Last week when Pokemon GO launched, my social media feeds were filled with friends going on adventures capturing Pokemon around the world. Most of my friends have not been into Pokemon since the 90s, so it’s great to see Pokemon as a main topic of conversation again. My love for Pokemon has never stopped and I’ve beaten most of the games, even the numerous spin offs, so I had to download Pokemon GO to beat my friends. However, there was one problem. Pokemon GO is based around the concept of walking around and stopping to capture Pokemon. As someone that’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t get out much, I knew this would be an issue for me.
When my Pokemon GO download finished, I opened the app wondering how I was going to play the game. I customized my trainer avatar and easily captured my first Pokemon which was Charmander, the same starter I picked in Pokemon Red decades ago. After picking Charmander, the game expected me to go on an adventure. This is where I expected my adventure to end.
The reality that I could not play Pokemon GO was starting to set in, but before I gave up hope, I checked the in-game items to see what they do. After scrolling past Pokeballs and egg-incubators, I saw an item called incense. “Incense can be used to attract more Pokemon to you. Its effects last for 30 minutes.” Not sure of incense’s effect, I went ahead and used one of two incense items I received at the beginning of the game. Not 10 seconds later, a Pokemon appeared at my feet. It was a Pidgey! Ecstatic, I threw a Pokeball at it and caught it on my first try. For the next 30 minutes, more Pokemon came. Rattata, Weedle, and Zubat were all mine! Thrilled, I used another incense. This time was disappointing; only Pidgey and Rattata showed up.
Still, I was having a great time and found a way I could play the game. So, through the power of microtransactions, I ended up with 25 more incense and many Pokeballs. While Pidgey and Rattata were in abundance, other Pokemon also came like Staryu and even a Bulbasaur! With all the Pokemon I was catching, I was able to level up multiple times and even evolve a few of my best.
My Pokemon GO experience has been radically different than my friends. I have not battled in any gyms nor have I been given the option to pick a team. I have not met Pokemon on my commute to work or while walking in the park. However, I currently have more Pokemon than any of my friends, even if most are Pidgey. I also have a Pidgeot that’s fantastic for my current player level. I’m still able to talk to my friends about the game and once trading is implemented, I’ll be trading powerful Pidgeots and Raticates for Pokemon I need.
While I don’t see myself buying incense often, the experience has been fun enough where I’ll refill my stock occasionally. When I do get out, I’ll be sure to make the most of my time and try to catch as many Pokemon as I can. Pokemon GO in its current state is fun but it’s clear that there will be more content added to the game in the future. While I want to see trading fully functional and improvements to the battle system, I also have a short wish list to make Pokemon GO more accessible and viable for my method of play:
- Auto-throw for Pokeballs. I’ve missed countless Pokeball throws on flying Pokemon despite being able to play most mobile games without issue. Disabling Augmented Reality helps but only slightly. An option to have Pokeballs automatically thrown (possibly with a lower capture rate for balance) would help tons of people.
- Photo Mode. After catching many Pokemon, I’d like to be able to take pictures with them. This game can’t offer much in the way of offline content due to its nature, but a way for me to take pictures with my caught Pokemon would be great.
- Super/Hyper incense. A way to attract rarer and out of region Pokemon to my location. Potions and Pokeballs have a variety of strengths, so why not incense?
In conclusion, I enjoy Pokemon GO because I love seeing Pokemon in my world and discussing the game with my friends. As an offline experience, it’s nothing compared to the main game series, but I haven’t enjoy a spin off game this much in a long time. It has the potential to be one of the best mobile games on the market and I hope to see many features added over time. If interest around the game dies, I’d stop playing it, but I wouldn’t regret the time I’ve had playing. Catching a Charmander in my room is a fantasy I’ve had since the 90s, and this game let me live it. To me, that made Pokemon GO worth downloading.