Backlog Slog – Pokemon GO

I know Pokemon GO is long past its popular phase. That seemingly all too brief moment in 2016 where the world reached a kind of perfect Pokemon loving harmony. Where we all realized those ‘what if Pokemon was real’ theories about the reality being grim and edgy was, in fact, as far from the truth as possible because we were all losing our minds and having fun.

Alas, I didn’t have a phone with data at the time and so, the best I could do was sit inside praying even a Ratata would come near my house. I gave up pretty quickly, but recently, given all the changes I’ve heard about, was convinced to get back into it and give it a more honest attempt.

I feel like I don’t need to explain the mechanics of Pokemon GO to anyone. We’re all pretty aware that you just walk around, encounter Pokemon and catch them, right? It was all over the news for a while. Popular TV personalities talked about it. No one would stop talking about it, making the me of 2016 all the more jealous but still too cheap to shell out for a plan that involved data.

To be honest, current me doesn’t have data either. But has, over the process of… A while, acquired most of the wifi passwords for various locations down the main street. And given my towns entire shopping district and main hub is contained in said street, this also tends to be where the majority of Pokemon are encountered. So it all works out. It’s a very small town.

And so, I set off, curious to see what I’d missed.

It turns out, Pokemon GO is currently up to the third generation of Pokemon and not too far off releasing the fourth. This was immediately good news to me, as this meant I could obtain Skitty. One of the most perfect Pokemon ever created. And as soon as I did, I was overjoyed and realized I had, indeed, been missing out. Kind of.

There are also several gyms in my town and I saw one was guarded by one Pokemon that was low on… Whatever points they have. I was past the tutorial at this point and couldn’t recall because it had been two years ago since I last checked. I figured, surely no one really plays this anymore, and thought the gym would be easy pickings. I took it, came back a couple of hours later only to find I had been defeated and a different colour took my place.

And because I could see two gyms from where I live, I spent a few days watching, intrigued, as the gym would keep switching colours and Pokemon, indicating who was in control and from which team at any given time. So, as it turns out, there are a few people that do still play. Granted, it was the same handful of names I’d see over and over, but it was nice to see the game isn’t forgotten.

And I suppose its accessibility is its biggest feature in that it’s not hard to forget. It’s still an enjoyable experience, although the simplicity that leads into accessibility is probably one of the big factors that made people stop just as fast. It’s repetitive, with the only real excitement coming from being able to visit different locations and the different Pokemon one could find there. I’m thrilled at the prospect of going to Melbourne, for example, because I don’t feel like I could swing my Skitty by its tail without hitting something interesting that I can’t find in my town. Which, as of now, has an upsetting amount of Pidgy and Ratata and not enough of anything interesting.

Though the addition of raids and event Pokemon are also a way to keep it interesting. I’ve encountered so many Pikachu in stylish but practical summer hats. I even have a Raichu with one now. Though I haven’t participated in any raids, even though I saw a Zapdos once, because from what I understand those are reliant on other players and the Red team doesn’t seem particularly popular in this town. Also, I’m not sure where I’d find these other cryptids that still play this game. Who are they? We may never truly know.

All in all, my Pokemon GO experience has been a fun one. It’s a great way to get my step count up, wanting to get that next Pokemon on the trail. I’ll probably keep playing for a little while longer, or at least, until all these places with wifi figure out my ingenious plan and change their passwords.

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