Catch ’em all with your mobile device and Pokemon GO.

I spent two hours last night running around a dark park, looking for Pokémon.

Yes, the much-anticipated Pokemon GO launched in the U.S. last evening, and you should download the app, if you haven’t already (I mean, it’s free so what do you have to lose?). I caught 30 Pokémon before calling it a night, and I’m more attached to my phone now than I was when I first started playing Neko Atsume.

Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW

So, here’s a quick breakdown of the beginning of the game. You download the app and have to attempt to log in a few times because “Our servers are experiencing issues.” Don’t give up. When you get in, you meet Professor Willow, who explains the basic premise of the game for those who are not familiar with the Pokémon franchise. You customize your avatar and are dropped onto a map, where a pinkish/purpleish circle pulsating around you indicates the area in which you can sense Pokémon near you. The starters appear in this circle, and Professor Willow gives you a few Pokéballs so you can catch your first.

Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW

Like in the classic games, you can choose only one. I went with Charmander, of course. To catch a Pokémon, you click on it when it appears on your screen (your phone also vibrates when a new Pokémon appears). You then enter a sort of encounter with that Pokémon in which you can throw your Pokéballs at it or take pictures of it. Make sure to switch on the AR option so you can see the wild Pokémon superimposed into the world (using your phone’s camera). After catching your first Pokémon, you choose your name, and then you’re free to explore the wide Pokéworld.

Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW

My favorite thing about Pokémon GO so far is the use of Pokéstops. These are places of note, such as art installations, historical plaques, museums, or, in my experience, fancy bike racks. When you’re near one, you can click on it on your map and spin it to get things like pokéballs and eggs. You can visit the same stop more than once, but there is a cool down time between drops. I like them because they draw attention to little significant things around you that might normally go without notice. One near my house is a pavement marker in the sidewalk that I’d never noticed. These really foster the exploratory aspects of the app.

Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW

Of course, the Pokémon themselves do this too. You have to go out and search for them, most of the time (the exception in my case is that there was an Abra hanging out on my bed), and many are supposedly location-locked to places that make sense for them to be (e.g., water types will be near lakes or oceans or rivers, etc.). Rather a lot of Rattatas were hanging around my neighborhood, which I found extremely funny. Each Pokémon has its own stats, which you can view after catching it in your Pokémon menu.

Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW Pokémon GO iOS Game REVIEW

You gain experience from visiting Pokéstops and seeing/catching Pokémon. When you get to level 5, you can go to gyms and battle (presumably, I haven’t been close enough to a gym since leveling last) after choosing your team (red, blue, or yellow). I’m excited for this, as the battle mechanic is something I missed in my first few hours with the app. You don’t battle wild Pokémon, you just throw things at them, catch them, add them to your Pokédex, and repeat. I’m really looking forward to getting more in-depth content when I have a chance to explore the app more thoroughly.

DOWNLOAD –  Pokemon GO for iOS – FREE

For more information, visit pokemongo.nianticlabs.com.
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