Monday, 18 July 2016

Review: Pokemon Go UK

Pokemon Go: Finally its here in the UK!

I loved the original Pokemon games back from the 90s and as a 80's child Pokemon was one of the first games I played on a rare (now vintage) hand held gaming console. If you have not already seen my "Personal Experience: Pokemon Games of the 1990's" post please be sure to take a look at that also. I was thrilled when here in the UK we were able to get our hands on the brand new mobile "Pokemon Go" game.
The cat brought in another bird

It is a very quick and easy start to the game, first you have to make yourself a free "Trainer Account" which when created allows you to login to your Pokemon game from any other device. Which is a very useful feature if you have say, an iPhone and an iPad. It should mean that your game play is always synced so that you will never loose anything no matter what device you are using, just be sure to not login at the same time on both devices as that will be sure to cause issues unless the developer have already addressed this possible issue.

Once you have your "Trainer Account" you can then go on to create your own avatar, and username you can choose to be either a boy or girl and then choose what skin tone, hair colour, accessories, hat and clothing you want your character to wear, I was a little disappointed at the lack of choice but I am sure that new clothing and accessories can be added in the future.

At least he wasn't in the road
Once you have your trainer account, avatar and username the world is your domain. I found the tutorials very lacking in information, some things I had to go online to find out more about such as how to actually collect more Pokeballs from those "PokeStop" things. I forget the correct name. It was not obvious to me that I had to spin the disk showing the photo of the location. And the other issue that I did have was the random floating leaves. It was not clear that these are supposed to be the same as the "Tall Grass" where wild hidden Pokemon would  jump out at you (sometimes).

Is this seat taken?
The way the game is technically designed is very good, they have implemented the "maps" extremely well. I live in a built up area which is right by the ocean and you can actually count the houses on the map and it matches the number of houses there are in my terrace. It also has all the back streets showing as proper roads in the game, this is very good and I didn't expect that level of detailing in the maps. The mapping system has a very good understanding of local areas, I don't know what mapping technology they have paried up with but from what I have seen it is very accurate and somehow knows the difference between residential areas, grassland areas (such as golf course) and clearly shows beaches and bodies of water such as the sea, rivers, ponds and ever overflow water ducts and canals. I am very impressed with their mapping system and kudos to the developer who made it happen. As I live near the ocean (about 200 metres away) I do see a lot of the water based Pokemon, I was lucky enough to find a "Seel" in my living room but of course I did find a "Rattata" in my bathroom.

The game uses local points of interest and marks them as the "PokeStop" places where you can collect free Pokeballs and find other items such as Eggs which you can hatch in an incubator. I am very lucky as there are six of these collection points within 5 minutes of walking around my house. I am also very lucky to have a "PokeGym" extremely close to my house, and I have joined Gym Mystic although I am yet to try this feature out. The Gym is unlocked at level 5.

Once thing that does stand out though and I feel it could be open to abuse is the "Incense Burner" which "Lures" Pokemon to the place it was activated, I believe it is only publicly visible (and also displays the player name of who activated it) when used on one of the "PokeStop" collection areas. Even though its activation lasts 30 minutes I can see this public display that is visible on everyone's device who is local to that area to  also lure other real and dangerous "predators" to the location.

Jigglypuff is taunting us
Zubat in the aquarium?
On a positive note though, on the day of its release I did go for a walk with my partner so I could figure out how to use the "PokeStop" collection areas and figure out what those floating leaves were all about. We passed four or five family groups who were parents taking their children out Pokemon hunting. This was a beautiful thing to see as parents rarely take their children out for walks anymore and I feel thing game may actually bring families closer together in this aspect. The parents were playing the game too, they were a similar age to myself and probably remember the old Pokemon Blue and Yellow games. Although this being said we did also pass a group of 6 or 7 children on their own sat at a "PokeStop" collection area playing the game too. At least they were not on their own I suppose.

The morning after I was having a bit of a dilemma with the game, I had run out of Pokeballs and it was raining outside so I didn't want to go out walking in the rain to collect more Pokeballs even though it was only a 5 minute walk away. So instead we got in the car and had a 6 mile drive up-to the nearest large town. Along the way and on the way back, I managed to collect 143 Pokeballs and 7 eggs from the "PokeStop" collection areas, I had just enough time when passing the location at 30-40 MPH to collect from most of the locations that we passed. I also managed to catch a couple of new Pokemon while we were waiting at the traffic lights.
Should I turn the stove top on?

My husband who was driving decided that it would be hilarious to kangaroo jump the car when he saw I was attempting to capture a wild "Pidgeoto" that was at the side of the road. He did make sure it was safe to do so as there was no traffic around us but needless to say - that "Pidgeoto"... got away.

Also it appear that while you are moving faster than walking speed, this will not incubate your eggs. I travelled 6 miles in the car and still my 2 kilometre egg had not hatched, it must only register if below a certain speed... probably maxed out around 3-5 miles per hour.

Today it has been extremely difficult to get onto the game itself due to their server issues, but this was resolved in a few hours, apparently a DDOS attack which is basically opening and closing ports on their game servers continually until it just blocks up and wont let any more connections through. This in my opinion is very poor technicians knowledge server side as no-one in their right mind would leave ports open that could cause such disruption to such a big game. Safety and security should be first priority - and then profits.

Rattata in the bath!
So as you can tell I am impressed with the new Pokemon Go on a variety of different levels... literally. Its a great game for players of all ages and I do hope that if you have not yet tried it, that you do choose to join the team and give Pokemon Go, a go.

Useful Pokemon Go Links

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