Yeah, I’ve said it. Pokémon GO isn’t a true Pokémon game that we all know and love.
I might not have been able to put this mobile game down since it was released last Summer, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any good. Personally, I think there are three key areas that need a good shouting about.
To me, a Pokémon game is all about the journey from your home town to the Elite Four and beyond! Pokémon GO doesn’t have this, it doesn’t have anything like it. You don’t start your epic journey across a continent in a town that only has three houses and a laboratory. Yes, I suppose you do venture off to faraway towns and cities, but there’s not all that much purpose. I’m fully aware that this mobile game can never match what it’s handheld console counterparts offer, but because of this, I feel that it’s missing the very heart of a Pokémon game. You don’t have a rival in the physical sense, I suppose I compare my progress and Pokémon with friends and compete to catch rarer Pokémon, but it’s not the same as bumping into Blue, Gary or the red-headed thief from the original games. I mentioned the Elite Four too, there’s no Indigo Plateau or Victory Road, no Safari Zone or Game Corner and although Pokémon GO is obviously set in the real world, these fictional places are as iconic as the Pokémon themselves. There’s always a storyline to the proper games as well, even though they don’t necessarily need one. You’ve got Team Rocket, Team Magma/Aqua, Team Plasma etc. Now I know Pokémon GO started life as an augmented reality game and as such it’s difficult to incorporate storylines and the like, but it’s just something that I feel the mobile game lacks, there are plenty of Gyms and Pokéstops so why not throw in the occasional Hideout or something as an alternate place to train.
Speaking of training; of course, Pokémon games are basic RPG’s that require a considerable amount of grinding. Take the Pewter City gym for example, if you’re playing Pokémon: Yellow, Brock is incredible tough. Your Pikachu is of little use as it’s weak against rock-type Pokémon, being an electric-type and all that. The easiest solution was to catch a Caterpie in Viridian Forest and raise it until it finally evolved into a Butterfree. If you kept training past this point, at level 14 Butterfree learnt Confusion, which was a pretty powerful move at such a low level. An alternate strategy, albeit a little less well-known, was to catch a Mankey just west of Viridian City and train that up a little. As Mankey is a fighting-type, it’s strong against rock-types and makes short work of Brock’s Geodude and Onix, especially with Double-Kick. Anyway, I’m not here to talk about strategies for a classic game, I’m here to bitch about Pokémon GO. However, this is exactly my point, you don’t have any sense of purpose with Pokémon GO, you’re not catching Pokémon as a way of getting past a difficult part of a game or a particular type to defeat a tough gym leader, you’re catching them just for the sake of catching them. In Pokémon GO, there is a levelling system in place, but it’s awkward and you can only train up by catching more of the same Pokémon for their candies, and then powering up with said candy. Which is nothing like the original games (or anime) I might add.
Evolutions are a gripe of mine as well, in order evolve a Pokémon in the games you need to level them up to a certain level, it’s a grind that can sometimes be hard work, but it’s always manageable. In Pokémon GO however, you need a certain number of candies which you earn from catching more of that certain Pokémon, on average each one you catch will earn you 3 pieces of candy, you can then transfer that Pokémon in for 1 additional candy, totalling 4. It’s a whole different level of grinding, and there’s no definitive way to gather the required amount. If you’ve not found a nest for a particular Pokémon, then there’s no surefire way of knowing where to catch them. Magikarp for example, needs 400 individually wrapped pieces of candy in order to evolve into a Gyarados. That’s at least 100 Magikarp’s. Could you imagine the size of the net needed? I’d much rather catch myself a Gyarados at the Lake Of Rage in just a pair of swim-shorts than put myself through that ordeal… again. Yeah, I’ve already got myself a Gyarados and I’m not proud. My point is though, you should evolve you’re Pokémon through brutal/cruel batting and the occasional Rare Candy, not 400 of them that you earn from catching the same Pokémon over and over!
Carrying on from above, battles are a major part in the Pokémon series, not just the games, but the anime programme too. To me a Pokémon game should focus on battles, it’s the key feature of the game. It’s about battling your Pokémon against other trainers, and the strategy that it requires. Like I mentioned above, you’ve got different ‘types’ of Pokémon, you need to catch, train and level up in certain ways to win battles in different scenarios.
Whilst in a battle, you’ve got different move sets too, and there are some moves that don’t do damage, but harm your opponent’s stats in different ways such as lowering their speed or defence, maybe you poison them or put them to sleep. There’s a certain sense of achievement when winning a battle, not like in the Pokémon GO app where you just hammer the screen with your finger until you foe falls over. It’s a poor system and isn’t fun in the slightest.
So that’s that, there’s my brief rant for the day. I’ve not even spoken about the lack of trading, or battling your friends in PvP. Apparently they’re both due in the future, then again, so is a Half-Life sequel, but I’m not holding my breath. Sadly, Pokémon is about the relationship between the Pokémon and their trainer (i.e. you!) and you just don’t get that with the mobile application. Every game I’ve played has provided me with a huge plethora of happy memories, Pokémon GO offers nothing and fails to capture the very essence of what it’s based on.
There’s so much potential with this game, and although it’s rather restricted in what I can do, I still feel that it’s lacking in pretty much every department.
I’ll continue to play it though. Why’s that? Well, I’m not all that sure, maybe it’s because I enjoy the nostalgia of seeing my old favourite Pokémon. Oh, who am I kidding? this stuff is heroine. I can’t not play it, but I can’t quite put my finger on why that is. It’s got a firm grip of my balls, and with the release of Gen. 2 Pokémon, I can’t see it loosening any time soon.
Are you still playing Pokémon GO? Or did the phase quickly run it’s course? Maybe the recent release of Generation 2 Pokémon has drawn you back in, either way, let me know!