Best Apps: Pokémon Go

If you're like me, you can get bored on the usual walk and wish you could see something cool...like a flaming horse. Pokémon Go uses your phone to turn your surroundings into a field rife with imaginative creatures that you can capture and train. Whether you need to get some variety in your routine walk, or want to make walking a daily 10,000 steps a habit, Pokémon Go can get you on the right foot!

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Pokémon Go (Free)

What It Is

You may remember Pokémon (short for pocket monsters) as animated characters from a 90s kids show and a card game, but the Pokémonuniverse has grown into quite the hefty video game franchise with millions of fans across all ages. Pokémon Go is an interactive augmented reality app that encourages its users to find, capture, and battle with Pokémon. By using GPS tracking, your avatar moves with you as you use the app's map (which uses real-life locations and streets for navigation) to track and capture Pokémon. The Pokémon types are generated regionally, and more may show up in certain areas according to conditions like weather or holidays. 

 

Why We Love It

A big part of why I like Pokémon Go is the essential idea: Train your pet to have over-the-top powers. I can't have have many pets in real life, so having multiple digital pets is filling a gap, albeit with a fantastical edge. The range of Pokémon and their abilitities, the challenge of training (called evolving) them, and having my time and effort pay off by having the Pokémon version of a goldfish grow into a giant intimidating fish-dragon is rewarding. And with the augmented reality element of Pokémon Go, I can view Pokémon appearing in a regular environment, such as the sidewalk on my way to work.

Walk & Explore

This isn't the typical iPhone game that has you sitting in one place wasting time on your phone. You're going to have to walk around outside in order to progress in this game. The real life location of local culturally and historically significant sites have been designated as either Gyms or PokéStops in the game. So, you could play and learn about some local history at the same time! 

Gyms are places where you can battle other Pokémon and earn coins for in-game purchases. Both Gyms and PokéStops also offer the opportunity to get different items that can be used in the game, such as more Pokéballs to use to capture Pokémon. And although you can encounter Pokémon anywhere outside, they are most likely to be found near Gyms and Pokéstops.

Pokémon are also more easily found in areas or at times of day that match their type. For example, expect to find grass-type Pokémon in a public park or a ghost-type Pokémon starting just at sunset. Players can also increase the number of Pokemon they encounter by placing a Lure at a PokéStop.

Interact With Pokémon (& People)

Pokémon Go has a Friends List feature, where you can earn experience points in the game by leveling up your friendships by interacting with your in-game friends. Ways to interact with other players include sending them gifts that you collect by spinning Pokestops, trading Pokémon, challenging them to PVP battles, or teaming up with other players to battle extra-strong Pokémon called Raid bosses in special Gym battles. Another option is to join other users in raids, which is when multiple users team up to battle and capture one large and powerful Pokémon.

You can interact with other users as much or as little as you want. For myself, I just like walking around and seeing how many different Pokémon I can capture. And it's not always certain I'll be able to capture a Pokémon, or even find the type that I want. Pokémon Go strives to provide a balance between difficulty and enjoyment.

Pokémon Go continues to add features to both the social aspect and gameplay to make playing with Pokémon fun for even the most casual user (and walker).  

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Hallei Halter's picture

Hallei is a 2018 graduate of Maharishi University of Management with a BFA in Creative & Professional Writing. She's currently working on a novel about people using witchcraft to clean their houses.