Friday, July 22, 2016
Pokemon No Go
It is rare that general media report about a new game coming out. But Pokemon Go made a big splash, bringing Nintendo's Pokemon brand to mobile phones and in a game with newsworthy features like augmented reality, which can provide funny screenshots that even non-gamers can laugh about. Add some stories about people having accidents due to walking while watching their screen, getting into trouble trespassing to catch a rare Pokemon, or moving from virtual gym battles to real world fisticuffs, and you got enough to fill a newspaper during the dull summer period. The game getting to nearly 10 million players in a few days helps too. But is it actually a good game?
Personally I don't think it is. First of all the game has some serious technical problems. If you consider it as some sort of MMO you'll probably not be surprised that there are server problems at launch. But even if the game runs you'll quickly find out that Pokemon Go is pushing the envelope of what a smart phone is capable of. The battery drain is enourmous, and it is also consuming quite a lot of data. I am currently on holiday, and while a game that requires you to walk around and visit real world landmarks sounds like a perfect fit for a holiday, it isn't if you consider expensive data roaming charges.
But what about the game? Well, there isn't actually much game here. You walk around and find Pokemon, which you catch by flicking a virtual ball at them. You get those balls and eggs by walking to real world landmarks marked on your map. You can also get Pokemon from those eggs, which you incubate by walking around. And then you can exchange your lowel Pokemon for "candy", which you use to level up your higher level Pokemon of the same type. Finally you can walk to a gym and beat up other players' Pokemon to capture that gym in a system that gives a whole new meaning to the term "open world PvP".
I would imagine this focus on running around a lot has health benefits, unless you walk in front of a bus while catching a Pokemon. But as gameplay goes it isn't terribly interesting. Catching Pokemon with the augmented realit camera on looks cool, but the actual gameplay is trivial enough. And the PvP is of the absolutely worst kind, with a strong impact on the combat power (kind of level) of your Pokemon and new players pretty much unable to capture gyms from hardcore players several hundred levels above them.
After playing for a few days, enough to form an educated opinion, I uninstalled Pokemon Go. Unless you are a huge Pokemon fan, I can't really recommend the game. However you might want to try it a bit for free to see for yourself what all the fuzz is about.