You have seen absurdly large crowds gathered around the local churches and parks… all on their phones instead of talking to each other. You might have seen people driving very slowly or walking around in loops holding up their phones, almost certainly looking for directions. If you’ve even been on Facebook or Twitter lately, you’re bound to understand that this phenomenon is the result of the phone game Pokemon Go.
If you were born in the early 2000s or earlier than you’re familiar with Pokemon. Everyone knows Pikachu, the little yellow fan favorite icon. The story line behind the media and anime game centered around trainers collecting “Pokemon” creatures to train and battle.
Nintendo’s stock went up a whole 10% with the release of this game that millions are playing. We knew Pokemon fans were still out there. In the last 20 years it was a video game, it was a TV show, there were comic books, toys, and trading cards. Now the movement has resurged as a phone game, and if you don’t play it, you’re simply not cool.
What is Pokemon Go?
So the most obvious question to answer for you newbies out there is what exactly is this game? Pokemon is word play for “pocket monsters.” In the virtual games, monsters run around the land and you capture them. The phone game has taken it to the next level. You’re still capturing monsters, but as yourself, in your own world. And no, you don’t have to be a Pokemon expert to understand or be good at it.
You can download the free (!) mobile app on Android or IOS devices. Like many other games, you have the option to use real money to exchange for the game currency called PokeCoins. $0.99 will get you 100 coins. PokeCoins will help you buy Pokeballs and catch the pets, but it’s not necessary to spend money. You can naturally gain PokeCoins by spending time and energy developing your expertise at the game.
When you open the app, the game will tap into your real world location and open what looks exactly like a GPS, but with your avatar standing in it. You walk around going about your daily business, and every so often a Pokemon creature will appear on your screen overlaid on top of what you really see in front of you.
Downloading the Game
Pokemon Go is currently based in the United States, and easiest to access and play there. Downloading the game outside of the United States is possible, but you have to work your way around the system.
For Android users:
Perform a Google search for “Pokemon Go APK” and download the file from a source you trust. You will have to change your settings, so through the “security” tab, make sure unknown sources are enabled.
If you have an iPhone:
You will need to sign out of your Apple ID account before downloading. Then go to your general settings, and change your region to the United States, and language to English. Access the Pokemon Go App store link, click install, and follow the prompt steps to create a new U.S. based Apple ID. You can select “none” as the payment information, since the app is free. Verify your new Apple account’s email address, open the app store again, sign in, and then finally search for and download the game.
Note that gameplay varies in countries where the app is not live yet. You may experience less Pokemons or Pokestops, however game play should be up to speed and run like it’s supposed to. There are several reviews on the Internet of users who happily play the game in several countries, so don’t let location stop you.
How to Play
This is your step-by-step guide for how to begin playing the game.
1. Create your character. Your trainer can be either gender, have any unique name you can imagine, and wear customized hunting gear of your choice.
2. Get the lowdown. New users will immediately encounter Professor Willow, the virtual Pokemon professor who will explain the rules and dynamics of playing the game. After explaining what buttons to push and the likes, he will grant you a few beginning Pokeballs.
3. Capture your first pets. The game practically gifts you with your first pet. The first generation Pokemons (aka Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle) are kind of just hanging out there, and the professor has conveniently given you enough Pokeballs to capture one. Simply slide your Pokeball in that direction. Don’t worry; the rest of the game certainly isn’t that easy.
4. Explore. Check out the screenshot to figure out where to start and familiarize yourself with the game
1) Compass used to change the point of view between North directional and free rotation. Use it to see what’s around you or change your direction.
2) This is a gym location icon. Pokemon teams should train and battle at the gyms.
3) A Pokeshop icon. Come here to buy your Pokeballs, eggs, potions, and other things.
4) This is the virtual version of you.
5) Tap your avatar icon to view your profile and list of achievements.
6) The “home button” or main menu. Change your settings or locate the Pokedex and shops from here.
7) The magic button that will display pets for catching as they appear.
Where to Play
You can play the game anywhere. However, it’s meant to make you move around. It’s not a game you can enjoy while sitting on your living room couch all day. The best places to take your phone are to hot spots. If you live near a popular amusement park, college campus, or the mountains then go there. You will find that lots of pets will be waiting at churches, schools, and local parks.
Unfortunately, you cannot leave the game in the background. It must be up running as the main focus on your screen at all times. As you can imagine, this drains the battery pretty fast. Don’t leave home unprepared without a full charge.
Capturing Your Pokemons
Capturing your pets is the most fun and rewarding part of the game. New pets will appear at random as you walk around. You should actively look for them in popular locations near you. The bar in the lower right corner of your screen will activate when a creature is nearby. If a silhouette shows up here, you know you’ve down something right and you’re close to a capture.
