There are no two ways about it – Pokémon Go was terrible at launch and continues to be a smouldering pile of crap about a month later. It’s just a really poorly designed, annoying, and downright buggy application, relying almost solely on the nostalgia of fans to keep it going. We’ll get back to that a little later.
But see, nothing I just said changes the fact that Pokémon Go is still one of the most fun, addictive, and stupidly brilliant games I’ve played in years. Hit the jump for some sweet, sweet contradictions.
Before we begin, let’s take another look at the first trailer for the game. You know, the one that promised us the greatest Pokéworld we’ve ever seen, and reignited the fire of the aspiring Pokémaster within us all. THIS trailer.
Way too good to be true. No seriously, the only thing the trailer got right about the actual game was the title. As of right now most of the cool stuff included in the trailer — trading, trainer battles, events, a good tracking system, and even Mewtwo — are absent from the current version of Pokémon Go. I mean, we should all be quite used to being lied to by game trailers by now, but this seems a little too ridiculous.
While we’re on the topic of ridiculousness, how is it possible that the game has been out for about a month, and it’s still more buggy than a Weedle orgy? Sure the server issues seem to have subsided for most users, but that was only a drop in the ocean of problems currently plaguing the app. The issues I’ve run into on more than one occasion are as follows: some Pokémon are much tougher to catch than they rightfully should be, certain gyms display an error when trying to initiate battles, freezes that are only resolved by a restart, and lagging animations. But the mother of all bugs has got to be the Pokémon tracking system, which, at its best, is merely a confirmation of what you already see on-screen, and at worst an infuriatingly useless piece of trash.
All of these things, as well as a bunch of other minor annoyances, are more than enough justification for some people to uninstall the app, or to just outright refuse to download it. I personally considered uninstalling on more than one occasion, most notably when I missed out on capturing a 1000 something CP Aerodactyl because the game bombed just as it went into the Pokéball.
Here’s the thing: Even though the game has officially released in most parts of the world (except South Africa, because South Africa), I still consider it to be in beta. This way of thinking has made living with all the issues a lot easier.
Patches for the game are being pushed out by Niantic on a fairly regular basis, and with each one, Pokémon Go gets ever closer to what it was meant to be. Tons of issues have already been fixed, and it really seems like the team at Niantic are listening to the complaints of their players. But bugs and server issue fixes aren’t the only things the developers are working on, and Niantic has even said that the current version of the game only includes about ten percent of what they hope to give players in the future. This includes trading, trainer battles outside of gyms, and basically everything else I moaned about earlier.
But until then, Pokémon Go is still the closest we’ve ever come to a fully immersive Pokémon world. It encourages players to go outside and forces them to look at their surroundings in a way they would never have done before. I’ve personally discovered places I would have never known existed if not for the app. I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for about 20 years, and never realised how many cool murals, statues, museums, beautiful buildings, and sculptures were just sitting around waiting to be appreciated. Sure this exploration into unfamiliar areas hasn’t worked out all that well for some people, and sure it’s being blamed for a whole bunch of other incidents. Hell, I was even involved in an extremely awkward misunderstanding with “member of the oldest profession” while attempting to take down a gym late at night, but these unfortunate events are very few, and even farther between.
Speaking of awkward social encounters, that’s kind of what Pokémon Go is all about.
The prospect of potentially interacting with random people wasn’t something I was all too thrilled about when details of the game first started to emerge, mostly because I have hilariously poor social skills. But as the days went on and I started more actively dropping lures on pokéstops, and battling gyms for control, I started meeting more and more people. Usually, this would be a slight inconvenience, but thanks to Pokémon Go, I know I already have at least one thing in common with everyone I meet at these places — a mutual love for all things Pokémon. So I started talking to other players about where to find which Pokémon, about when the best time would be to take gyms, and about how cool it is for all of us to meet the way we did. Well, if we could find a way to put aside the whole gang-war thing aside for long enough, that is. And if I wasn’t already in a kickass relationship, I’m sure it would’ve been a great way to get to know a potential partner. Which is probably why there’s already a Pokémon Go dating service.
Another aspect of the game I wasn’t too keen on when just starting out, was the part where I had to walk around. Like, all the time.
It’s not that I don’t like exercising or anything, it’s just, uh… that I prefer hitting the benches rather than the pavement. Yeah, that’s it. Also, I like food. Anyway, I’ve adopted a system where I’d drive to an area populated with tons of Pokéstops and gyms, park the car (because Pokémon Go while driving is really stupid), and then walk around hatching eggs, collecting items, and kicking ass. It’s a system that minimises effort while maximising rewards from said effort. There are even Pokémon Go-related events being held all around SA at locations populated with tons of stops, and never-ending lures as far as the eye can see. You’re not likely to find a more fun way to get in shape.
There’s a saying that goes “just because something’s [massively] popular, doesn’t mean that it’s any good,” but in the case of Pokémon Go, it’s not only a cultural phenomenon the likes of which we haven’t seen in a good long while, it’s also a damned decent game that definitely deserves a shot. At the very least, don’t write it off just yet, it’s only going to get a hell of a lot better over the coming months.