Pokémon is a household name, having taken the world of children’s entertainment by a storm since it appeared in 1995. Initially, Pokémon was a wildly successful Japanese cartoon built around the adventures of Ash Ketchum in his efforts to catch every variety of Pokémon – a community of weird and wonderful creatures with their own special powers. Nowadays, Pokémon has developed into a worldwide franchise, with incredibly popular video games and mobile games that appeal to young children and adults alike.
Pokémon Go is the latest offering from The Pokémon Company. Developed by Niantic, it’s an augmented reality title that mixes real world exploration with the role playing element that made the Nintendo Gameboy Pokémon titles so hugely successful. It’s spreading like wildfire, capturing the imaginations of Pokémon catchers of all ages, and is currently available for all iOS and Android devices.
Pokémon Go players use their phones to seek out Pokémon, who have been planted by Niantic’s algorithm all across a map that is based on your actual environment. You have to move in your area to catch Pokémons and get to PokéStops to collect items. After you catched them, you can then build up your Pokémons at special Gyms and fight those captured by other players. As they win more battles, players level up by collecting XP, so there’s a competitive element as well.
It’s unlike anything else that has ever been released. There are some similarities to Ingress (also by Niantic) and Real Strike, which sees players virtually shooting their opponents in public. But the role playing side of Pokémon Go is unique.
Exploring the World with Pokémon Go
What Do You Need to Play Pokémon Go?
You don’t need any special technology to play Pokémon Go. All you need is an Android phone (versions 4.4 to 6.0.1) or an iPhone 5/iPhone5S or better, with iOS 8 or higher. However, you do need a wi-fi package on your phone and GPS location services.
Finding Pokémon is what Pokémon Go is all about. For many people, it’s the most enjoyable part of the game, and they can spend hours collecting the virtual creatures.
Pokémon can be encountered almost anywhere. Millions of them are scattered across the map (known as “wild” Pokémon), and are generally very easy to catch. In a nice touch, they tend to be more common in parks or other natural areas – exactly where you’d expect them to be hanging out! So it helps going to different areas to find different types of Pokémon. Go to a lake to find Water-types like Magikarp or Staryu and even the climate in your region affects the types of Pokémon spawning.
To see where your local Pokémon are, go to the map screen. Tap the button in the bottom right hand corner and it will show you where any nearby Pokémon are, as well as a rough distance between you and them. You can also usually find Pokémon by heading towards the tufts of grass distributed all over the map.
If there aren’t any near you, other options are available. One way it to use the two Incense Modules that you are given at the start of the game. These attract Pokémon to your location for half an hour after using them. Alternatively, you can buy what are known as Lure Modules, which have the same effect, but only work at PokéStops (see below).
How Do You Catch Pokémon?
When you’ve found a Pokémon, it’s time to catch them. Catching is carried out via PokéBalls, which you need to throw directly at the Pokémon.
When you meet a Pokémon, you’ll move into battle mode. A ring appears around the Pokémon, and this varies in size and colour. If it’s green, the Pokémon should be easy to catch. Yellow is harder, while red Pokémon are the hardest of all.
Try to get the target right in the centre of your smartphone screen and throw them straight down the middle. The ring will pulsate as well, so try to throw your PokéBalls when it is at its largest.
After you’ve caught a Pokémon, you can give them a name that you think suits them. To do so, just go to the Pokéball icon on the in-game screen and select the Pokémon that you’d like to rename. You can do this as many times as you like.
What Are the Different Types of Pokémon?
There are 151 different types of Pokémon to collect, the same amount as in the Red and Blue Gameboy games. You can find a list of them on the Pokémon website. However, not all of them are common. In fact, some of them are incredibly rare, such as Zapdos or Mewtwo.
Pokémon are also divided into a range of categories, including water, ice, fire, flying, ghost and night-time varieties. This means that if you head towards a lake or river you are more likely to encounter water Pokémon like Wartortle or Blastoise. If you head out at night, you may well have a chance to catch nocturnal Pokémon like Clefairy or Golbat. This adds an element of variety to the game, making it more interesting over the long term.
How Do You Train Pokémon?
When you first capture Pokémon, they will probably be relatively weak, but this can be changed by training them to become battling machines.
The best way to improve your Pokémon’s combat performance is by collecting items that improve their level, such as Stardust and Candy.
Alternatively, you can evolve your Pokémon to have a higher combat power (CP) rating. This requires you to collect Candy, which can be done by capturing three or more duplicate Pokémon. You receive 4 Candy for each duplicate Pokémon, and this can be transferred to a single Pokémon to help them level up.
Another way to train your Pokémon is by training them at a friendly gym.
Are There any Items That Can Help You Build Your Pokémon Collection?
Pokémon Go includes plenty of items that can make playing the game easier. As mentioned above, you can use Incense Modules to attract Pokémon to your location. If you are near a PokéStop, you can buy Lure Modules as well (which will benefit any other players in the vicinity as well).
