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Pop CultureFebruary 22, 2017

Pokémon Go: why now is the best time to load up your poké balls


Pokémon Go slayed 2016 and with a new update it might very well nail 2017 as well. Joseph Harper has ripped into Gen 2 and oh boy, he likes it.

When Pokémon Go launched last year, it was downloaded by approximately fifty million people who leapt at the opportunity to feed berries to, throw balls at, and ultimately imprison, gorgeous little Japanese monsters and carry them around in ‘digital form’. I obviously decided it was worth lazily laying into. For some reason the most obviously hugely popular game of the year was surprising successful to the creators and as such their servers bugged out to hell. To help cope, crucial features were disabled, but players weren’t made aware of the fact. It started life as a blockbuster shambles. But it got better. With time, features were restored. Issues were ironed out. With the ability to track Pokémon came purpose. Pokémon Go evolved for a hugely popular, but kind of shitty product into an exceptional mobile gaming experience.

What I’m trying to say is that even though I rubbished it, Pokémon Go was easily my most played game of 2016. It got to the point where I would wake up an hour early just to hit the pavement and gather candies by repeatedly hitting up the ‘Sandringham Turn-around’. I walked 96kms with my Kadabra/best friend to evolve him into a beautiful moustachioed Alakazam. I advanced to level 25 and filled 125 slots on my Kanto dex.

Then they went and dropped a massive update, the main upside of which was the inclusion of ~80 hot new second generation Pokemon to catch. Certain tiny little babies were already available via egg hatching, but now you could wander down your local Pokéstop and be inundated with Sentret, Slugma, Mercrow and the like. The update was mana from Pokémon heaven! Little sweeties like Totodile brightened up my walk to work. Disgusting little Wooper-like critters started showing their hideous faces at the church round the corner. Even the sexiest Pokémon of all started to make an appearance or two. I know the Johto Pokedex isn’t the most beloved ‘dex of all, but there are a few little beauties in there that will get you fisting the air after a successful curve ball toss.

On top of this, the Gold/Silver update added a few wrinkles to the game’s mechanics. New berries let you make a Pokemon ‘chill out’ or let you pump it for extra candy. The Pokemon themselves have gotten a bit friskier. Now instead of just jumping or voguing Pokéballs away for six, they vibe around the edges of your screen, adding a little variety to the ball chucking regimen.

The microtransaction game has also upped the ante. You can now buy your avatar a fancy cheese cutter, a fifty shades of grey mask, or a hoodie with a lightning on it. Check out this sick dude who went full-on Hideo Kojima by pairing his beastly Snorlax with tasteful glasses and putting on his (expensive) pants and jacket.

What I’m trying to tell you is that Pokémon Go is good again, and if you’re one of the (assumedly) millions who played for a bit and then ditched it, now is the perfect time to restock your ballbag and hit the pavement.

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