Pokemon Go has done something to the greater masses of people, other than those of us who have long toiled in the Poke-Mines. Pokemon remains a popular series, sure, but it’s hard to say who was really playing those games. My friends and I would always pick up the newest Pokemon and spend countless hours catching some of them, lamenting that we could not, however, actually catch them all. The few of us there were had no public face, we did not carry our Nintendo 3DS around in public staring at it, shouting things about Pokemon at strangers. Surely, these new Pokemon Go players must know that Pokemon has not vanished in their fifteen year absence from the series. I find myself wondering what will happen to Pokemon now that an older breed of Pokemon player has been brought back into the fold. When the time comes, will they be prepared to dive deeper into the world of Pokemon, and how many of them actually will. Even though Pokemon Go has brought the casual player back into Pokemon, it feels as if it’s lessening the long appreciation I’ve had for the brand.
Pokemon has long been an establishment in my life. I have never missed a major release, and I doubt I ever will. Now, I respect the people who fully devote their free time to playing every version of Pokemon in existence but I categorize myself as a casual-hardcore player of the games. The battles and leveling are what bring me in. The story, although always present, has never done anything for me, except in the case of the first games where it was a simple and low level as it can get. I was young and familiar with the show, but now the stories consist of metaphorical nonsense about the size of the oceans and gene splitting Pokemon, or something. I really do not even pretend to follow along. Pokemon Go forsakes nearly all of this for the basic collect them all simulation. Most of the time I really do not care to catch them all. In the mainline games I usually pinpoint my favorite Pokemon, or those with certain attributes I require to make the push through to the next gym battle. But, here, I spent three days catching Pidgey, Rattata, and Weedles. I barely want to catch one of those. It escapes me why the developers would see this as a good fit.
Some of my favorite video games are no more than well-dressed version of chess. This is what pulls me into Pokemon. I love to find and prepare certain Pokemon to outmaneuver one another. Nothing brings me more joy than a well-prepped water team against a rock trainer or gym leader. Since every gym I happen upon while playing Pokemon Go, which is usually a church or for some reason the bank by my house, the Pokemon guarding it have a higher CP, which what, and I see no reason to bother even attempt taking it over. I have seen some of the combat in reviews and online and oh boy, do I ever not want to do that with Pokemon. Pokemon Go feels like it took one aspect of Pokemon people might want to do and sort of did that but like really badly. I know why they charge for Pokeballs, because you will miss every Pokemon. A lot. However, I have yet to run out, but I know of those who have. I’m not even really sure why the Pokemon have moves if the battling just consists of swiping and tapping. Maybe next time they can just make it Tinder Pokemon and I’ll just swipe right on Squirtle. That’ll be more fun probably.
Also the game is just straight fucked. I see no reason why I need to have the battery sieve that is Pokemon Go. It’s hard to believe it cannot just read my pedometer data. I am not going on a 5k walk to hatch a goddamn kakuna, or any Pokemon for that matter. I doubt my battery life would even last that long. Near my house there is a park that is full of Pokestops; thanks to the memorial benches and placards. There is where I encountered the Pokemon Go community. Millennials all walking around this small park yelling at one another about their trainer levels, teams, and why the godforsaken Pikachu would not show up. My friend’s phone was on its last legs so he brought a battery pack and walked around the park like a goddamn cyberpunk with a lightning cable sticking into his shorts. This was not why I play Pokemon.
The community is another strange beast. I do not fully understand what I was interacting with at the park. These people were all passionate about Pokemon, but it was hard to judge how much they were actually into it. The experience of finding pokemon in the real world and catching them with our phones is definitely compelling. Even I was there, phone in hand, shamefully catching Pokemon. Then they began to heckle me. I was a low level and it started to get on my nerves. I also do not take kindly to random strangers assuming what I am doing. Maybe I just wanted to go for a walk in the park. I went for a run the next day and a neighbor boy was yelling at me that I was going to find Pokemon. I mean, yes there were Pokemon out there but I did not need to get them. Maybe I’m a grouch and not hopping on this Pokemon Go craze as I should be. A close friend of mine rode his bike to church late at night to battle for a Pokemon gym. I don’t think he knows the last time he went to a church service. Pokemon Go is a danger to us all and it must be stopped.
My friends recently set a play date to go walk around the city and catch Pokemon. One of them is even a crazy level. He blindsided me with how high of a level he had reached. I even re-downloaded the app to go walk around and spin those Poke Stops. Eventually the app stopped working and I was right back at square one. So now, for now, the app is off of my devices. I hope it’s for good. I really do. I never felt like such an idiot.