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The Spinoff’s Pokémon GO heretic walks back into the light

Pokémon Go has turned the world upside down. It’s led players into armed ambushes. It’s got them stumbling across washed up corpses. And after something of a online outcry to his first review, it’s even forced Joseph Harper to get his feet wet again.

Last week I tried playing Pokémon Go and it pissed me off.

I got a lot of shit from people who were absolutely loving it. Fair enough. Their zealous reaction even convinced me to give it another crack. The game is definitely a lot less frustrating now that some of the server issues seem to have been ironed out. I can definitely see the appeal. The simple existence of augmented reality gaming is worth going apeshit about. It’s cool. The Pokemon are as cute as they’ve ever been, and seeing them sitting on your bed or in the park you walk through to get to work or in your toilet is great. I still didn’t feel compelled to go hunting.

All weekend though there were Pokémon Go-ers, striding about, faces aglow with blue light, their features warped in that familiar gurn unique to those focusing on a video game.  Members of my netball team discussed whether or not to visit the park across the road to try challenge the gym there. I saw a friend nearly walk out into traffic. When he saw me, he raised the screen of his phone at me as if to say, “It’s fine. I was catching a Pokémon.” You can’t dislike that. People loving a game is always good.

The real pivotal moment was when New Zealand’s funniest man, Ra Pomare posted this facebook status:

RA_STATUS_001

No matter how unsatisfying its mechanics are, any game that causes this kind of groundswell of enthusiasm is good for games as a whole. I may have no interest in biking to Mission Bay to catch a Pikachu, but the fact that hundreds of sweet people in puffer jackets do, is pretty awesome.

The number of players will surely fall away pretty swiftly. But hopefully Pokémon Go can sustain enough of this massive initial audience it has grabbed, long enough to force Nintendo overlords to continue to make it better. And if that in some small way helps a Nintendo resurgence then we are all better off for it. Also after the death rattle of the Wii-U and half a year of increasing paranoia that the NX may never come, it’s just nice to see Nintendo get a win.

In the words of a cool villain who just got absolutely owned: “Darn it”. You have made me realise that Pokémon Go is good.


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