Veteran trainer James ponders how the game that became an instant phenomenon when it launched in July really feels, now the hype has died down and many trainers have hung up their baseball cap.
According to the game, I’ve travelled 225.12km in the past two-and-a-half months. That number alone is a testament to its success, and even if I stopped now there’s no denying I’ve got my fair share of enjoyment. Of course, like any game, there’s been a fair few frustrating moments too.
The experience has also started to evolve as the months have gone on. First the nearby pokémon feature stopped working, then an appraisal feature was added - for you to rate the effectiveness of your favourite creatures and, most recently, a buddy feature which rewards players with the odd candy as they wander around with a specific pokémon in tow.
Those looking for a Pokémon gaming experience like they remember from their childhood are still going to be disappointed
Each of these changes evolved (no pun intended…) the experience of playing the game, adding different levels of depth and interest to how it is played, but ultimately the game is the same now as it was when it launched - and it isn’t for everyone.
Those looking for a Pokémon gaming experience like they remember from their childhood (anything up to 20 years ago, let’s not forget) are still going to be disappointed. The game is less of a game and more of an accompaniment to walking around, its strength is that some pokémon are so rare, or require so much patience to get hold of, that the satisfaction when you finally do is tremendous.
For example, my 100th pokémon was Machoke, nothing special you might think, but around this neck of the woods, finding Machop (its un-evolved form) is something few and far between, meaning I had to rely on the patience of hatching eggs (and crossing everything each time one hatched) and using the buddy feature to grab that all-important last candy.
Since you only get three candy for each pokémon you catch (and another if you sacrifice it by transferring it to the professor) reaching 100 candy to evolve can be a long process taking weeks - or, in the case of Magikarp and Gyrodos, two-and-a-half months and counting.
It’s not just hatching where frustration lies of course, there’s also the process of swiping Poké Balls to catch ‘em all in the first place, which is far from an exact science, as some animals bolt at the first sign of a shiny sphere coming their way while others simply beg to get caught.
Fixing the nearby pokémon feature must be high on Niantic’s priority list, since it makes the process of catching more about seeking them out than waiting for them to spontaneously appear nearby, and the promise of trainer vs trainer battles in the future may lead to some interesting encounters as well.