Released: July 6, 2016 (US and Australia), July 13, 2016 (Europe)
Pokémon Go was finally released in the UK a few days ago, and it has quickly captured the attention of many people. I have already seen many people out and about, congregating around PokéStops and Pokémon Gyms and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m one of these people. Pokémon Go allows fans of the original games and television series to go out and experience life as a Pokémon trainer, like the characters they played as and watched did. It’s exciting to see Pokémon that you know and love pop up in familiar places. Although I was never a fan of bug type Pokémon, I was ecstatic when I first came across a Weedle. The game does come with its problems but I’ll go over the good things first.
The app is highly addictive. You can’t just stop at catching one Pokémon, you gotta catch ’em all! Especially when there’s word of people having already gone through the enormous challenge of evolving their Magikarp into a mighty Gyarados, it drives you to want to do the same and become even better than them. It’s all a bit of healthy competition and it’s bringing together people from all walks of life. I’ve seen several posts on Reddit about people becoming friends with those that they meet at PokéStops. There are also people claiming that the app is helping to improve their mental state as it is encouraging them to go outside and get exercise in. Those Eggs won’t hatch on their own! This alone is enough to convince me that the game is worth investing some time into. Pokémon Go has already impacted many people’s lives and the majority of people are in love with this game. I do genuinely believe that the app is encouraging children to get out of the house more as well. There’s been a lot of talk about how kids these days are constantly stuck in front of screens, and although Pokémon Go involves a mobile device, it does make them want to be outside catching their favourite animated creatures.
I went on my first PokéWalk yesterday morning (I would have gone sooner if I wasn’t busy with graduation the day after the app’s release in the UK), and although I didn’t catch any wild Pokémon, the walk itself was lovely. My family moved house around a month before I had gone off to university and so I had not had much of a chance to explore the local area. Pokémon Go gave me an excuse to do so, and I really enjoyed myself. I ran into a couple of children with their mum who were also out on the hunt for Pokémon and we all looked just as excited as one another. I believe that people have a tendency of staying indoors these days, it’s not just children, and so Pokémon Go has given people a reason to go outside, even if it is only for twenty minutes or so.
Now, unfortunately there is a myriad of problems with the app and I have to address these issues because I do pride myself on being able to write about both sides of a topic, and also because these technical issues are such a prevalent problem that it is difficult to ignore them. The biggest problem that I have encountered when playing Pokémon Go is not necessarily down to the game but, because I happen to live in the middle of no where, the internet signal is terrible. Now, this could be down to the combination of having a four year old iPhone 5 and being on a rather terrible mobile network because it’s cheap. However, because of this, I have found it exceedingly difficult to do well in this game as I live in a small village with poor reception and so walking around in search of Pokémon is not usually successful. In all honesty, I have better luck catching Pokémon just by turning on an incense and just waiting around for them to turn up. Today, I have managed to catch a few Pidgeys, Rattatas and Spearows as they seem to be in abundance. But amongst these common Pokémon, I have also caught Drowzee, Zubat, Magnemite, Koffing, Geodude, Magikarp, Psyduck and Goldeen. I’m sure I would have better luck in cities, but am I really willing to go to somewhere like London just to catch Pokémon? If I don’t even want to upgrade to a better, more expensive mobile network, then I doubt I’ll fork up the money for a train ride.
The other problem that happened without fail earlier in the day was that every time I threw a Pokéball to catch one of these beasts, the game would freeze. It would take a minimum of three attempts to restart the app and reconnect to the server and despite my attempts, it would only sometimes register the Pokémon that I had initially caught before the game decided to rob me of my joy. This does not often occur when playing through WiFi (A/N: I take this back. It’s now happened three times in a row over WiFi as I write this post), but it was a common occurrence when playing through 3G and 4G. This brings me onto the frequent server crashes and login failures that happen all too often. I have read many complaints where people have expressed disappointment in not being able to even connect to the server, let alone suffer the glitches that occur within the game. The server practically had a meltdown after the European release of the game. It was released in twenty-six countries on the same day and that was it. Millions of people trying to access the game crashed the server, but despite the app already having numerous problems it was decided that a mass release of the game was a good idea. Perhaps fixing the game before doing this would have been a better idea. As I’m writing this, the game has crashed after I just caught a Staryu (A/N: It did not register the Staryu after I had finally managed to load the app again, and I’m very annoyed about this).
These issues are very unfortunate as it is a very fun game to play, but the glitches and crashes make it difficult to enjoy it. It is also off putting when you’re not sure if the game will save your progress because of these frequent crashes and the host of other problems that it harbours. I am going out later this week with friends to try and catch Pokémon in a neighbouring town and maybe I’ll have a better experience then. A week is a fairly long time for Niantic and Nintendo to make the appropriate changes to the app, and who knows, perhaps they’ll have these issues fixed soon. I would love to write more positive things about the app, but as of now the game is quite broken and so it would be unfair to base a final judgement on the app as it stands right now. Once the technical issues have been addressed and the app is finished, I will then write another post outlining how these things have been fixed or not (A/N: I have now also been deprived of catching a Poliwirl. These problems need to be addressed sooner rather than later).
As a side note, the fact that I have to update this post with how the game continues to somehow break is highly irritating and disappointing. Apparently the servers have been dodgy all day and so it’s advised that if you are able to sign in then do be careful when using lures, incenses and lucky eggs as the game may crash. Honestly, I expect more from Nintendo, Niantic and The Pokémon Company. They have made more than enough money in the last couple of weeks, and it’s not as though they don’t have the funds to fix these problems.