How to catch 'em all: The beginner's guide to Pokemon Go


You can't go online without hearing someone talking about it. It's even invading our airwaves.

So what exactly is Pokemon Go?

First, some background info for those of you completely alien to the world of Pokemon.

Pokemon is a Japanese game where the world is filled with monsters you catch, train and battle. The monsters can be caught and kept in your pocket. Pocket monsters, Pokemon, it all makes sense now.

How Pokemon originally looked in 1996

The games have been huge successes since they first appeared on Nintendo's Game Boy in 1996. 20 years later, and after becoming a huge pop culture phenomenon right up there with The Simpsons, the franchise has finally appeared on your phone after being stuck on Nintendo's handheld consoles all this time.

What's the game about?

If you are anyway familiar with the original games, you'll already have an idea how this one works. You begin as a Pokemon trainer all ready and waiting to get into the world and catching them all. You chose one of three starter Pokemon, and build from there.

You can catch more Pokemon as you go, anything from birds and bugs to ghosts and rats. When you battle them against other Pokemon, they become more powerful, and some will eventually evolve into different Pokemon.

Dotted around the world are gyms where you can fight the gym leaders to gain badges, experience, and grow your levels to continue on the way to becoming a Pokemon Master. It's a classic game formula really, but it sucks you in and keeps you involved like few other games out there. Making you care about virtual monsters can be a tricky thing, but Pokemon have made a multi-billion dollar business on it.

How does Pokemon Go work?

Pokemon Go is a modern way of playing the classic Pokemon game. While what I said above is the basis for every Pokemon game, each of them features different mechanics and features. Pokemon Go is the most radical and innovative change in the Pokemon game series ever, and it's got more people excited than ever.

With Pokemon Go, the game takes place in your world rather than a virtual one. The app, available on iPhone and Android, uses mapping technology to place Pokemon in the world around you. Where you used to have to wander for ages in the game to find Pokemon, now you'll have to walk in the real world to real locations to find a Pidgey. You'll see your character standing in the middle of a familiar looking map. It's the area you're in, and as you move, your character will too.

The game features PokeStops, areas where you can collect Pokeballs and other items. You'll see them as big blue markers in the game. The stops are at real world landmarks and monuments, so when you open the stop and spin the dial to get the items, you'll see that it's a notable location. Sometimes they're more famous than others, and sometimes they can be a little creepy, but when you're deep in the game and need some Pokeballs, you'll go wherever they are.

The real attraction of the game of course is catching Pokemon. They'll randomly pop up as you go, little characters on the street ready for you to catch.

That's where the main draw of the game comes in. As you click on the Pokemon to try catch it, the app turns on your smartphone's camera and suddenly you see the Pokemon in the real world, the dream of Pokemon fans for decades. Throw your Pokeball at it and you'll see the Pokemon be captured right in front of you.

Each Pokemon has different abilities and attacks, and can be powered up during the game. The best way to power up your Pokemon is to catch loads of the same one. Every Pokemon can only be powered up by a particular type of candy for each Pokemon. You can only get more of that candy with each type of Pokemon you catch so get as many as you can and keep powering up one to make it the best it can be.

You can also get Pokemon eggs in the game that you can hatch after being put into an incubator. To hatch it, you have to walk a certain distance, anywhere from 2 to 10 kilometers. The only downside is the app has to be open all that time, so bye bye battery life.

Pokemon gyms
The storyline of the game is the same as before; you want to be the very best like no one ever was. To get there, you need to battle in the gyms. You'll see these scattered around like the PokeStops, but much bigger markers. You can only start fighting in the gyms when you reach level 5 in the game which you can get to pretty quickly.When you want to start fighting, you'll be asked first to join a team from a choice of Valor, Instinct, or Mystic. This is when the social aspect of the game comes in, as you'll join the millions of other players around the world in the team you choose. You can now play to take control of gyms for your team by fighting whoever currently runs the gym.

To actually fight in the game, just keep tapping the screen against your opponent's Pokemon. They'll be hitting you with volleys too, so just tapping and hope you get in as many effective hits as you can.

Getting better
Like the old Pokemon games, as you advance through the world, the better you'll become at the game. Your own trainer levels will rise, as will the strength of your Pokemon, and more and more features of the game will become available to you.

Instead, with this being a smartphone app of course, you could just buy your way there with in-app purchases. You can get Pokeballs, coins, and other items all for real money, with some transactions being able to cost you €100. Don't go down that route, because it's too easy to get addicted to. I know, I played Simpsons Tapped Out for a long time with the same results.

There’s also going to be a bracelet accessory available that works with it called the Pokemon Go Plus that’ll vibrate and alert you when Pokemon are nearby in the game.

After playing it for a day, it’s easy to figure out why Pokemon Go is becoming a huge success. It’s hitting older players right in the nostalgia side of their lives, and their enthusiasm in turn is making new players excited. And as well as that, who wouldn’t love to see a Pikachu in the real world.

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