When I saw there was a new Pokémon game out, I had high expectations. I loved Pokémon growing up, and still greatly enjoy playing it in my free time. I’ve gone through most of the iterations—Yellow and Crystal on my Game Boy Color, Sapphire, Emerald, and Leaf Green on my Game Boy Advance/SP. Pokémon Pinball. Pokémon Colosseum on my GameCube (yes, I am still bitter I sold my GameCube at a garage sale when I was 13. Let’s not talk about what a grave mistake that was.)
I even gave Pokémon Dungeon a shot when it came out on DS. And I’m still working my way through Pokémon Black 2 on 3DS. When you add it all up, I’ve likely spent at least a full month’s worth of time, if not more, dedicated to these games.
So obviously I downloaded Pokémon Go within a day or two of finding out about it (not immediately, some of us don’t have the luxury of infinite time off. Thanks adulthood). And unpopular opinion: I hate it. It is one of the least fulfilling Pokémon games I’ve ever played (besides Dungeon. That game sucked.)
Half the appeal of the original Pokémon games was exploring all the virtual towns and cities built into the game. The graphics are cool, especially in some of the newer ones. The towns are all uniquely themed and have hidden objects and trades among them. The graphics of Pokémon Go are underwhelming to say the least. It looks like someone took Google Maps and made the whole thing blue then sent us on our way. I get that it’s “virtual reality,” but if I’m exploring places around me in real life to find Pokémon, I want to be looking at all the cool sites around the town I’m seeing. Not staring at my phone while I waste an absurd amount of data.
When you get down to what you’re able to do in the game, it’s not a whole lot. You can flick your finger to catch a Pokémon in the wild. You can click a button and use items to level them up. Allegedly you can join a team and have battles in gyms and against other trainers, but I couldn’t stick it out long enough to get to that point. Where’s all the hard work and effort that goes into painstakingly training a Pokémon? Choosing its moves? Gradually finding the rare Pokémon as you progress through the game, rather than by luck of living near some churches or statues?
Also, be honest: when you were a little kid, if you played Pokémon, you definitely wished they were real so you could catch them. But not by swiping a finger and throwing a pokeball at one that looks like it’s sitting in your backyard, which is like virtually catching it the same basic way you catch them in the other games. You wanted to literally catch them and have them follow you around like they do in the shows. And to physically hold or pet the cute ones. And have epic battles against your friends.
Obviously that’s never going to be a thing—that reality check came around age seven. But that was the real ’90s-kid dream for me. So to pretend that the Pokémon Go iteration gets you any closer to feeling like you’re catching your own Pokémon in a way that’s different from the other games is absurd. It’s literally the same thing, just way slower and with worse graphics, real-life backgrounds and forced exercise along the way. And I’m not about that.
I do think it’s great that kids are getting out there and moving—that’s an excellent thing that’s come out of this game. It’s brought kids out of their shells, created new communities and brought people together. And that’s pretty cool.
Maybe Pokémon Go isn’t meant for me, or the other ’90s kids that made Pokémon popular in the first place. And maybe that’s okay. But either way, I won’t be partaking in the craze. I’ll be sitting here, on my couch, Game Boy in hand, playing the games that are actually worth wasting your time on.
Top image credit: pokemon.com
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