You can also buy Pokémon Eggs at any PokéStop. As in earlier games, you can hatch a wide range of Pokémon from these eggs. However, Pokémon Go has added an extra step by requiring you to use Egg Incubators to get them to hatch. These can be bought with PokéCoins, but you also receive some when you level up, making it useful to accumulate as many XP points as possible.
What About my Online Avatar?
Every Pokémon Go player is automatically enrolled as a Pokémon Trainer, with the classic baseball cap and shorts look familiar from the show and video games. Pokémon Go allows you to fully customize your trainer, with options for male and female players. You can change your hair, backpack, face, clothing colour and eye colour, giving you the chance to create a unique look. You can even change your name. Remember, when you visit a PokéGym or PokéStop, everyone can see your avatar.
How Do You Use PokéGyms?
Gyms are one of the most important parts of the Pokémon Go universe. They are only accessible to Level 5 players, meaning that you’ll need to capture a few Pokémon before paying a visit.
Gyms are larger markers on the Pokémon Go map, and are usually located at significant local landmarks (so large numbers of players can converge on them easily).
Each Gym is controlled by a particular team. When you reach Level 5, you get to choose which team you join, and this cannot be changed later on. There are three teams (Yellow, Red and Blue), and there isn’t much difference between them. However, you may want to pick the same team as your friends (or different ones if you plan to battle against them),
Teams compete to control the gyms, trying to maintain their Prestige. When you visit a gym controlled by a rival team, you can engage their Pokémon in battle, reducing their Prestige. When it hits zero, your team can take over.
How to Fight A Pokémon Gym Battle
When you start a Gym battle, you need to choose 6 powerful Pokémon to take on those trained by your opponent. Then press the button in the lower right corner of the screen to start fighting.
Press the screen straight away to launch an attack. You’ll see meters related to special moves as well. When these meters are full, you can launch the corresponding move by holding your finger on the screen. You can also dodge away from your opponent’s attacks by swiping left or right.
To be successful in Gym fights, you really need to know how to match different types of Pokémon against each other. That way, your attacks will be much more damaging.
You can also fight against players from your own team at PokéGyms. This is a good way to train your Pokémon up to higher levels and gain experience.
What Happens When You Win a Pokémon Battle?
When you win a Gym battle, you don’t automatically claim the Pokémon for yourself. Similarly, your Pokémon isn’t captured if you lose. It simply goes back to the owner with 1 HP left, and you can use a potion to nurse them back to full strength. The prize for winning battles comes in the form of Prestige Points, which help to capture Gyms for your team.
PokéStops, Items, Lures and More
How Do You Use PokéStops?
To find rarer, higher value Pokémons, you’ll need to visit what are known as PokéStops. These are randomly distributed around local areas, and could be anywhere from libraries to coffee shops.
The great thing about PokéStops is that they attract Pokémon from all over the area. If you spend enough time at one, you’ll be sure to run into Pokémon that you haven’t encountered on your wanderings around town.
To improve your chances of meeting a Pokémon you’d like to battle, you can also purchase Lure Modules from the store. When you deploy these, you’ll have 30 minutes of easy pickings, as Pokémon flock to your neighbourhood.
What is the Pokédex and How Do You Use it?
The Pokémon Go world is complex, which is why the game designers provide players with the Pokédex. This contains a record of all the Pokémon you have seen and battled, as well as those in your current collection.
You can also use the Pokédex to research the different types of Pokémon and the forms they evolve into, helping to plot your way to a winning team. To find it, just head to the main menu and click on the Pokédex button.
How Do You Use Stardust and Candies?
Sometimes, any Pokémon could do with a boost, just like humans. Thankfully, you can rejuvenate tired or weakened Pokémon by using Stardust and Candy. You can collect both of these items when you hatch an egg or catch Pokémon.
Importantly, Candy can only be used with specific Pokémon. For example, Bulbasaur Candy only works with Bulbasaur type Pokémon. So, it will work with a Venusaur, but not a Furret. Stardust, on the other hand, can be used with any Pokémon.
Using Stardust and Candy is simple. Just go to the Main Menu, press the Pokémon button, select a Pokémon and touch the Power Up button. The Power Up will only be applied if you have enough Stardust or Candy for that particular Pokémon.
What About the Pokémon Go Plus?
The creators of Pokémon Go have also included a special device that enhances the experience of playing Pokémon Go – the Pokémon Go Plus. This has been designed to be worn as you move around the environment, and links up to your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection. When a Pokémon is nearby, it vibrates to alert you to the fact and also lets you know when you are close to a PokéStop.
How Do You Buy Items in Pokémon Go?
All of the in-game items used by Pokémon Go players can be purchased via PokéCoins. These can be purchased from the Pokémon Shop, which you can access via the Main Menu. After you’ve bought a pack of PokéCoins, you can go back to the shop to buy whatever Lures or Candy you require.
If you are a budding Ash Ketchum or you just want to try out Pokémon Go, there are plenty of ways to save money on a Pokémon Go Plus, PokéCoins, eggs and other items. The Pokémon Store regularly runs sales of in-game items, and when you bookmark the Pokémon Go HotUKDeals pages, you won’t miss a thing.