Pokemon Go appeared to be what we have all been dreaming of for years, a real time traveling, battling, capturing Pokemon adventure. The press statements before the game officially released in the United States were vague, very misleading, and gave a false impression to how much freedom I was going to have within it.
First Impressions: I’m Gonna Catch ‘Em All!
I was so excited! I wanted to get my old Pokedex, Poke shoes, bag, hat, shirt, and plushies, (yes, I own all of that) and head out with a full nerd on and catch ’em all! We decided to head to the park and it was packed with people. There was hardly a parking space open in a park that is normally almost empty. The grass was covered with people walking and laying down, the paths were filled, the sidewalk was crowded, it was a movement! I remember even catching a Pidgey or Rattatta was so fun and the first time I could evolve one was amazing. There happen to be a lot of Squirtle at our park so I had dreams of a Blastoise right away and worked tirelessly to be able to evolve one. Slowly the truth was revealed to me, one sad step at a time, that this game I was so excited for was going to be one let down after another.
First fail: Don’t Expect Niantic to Communicate With You At All
Niantic didn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog, email, website, or ANYTHING to release statements. As the servers crashed by the minute and I could hardly play even at night it was so bad, I never heard a peep from Niantic. They should have had this years ago to manage press releases the entire time through production and then customer reactions after release. There were tons of problems with the app from the moment it released and due to a lack of communication it did not even seem to matter to Niantic, they could have at least had a Twitter and said “Sorry for the glitches, we are working on it!” but they did not even care enough to do that. Once I did hear that they were working to fix it was about the time I was ready to throw my phone at a tree and I couldn’t believe it took them that long to get back to the players. I have been devoted to Pokemon since I was seven, where is their devotion to their fans? It felt like a slap in the face at that point to have to receive a service from a company that did not even seem to care that they were doing a horrible job.
Second fail: No Player Vs. Player Feature
I originally thought that you would be able to battle other players outside of the gyms just for practice, like Ash and other characters do in the show. You can have your Pokemon battle anywhere in the show just to gain experience, you can even have your Pokemon battle each other, and I thought that this system would somehow be worked into the game but instead it was simply left out completely. The gym system I thought sounded kind of cool at first, if you had to hang out by it and defend it until someone beat you or you left, it would also have increased interaction among the players and made the game a lot more fun. I could have accepted this even if I could only battle at the gym because it would still at least be some way to battle other players. However, since the gym system is only run by the computer there is no way at all for players to battle each other.
Third fail: The Gym Feature Makes No Sense
In the old show Pikachu was awesome and so were other Pokemon because their trainers spent a lot of time working to get them stronger. I thought that it I would be able to catch Pokemon that with some work and effort (walking a certain distance, battling gyms, battling other players, it could have been almost anything) they would all have the potential to be the best, or at least most of them would. I loved Meowth and thought that with some work and possible an evolution I would be able to make him my gym battling Pokemon. However, there are only a few Pokemon that are strong enough to be worth getting if you want to battle gyms and there is absolutely no point in getting the rest of the Pokemon unless you want to create a trophy collection. When the game started, Vaporeon could defeat any Pokemon in the game. Literally the only Pokemon worth having was Vaporeon, and Vaporeon was one of the easiest Pokemon to get.
Forth fail: The Leveling System Is Pointless
It was really fun in the beginning to level up and to run into people who were level 10, 15, or even 20! We would ask them for tips and it was a huge incentive to play longer and harder to get there. I just assumed that not only would you keep getting free stuff when you leveled up but that you would get stronger Pokemon or more rare ones. I mean, a level 2 isn’t ever going to get a Miu are they? Then I actually got to level 20, and 21, and 22, and I realized that the higher level you were the odds were stacked against you. The easy Pokemon, like Pidgey, got harder to catch as you leveled up…in what world does that make sense? Not only that, there was no incentive to level up because your chances of getting rare Pokemon do not increase. If you want to be able to beat all of the gyms with the highest level Pokemon possible then yes, level up because they will get slightly stronger, however I did not want to play the game solely for that purpose. I had spent hours leveling up and there should have been more than just one benefit, especially with how long it take to get any higher than level 20.
Fifth fail: The Egg System is Designed to Empty Your Wallet
The last straw for this game for me was the egg system. I had almost quit playing but I would still run the app while going on a walk or run (not a bike ride however because 7 MPH is way too fast and would make the app think I was in a car, because that made sense) to hatch eggs for the heck of it and maybe I would get a Dragonite or Snorlax, there is nothing else worth getting because these 2 Pokemon will even dominate all others regardless of type. You have less than 15% chance to get a Pokemon worth leveling from a 10km egg. (Lapras, Dratini, or Snorlax) These 10k eggs that can give you the strongest Pokemon only have a 7% drop rate from Pokestops, so you will be hatching 10-15 useless 2 or 5 km eggs before you have a small 15% chance of getting a powerful Pokemon. This is because you can only hold 10 eggs at a time and they can not be discarded, only hatched. Having a higher level does not increase your chances, and you can easily hatch more than 100 eggs before getting even one gym worthy Pokemon. On the other hand if you are lucky enough to live in an area populated with Dratini, you can easily get 5 unbeatable Dragonite and destroy any gym in the game blindfolded. Not to mention that of all the eggs I have hatched almost none have been Pokemon I would want to have even for a trophy collection. The only way the increase your odds? Buy the egg incubators from the store inside of the game.
Final Impressions: Pokemon…
So how long did I play for? I spent about 2 weeks playing at every second I could, another week slowly getting more and more disenfranchised and disappointed, and finally a week stopping and hatching eggs only sometimes only to be disappointed, and now I have almost completely given it up. This game had so much potential and could have been a great social experience to get players to interact, a serious gaming experience for those who want to work hard at it, a way to get people out of their houses and moving around, and a fun way to pass the time for anyone who is just after a few minutes of fun. Instead, it seems that Niantic is simply after a game that is just barely good enough to get people to play it for a while, spend some quick cash, and then get bored of it and stop playing.
This game without a doubt has many more problems than I mentioned here, comment below with your experiences with Pokemon Fails or any other issues with it that I left out!