one through evolution. Anyway I refuse to use any of my own money to purchase more Pokeballs, so I was left to traipse around a local town, Uttoxeter, to swipe away at the few pokestops dotted around the town. That’s what you get for trying to catch every Pokemon you see.
Me and Mrs.GamingBear decided to have a Pokehunt adventure around Uttoxeter, which concluded with mixed results. I caught many Pokemon but not many unique ones, with Haunter being the most notable catch of the day. Still me and the Mrs. had an enjoyable walk around the town, although we experienced a period of inactivity due to dreaded poor mobile coverage. I also realised that the tracking system in Pokemon GO seemed to be playing up of late, as every Pokemon seemed to be “three footsteps” away. I later came to learn this issue was a well known glitch.
Days 11 & 12 – Poliwhirl and Ponyta
Day 11 as a relatively non eventful poke-day, with only a brief ramble around town after work, mainly to acquire more pokeballs after the previous days exploits. Still I learnt of a possible poke venture to the local castle later in the week might be on the cards with a few friends from work.
Day 12 saw me interact with a gym for the first time. I choose to go to one of my own teams gyms, Team Instinct (trust your instincts folks!) and see what was occurring. I heard you could “train” at gyms, whatever that entailed. Pokemon GO really doesn’t explain somethings very well and while I enjoy discovering somethings for myself some explanation would not have gone a miss regarding gyms and how they work. My 400+ CP Hypno went into battle against a 1500 CP Flareon and the battle was over in
a flash. I barely had time to register what I was doing, knowing that tapping the screen and holding & releasing it performed attacks, something the game does not tell you. Oh well at least I get to use some of the potions I have been mass collecting.
Soon after this brief experience I stumbled upon a Poliwhirl in the park. Unfortunately due to my terrible pokeball throwing and a reluctant Poliwhirl who valued its freedom, I could not catch the little blighter and I subsequently ran out of pokeballs… again. Now I blame this partly down to the pokeballs deciding to curve every frickin’ time even though I’m pretty sure my aim was straight. Alas I walked back to work in a sulk, the game seemed to mock me by making a Poliwag appear… damn you Niantic! However there was to be a happy ending as just as I was about clock back in to work one of my eggs hatched and a shiny, blazing Ponyta appeared from it. Guess it wasn’t a bad after all. Oh I have now “evolved” myself to level 10 with over 30 Pokemon registered in my Pokedex. I’m on my way to becoming a Pokemon master… slowly.
Days 13 – 14
Day 13 was a relatively low-key Pokemon hunting affair. I did briefly pop into town after work and had a quick run around hitting some Pokestops for some much needed pokeballs, which I would all but waste on a Meowth (I didn’t even really need it…) Still I did manage to track down a Fearow in the local shopping centre, which is no mean feat given the tracking system is a bit broken at the moment. It was day 14 I was really looking forward to.
Me and a couple of other guys from work, Phil & Sam, were intending on have an adventure to the local castle, well it’s more ruins than anything but the basic structure is still there. The weather however looked like it may spoil proceedings as when I got to town it was chucking it down. Before I met the other two I decided to go on a quick run around town grabbing some pokeballs, during this stint, whilst balancing a phone and an umbrella, I don’t usually use umbrellas so this in itself was a challenge, I somehow managed to catch a few Pokemon included a much needed Koffing and as a bonus, a snake I mean Ekans hatched from one of my eggs.
After meeting up with the others we set out on our journey to the castle, a good half hour walk. Why the castle? Rumour had it that Rhyhorns spawned there. The Pokemon gods showed mercy to us as the rain soon subsided and on our way to the castle we interacted with any Pokestops we encountered and captured a few critters along the way but nothing
really worth mentioning, although Sam did manage to hatch a Pikachu.
The castle itself has a few Pokestops dotted around its vicinity and a gym, not that I would ever be able to take it with my meagre strength Pokemon. Initially there were quite a few Pokemon around although nothing too unique or exciting. Even the introduction of a lure module did not really entice anything extra-ordinary. Still it was good to be out and about having a laugh with folk whilst searching for Pokemon and it adds another element to the experience, one I’m desperate to do again.
After a while someone else turned up at the castle, not invited but just out of pure coincidence. This guy knew the other two guys and was also quite
knowledgeable about Pokemon GO in the local area. He decided to try take the gym over and I saw an opportunity to quickly obtain some Pokecoins and stardust. As soon as he defeated Team Valour I quickly placed my level 440 Hypno into the unoccupied gym and hurriedly went into the shop on the app to collect my defender bonus. Naturally Team Instincts and my ownership of the gym was short-lived as his much stronger Pokemon wiped my Hypno out in no time at all. Oh well least I can say I owned a gym.
After this all the Pokemon seemed to disappear with not even a common Rattata to be seen. Mild frustration began to set in, where the frick where the Rhyhorn? Suddenly it appeared in the tracking system, Sam set off one way, me another and Phil went back
up to the top of the castle. It was Sam who located it first and I quickly ran to the spot where he found it and bam! There it was, a level 307 Rhyorn all mine for the taking… if it could just get into the damn Pokeball. After a few hopeful throws I finally got the big, old monster and it made the adventure feel even more worthwhile. At this point I think I might be getting addicted.
I actually found myself using augmented reality a bit as well, with more interesting surroundings than usual and the ability to stop and take time to capture Pokemon rather than worry about others around you, I felt the augmented reality really added a good degree of immersion. I still favour not to use it in most circumstances as I find it harder to aim, but in more sedate surroundings it seemed more natural to use.
We eventually headed down the hill form the castle and back into town. News of another Rhyhorn broke but we could not find it, alas on the walk back I did managed to stumble upon my own yellow, electric mouse, although I missed out on the chance of a Dratini just tapping on it as it magically vanished! And that concluded our journey. After 3 hours of hunting I had hoped for a few more Pokemon but I had managed to collect some unique ones along the way so I couldn’t complain and I had great fun socialising whilst doing so, the excitement of tracking down the Rhyhorn will be one of the standout memories of Pokemon GO for me. (To be continued…)
Hope you are enjoying reading my Pokemon GO adventure, let me know your experiences in the comments section below. Thanks for reading, have fun and play games.