As someone born in the late 80s and raised in the 90s, I consider myself the epitome of who Pokémon was targeted to back in the late 90s. I was in fourth grade turning 10 years old and Pokémon was taking over the planet. Ever since then, I have been a major fan of the franchise from the cards to the anime to the main series games. Despite the main series titles being simple JRPGs, they are still very well done and have a lot going for them. Long story short, I LOVE Pokémon.
When Pokémon Go was announced last year, it seemed like a dream come true. I could actually become a Pokémon trainer without having to play the games in a fantasy world. I could go in my very own neighbourhood and search for Pokémon, battle real-life trainers, and truly become the very best like no one ever was. I knew 10 year-old me would be beyond excited; this was truly the ultimate for Pokémon fans.
Of course Canada had to have a delayed release, so I sat in agony watching my American friends find Pokémon in their offices, backyards, or various locations across the US. It looked so awesome. Soon, I told myself. Soon. I saw videos of unbelievable swarms of people searching for Pokémon in Central Park all coming together for the amazing passion that is Pokémon. Soon, I told myself. Soon.
Finally, Pokémon Go was released in Canada and I immediately downloaded it. I chose Bulbasaur as my starter as I am partial to Grass-types and because Bulbasaur was my first Pokémon ever back in ’98 playing Blue. As I started to look around for Pokemon in my apartment, I noticed that when they would emerge on the screen I could not use my newly acquired Bulbasaur to fight the wild Pokémon…I could only hope that throwing a Poké Ball would be good enough. Sure enough, it was and I slowly started to capture a few Pokémon. While it seemed kind of fun at first, I realized that this was NOTHING like Pokémon at all. Throwing Poké Balls at Pokémon without weakening them through battle? What was this sorcery? That’s just not how it works! Ash first learned this in Episode 3 when Misty scolds him for just tossing Poké Balls at a wild Caterpie. Did the creators of this game not see that episode? Had the creators even played a Pokémon game period? No battling other trainers, no trading Pokémon, no battling wild Pokémon and a gym system that is oh so wrong. How was this so popular? This was essentially the ‘collecting stamps’ version of Pokémon. Pokémon is a series that involves capturing monsters and training them through battle to eventually defeat the various gym leaders across the various regions and enter the Pokémon League for each region. The only element in Pokémon Go that is true to the series is the fact that you have to hunt and capture Pokémon as a trainer; however, that element is ruined by simply flicking Poké Balls at them without battling them with your current Pokémon. I have since deleted the ‘app’ on my phone and do not plan to re-download it.
So why do I hate it so much? I mean, it’s a silly app, who cares? I care because it has become almost more popular than the series of amazing games that it is based off of with the majority of players in their 20s. It is nothing like the ‘real’ games and I do not even consider it a game. It’s a glorified GPS with a Pokémon skin. I realize that it is more accessible due to the fact that it is for iOS and Android (who doesn’t own a smart phone?) AND it is free, but that doesn’t mean that it’s very good. It’s just overall a terrible app with a boring experience for the player. Pokémon is EVERYWHERE in 2016 and it’s driving me crazy because I know that majority of the people using this app don’t even care about Pokémon at all. It’s not a true representation of the series whatsoever. Nintendo did not even develop it, Niantic Labs did (the same guys who made Ingress). Imagine if you will, something you like, be it a game, a series, a franchise, a TV show, etc. Now imagine a dumb downed app that supposedly represented that series and the whole world jumped on board. Before this app, the thing you liked was kind of niche, but it had a good fandom and all was well. Now the whole world is ‘into’ your fandom, but the worst part is, they are only into it because of a dumb downed app for casuals. They don’t play the real game, watch the real show, have seen any of the main movies etc etc. It’s like someone telling you they love Italian food and then saying their favourite restaurant is Olive Garden or Sbarro. I think I have made my point, which has now led me to believe that I am a Pokémon hipster. “I like the Pokémon you’ve never heard of.”
Sometimes I refer to it as being a Pokémon purist, I truly do like the video games, the trading card game, and the anime series. It’s a wonderful series that has something for everyone and it has been invaded by the virus that is Pokémon Go. The other night, I saw a bunch of adults running through a park downtown because a Dragonair had spawned somewhere nearby. I literally stood there in disbelief as I watched adults literally run to find the Dragonair. What happens when they get this Dragonair? Maybe someday they can get enough Dragonairs to evolve it into a Dragonite (don’t even get me started about evolution in Pokémon Go)? Then what? Who cares? You can’t even really battle with it or do anything. It’s honestly such a waste of time.
I realize Pokémon Go has allowed people to meet other people they would have never met, have fun outings with friends, and even potentially pull a few people into getting into the series, but other than that, it’s a waste of time to me. Go watch a movie, read a book, go for a bike ride, play a real video game. I have always found that (for the most part) the masses are attracted to really sub-average stuff, be it movies, music, and phone games. Why are Candy Crush, Clash of Clans, and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood so popular? Is it because they are great games? No. It’s honestly because people just like quick and easy ways to kill time without committing to something great. It’s the same reason why 6-second Vines are popular. Instant gratification. Human beings are pretty lame sometimes.
Pokémon Go is popular now, but I can’t wait until they release Pokémon from Generation II and up and people will see the outline of nearby Pokémon and have no idea what they are even looking at. It will be an amazing sequence of ‘Who’s That Pokémon!?” No one will know or care. A Gardevoir will be nearby and people won’t even blink. The only good thing that came from Pokémon Go is that it made Nintendo’s stock go up and more money for Nintendo is an awesome thing. I’ll at least acknowledge that.
Pokémon Go please go away, you are not a real game anyway. Bring on the trolls I suppose…
Image Credit: http://sixprizes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ash-ketchum-ugg.jpg