Pokemon GO – First Impressions

Originally published on Trevor Trove on July 9, 2016

Well Pokemon GO came out this week. And tonight, I was finally able to consistently play it for a few hours without getting turned away by bad servers.

For context, I live in a small apartment complex a few blocks off of a “main” street so if I want to head to the nearest Pokestop or Pokemon Gym, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the elementary school down the street or the church in the other direction. Not at all bad until you remember I live in the Phoenix area and it’s 96° Fahrenheit as I write this at nearly midnight.

I foolishly walked about fifteen minutes to lunch the other day, which I actually usually do (even before this game made walking places cool). Not only am I sweating through my business attire, but holding my Galaxy S7 in hand and occasionally connecting to the Pokemon servers means the phone is burning up inside and out and probably singing the top layer of skin on my palm. The speed with which this game burns through your battery is so over-the-top bad it has become a joke. Couple that with an Arizona summer and I’ll probably need a new phone again in a couple months if I keep this up.

On that walk, I literally passed by one Pokestop (there are more on that route but I was only connected to the server on the way back), I caught a Paras and I failed to catch a Golbat, in large part because the phone was burning my hand to badly to properly aim and fling my Pokeballs (which I already suck at because the games does shit-all to tell you how to not suck at it…because they want you to waste a dozen Pokeballs on that Pidgey so you’ll buy more). I nicknamed that Paras “101°F” because that was the temperature on my phone at the time. I caught another one sitting around my apartment and nicknamed it “96°F” and I’ll probably keep this trend up as long as I bother continued to catch Parases (Parasii?).

I hit Level 5 this afternoon which means I can finally do gym stuff I guess. I’m certainly tempted to try and take over that elementary school gym to mess with the kids but then I remember they’re out for the summer anyway so it’s probably just being fought over by other people in my neighborhood. I’ve caught probably around 40 Pokemon so far (I’ve transferred some duplicates for the candy): 19 unique and I’ve seen another 4. I’ve been enjoying the dumb nicknames I’ve come of for them and sharing those screenshots with friends. And I’ve been tweeting snarky comments most of the week about this game.

And today, I had my first three real-life interactions with other people outside of my video game circles on Twitter.

  1. When I got to the office this morning, there was another guy waiting for his elevator battling a Pokemon. I know this because I heard the battle theme music and I had spent the entire walk in from my car attempting to connect in order to see what, if any, Pokestops I had near my office building. So I was simply left wondering how he had connected but I had been blocked out. Then I remembered, oh that’s right, Nintendo doesn’t know what the fuck their doing with this because they’ve never had a online server-centric success featuring this many players before so it’s just a crap shoot. I’m honestly surprised that a Friday night has been the most stable they’ve performed. I figured for sure if they weren’t working on a Thursday afternoon, they wouldn’t work over the weekend.
  2. While at lunch, my sister texted me saying I bet I’m glad I still have unlimited data for this Pokemon app that just came out and asked if I was playing it. We visited a bit more about it and I told her what some of the icons meant and tips and tricks. She also has very little in the way of landmarks around her.
  3. Near the end of the day at work, one of my co-workers, who I know plays stuff like Magic: The Gathering with her husband, asked me if I was playing it. And we talked about the game a bit. Her husband is apparently jealous because she’ll play while he’s driving so she’s catching more Pokemon than he is. I told her about how I caught a Kadabra right there at my desk this afternoon. I named it “Leviosa” (and the Abra I caught later “Wingardium”).

Meanwhile, I’m watching friends of mine online who have grown so weary of the server issues and overall lack of “game” that they’re already deleting it from their phones. I’m still a bit too much of a nostalgic collector to cut ties just yet, but this definitely is a bare bones version of what this game should be. A lot of sites were reporting today that Nintendo shares are going through the roof because of this game. Because of course they are. Nintendo finally delivered a version of the game that people have been clamoring for since people realized smartphones could basically be a Pokedex. They’re going to make millions off of kids buying new Pokeballs to feed this new era of the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” craze. And it’s managed to bring suckers like me, who have lapsed from the series’ regularly installment to pop in and see what’s up. They probably won’t get my money, but they don’t need it when there are people out there spending $100 for 14,500 Pokecoins, which can in turn get them 3,620 Pokeballs.

I’ll just try and manage with my occasional breaks to the fountains downstairs at work and pick up a few spare Pokeballs every now and then. And who knows, maybe I’ll be insane enough to brave the heating walking in order to start hatching some of these eggs.

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