Pokemon GO! Review

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Pokemon GO is a free to play game that you can download right now for IOS or Android mobile devices. The game does feature augmented reality via the camera with Pokemon appearing around you. The game is published and developed by Niantic and functions similarly to their previous game Ingress. In short, Pokemon Go is just a reskin of Ingress for the Pokemon World.

This game has both good and bad aspects about it. Initially I let my emotions cloud my judgment of how good this game is as I have always been a fan of Pokemon games. Having played this game to almost level 25 now I have to say this game is a complete mess. That is completely ignoring the fact that the game has constantly crashed and gone down for long periods of time every day since it was released. If I just focus on what the game offers, I can say nothing other than I am disappointed. The game does not stay true to any Pokemon game at all, and in fact breaks many of the core mechanics of Pokemon games.

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  • Pokemon Progression. In this game you have to catch the same Pokemon over and over to get candy for that Pokemon. That candy is sort of like Rare Candy that only works on a specific type of Pokemon. This candy can increase a Pokemon’s Combat Power, or it can evolve a Pokemon, if you have enough. Some of the rare Pokemon have to be caught 100 times just to evolve them. All that time and energy can go to  waste too if the Pokemon gets a poor moveset when you evolve them rendering that Pokemon essentially useless as it wont benefit from STAB which boosts the damage of moves that matches a Pokemon’s type.

 

  • Pokemon Spawns. In this game 95% of your time will be wasted capturing Weedle, Pidgey, and Rattata. Some locations you may also have lots of Eevee’s. These are essentially the most common Pokemon you will find and as such Eevee’s evolutions are the most common Pokemon you fill find in gym’s, namely Vaporeon which is stronger than the other two. In fact a maxed CP Jolteon will get completely steam rolled by a Vaporeon despite the fact that Jolteon should win just from type advantage alone. We need more variety, and Pokemon levels need to stay consistently higher as we get stronger.

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  • Poor Experience & Candy Gain. Experience gain is attrocious. All Pokemon give the same experience when caught. Nice, Great, and Excellent throws always give the same experience. Evolving Pokemon always give the same experience. All Pokemon caught give only 3 candy. All Pokemon transfered to Professor Willow give only 1 candy. The most common Pokemon all require 12 candy to evolve, the next rarest cost 25 candy, the next rarest cost 50. The extremely rare ones cost 100-400 candy. With Pokemon like these only showing up once or twice a day, and you not even being around when they show up, you are going to be waiting an extremely long time just to evolve some Pokemon. It takes too long to evolve certain Pokemon due to poor spawns and lack of candy gained for transfering or catching Pokemon that are already strong. Strong Pokemon should give more candy, and more experience when caught, simple as that.

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  • Weak Pokemon Get Harder to Catch! As you get to higher levels, easy and weak Pokemon get harder and harder to catch. Remember that CP 10 Pidgey that you caught no problem with only a single pokeball. Now that same Pidgey jumps and pecks your thrown pokeballs several times in a row to get you to waste pokeballs. Then when you finally get it in the pokeball it breaks out taking 2-3 pokeballs to catch when it should be guaranteed that you catch it. Pokemon that should be instantly caught and guaranteed are Pokemon that show a green circle. A CP 10 Pidgey and a CP 250 Pidgey should be equally as easy to catch if your trainers level is higher and the circle presented to you is green. Green means easy and should be guaranteed as it was when you were lower level catching low CP Pokemon. When I see a 700 + CP Pidgeot with an orange circle that is an entirely different story and I understand wasting a good amount of Pokeballs on them. That orange circle means that the Pokemon is of very high level compared to my trainers level, and as such it is harder to catch. As Pokemon got weaker and weaker in the games they eventually became a guaranteed catch. I understand needing to use Razz Berry’s and Great / Ultra balls to catch Pokemon that show red circles when I attempt to throw a Pokeball. That is only because that means the Pokemon is very strong compared to my trainers level. If the circle is green though I should not be wasting a lot of Pokeballs just to catch it.

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  • Transfering / Evolving Large Quantities of Pokemon. One of the only good ways to get good experience gain in the game at this moment is to mass evolve a lot of cheap cost Pokemon. Mostly Pidgey and Weedle as they only cost 12 candy to evolve. The goal is to catch and save up a lot of these Pokemon. Transfer a few to save up some candy on the side, and then use a lucky egg only when you are able to evolve every single Pidgey or Weedle you have. It’s a long term pay off that pays huge, provided the servers stay up. even after putting in all this time and effort to amass such a large amount of Pokemon to evolve you still got to evolve them. With a Pokemon bag of 300 you are not going to evolve them all within that 30 minute time frame. This makes leveling up quickly essentially a pay to win mechanic. Niantic intentionally made you unable to skip the evolution cutscene in order to make you waste time on your eggs and slow your progression down. Even in the games you could skip this animation, I should be able to skip it in Pokemon Go as well. At the very least let me select a large amount of Pokemon to transfer or evolve at once, then set a timer of some sort that we have to wait through before the action is complete (A reasonable time. A few minutes at the very most).

 

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  • Few Strong Pokemon! Most of the Pokemon in this game are weak. Simple as that. as much as I would love for say thunder Pokemon to actually demolish water Pokemon or for many Pokemon to actually be able to obtain high CP, or for Pokemon to have decent damage on their moves, it seems Niantic wants the power to be in a select few Pokemon. Dragonite being one of the strongest Pokemon in the entire game and Vaporeon being one of the biggest trolls in Pokemon GO, able to completely demolish Pokemon of all typing including thunder. At the very least adjust values of Pokemons basic attacks to do far more damage to Pokemon they have a type advantage over. Right now Super Effective attacks only do 25% more damage, and Non-Effective attacks do as much as 80% of their original damage, meaning only 1-3 damage less on basic attacks, and only 1-3 more damage on Super-Effective attacks. When I am using a bug Pokemon with a basic attack of 3 damage how is that even going to compare to Vaporeon’s water gun with 10 damage that basically hits twice per second. How is a Jolteon with a basic attack of 5 or 6 damage going to compete with Vaporeon when Vaporeon still attacks faster. I get it thunder Pokemon are supposed to be fast, but there is no point in a fast attacking low damage thunder type Pokemon if it can still be beaten by water Pokemon, the element thunder is supposed to completely destroy.

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Conclusion

I really enjoyed my week with Pokemon Go, despite all the issues it is having. My main problems and concerns with this game is how it completely ignores key mechanics of the Pokemon franchise. It lacks real Pokemon battles, it lacks trading, it lacks proper progression, it lacks fair competitive Gym battles, and as such it also lacks content. Currently the goal is to catch strong Pokemon to take gyms. The problem is that you don’t need strong Pokemon you just need a bunch of people to attack at once and win an unfair fight. With Gym battles being heavily balanced towards attackers, the game literally has no point. I don’t feel like congratulating people for taking ownership of a gym, because I know they did not do it alone. If I could have defenders in my Gym all attacking the attackers at the same time, it would be a little more fair. I understand that the point of the game is to bring people together, but the game has to be fun and fair. This game currently is no longer fun, and is not fair. I have much more complaints with this game but I am simply going to leave it here.

CCR Rating

4of10

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