Once you see the Pokemon, tap on it to enter the capturing mode. You can use the digital mode, but most prefer to use the AR mode, which makes the Pokemon appear in your world. This is how all those pictures of animated Pokemon at the grocery store; your school, or even sometimes an awkward occasion (like a funeral… yikes!) are made.
Swipe your Pokeball at the Pokemon, being sure to aim for the center mass. The Pokemon have the ability to dodge and fight back! You’re lucky if you get it on the first try; it can take multiple attempts and Pokeballs. Of course, the more rare Pokemon will be harder to capture.
Both you as a trainer, and your pets, can gain levels of expertise. Your trainer must be at least a level 5 in order to go to the gyms around you.
Pokemon reach the next levels by eating candies you get from capturing the same kind of Pokemon. Capturing a second Squirtle will give you more Squirtle candies to give to the first Squirtle for leveling up or evolving purposes. Evolving requires far more candies than simply leveling up. You must capture a lot of Pokemon to do any evolving. Send your extra Pokemons to Professor Willow.
Joining a Team
Are you even a Pokemon Go player if you don’t have a team? Game experts will immediately want to know what team you’re on, so join one before you look like an amateur! But don’t be rash. Figure out how to join the best one for you here.
There are 3 teams: Team Instinct, Team Mystic, and Team Valor. The moment you reach the coveted level 5, (the stage where you unlock the ability to battle in gyms and many other features) Professor Willow will introduce you to the three-team leaders and force you to pick a team. And once you pick, you can’t make changes. You must be prepared for this moment before making a hasty decision! When you battle another gym, you’re doing so on behalf of your team and there’s no changing sides.
This is the “yellow team.” It’s led by Spark, who believes in trusting our instincts. If you think the talent of your pets is innate, and battle by way of trusting your gut, then this is the team for you. Should you choose this team; the mascot you will represent is the Zapdos bird.
This is the “blue team.” The brainy Blanche is in charge. The members of this team are edgy and trendy— and particularly concerned with evolution. If you are interested in the science part of Pokemon and battle by keeping calm, then this is the team for you. Should you chose this path; the mascot you will represent is the icy Articuno.
This is the “red team.” Spunky Candela calls the shots. Her minions are only those who seek to be the very best Pokemaster and are willing to train for it. If you believe in bonding with your pets and winning by playing to their strengths, then this is the team for you. Should you go down this path, the mascot you will represent is the Moltres fire bird.
Become a Gym Leader
If you’re at all familiar with the Pokemon concept, you probably know how the gym works. The gym leader defends the gym while challengers come and try to take over. In Pokemon Go, when you battle a gym and win, the prestige goes down a little. The prestige much reach bottom level before you can actually claim the gym and become its leader.
At this point, you must leave one of your Pokemon at the gym to defend it in your place. It will be removed from your collection.
If you come across an empty gym, you don’t even have to fight anyone for it. Just leave a Pokemon there to claim and defend it.
Here’s your complete list of Pokemon Go pets and an explanation of their rarity to date. There are a total of 71 pets on the list for you to collect; however the game hasn’t been out that long to complete it. Nintendo claims there are actually a whopping 151 pets! Maybe you will be the first to find something not on the list.
It’s even been said that Nintendo is getting paid to lure the most rare and popular pets into certain businesses and locations!
As you can see, fan favorites like Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Pikachu are pretty special. A rattata or zubat— not so much. Some pets are so rare that they are believed to be myths. They’ll have you searching high and low to find them.
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking and exploring quite a lot!
Catch the duplicates. It takes up Pokeballs, but they will gain you extra candy and stardust you can use for making your existing pets stronger. You can give them away to Professor Willow.
Take eggs from the PokeStops. Put them in an incubator and walk around to birth your own Pokemon.
Incense is good. It will attract Pokemon to where you are for a good 30 minutes.
Never leave home without a fully charged phone and your battery case or portable charger. Pokemon Go is a battery sucker. Wouldn’t want to be right in the middle of a battle when your phone dies.
The way you toss Pokeballs is vital. The better your toss is, the more experience points you will earn. Send a curveball for flare, or widen the green circle as much as possible before the toss for the greatest probability of making the catch.
Stay safe. Don’t keep your face down as you play and make your self a target for pick-picketers and other real life villains! Don’t play the game while driving. And always be aware of your surroundings. Bumping into someone or tripping and falling isn’t worth breaking your phone and not being able to play the game.
Pokemon Go is the best secret exercise app there is! You have to get off the couch to play, and end up being social and making new friends based on your team and pets you may have. The more you explore, the more you will get out of the game.