GO Plus allows you the fun of Pokemon GO without the full immersion of the app.
The much-anticipated Pokémon GO Plus device was released yesterday, and I personally feel like Niantic could have done better. Not even with the device––I’ll be getting to that––but with the release. I found out that the PoGo+ was on sale via Twitter. I went to the Pokémon GO website and literally nowhere on its page about the PoGo+ was their information on how to buy the darned thing. I ended up finding another article suggesting I try GameStop, as the only retailers on Amazon and Ebay were/are still selling the device for over twice is retail value. Just an aside, here: don’t enable those sleazebags. We’ve all waited this long for the Plus. It 100% is not worth the extra $50, I promise. Call around. There are probably some overlooked GameStops left with one or two.
Okay, so the PoGo+ is a map marker-shaped and Poké Ball-colored button that can vibrate and flash red, green, yellow, and blue. It does different combinations of these things to let you know what it’s doing in game. Some have complained about it feeling cheap, and I can see where these people are coming from. I do not personally think it’s anything less than what I expected from the device, but the box it came in looked a bit like someone printed it a home (and then kind of beat it up a bit). If you’re worried about the look of the thing, though, don’t put it on that horrid bracelet, folks. It takes a tiny screwdriver and effort, and it makes the already obviously kind of tacky accessory worse. Clip it on somewhere. Hold it in your hand. Anything but that other thing. There are also already skins available on Amazon if you want to change the look of your PoGo+ to show some team spirit.
Moving on, pairing the device to your Pokémon GO account is easy. You go to Settings, Pokémon GO Plus, and select your device (make sure to remove the insulating tab and to press the button so your PoGo+ shows up on the list). After pairing your PoGo+, there will be an icon on your Pokémon GO interface that looks like the PoGo+ that allows you to more easily connect and disconnect from the device. From there, as long as you have the Pokémon GO app running on your phone, the PoGo+ will alert you to nearby Pokémon and PokéStops. If you have the app up on your phone and the PoGo+ on, the interface icon will indicate which Pokémon the PoGo+ is locked on to. One quirk that I noticed is that there can be multiple Pokémon in range on my screen, but it can take forever for the PoGo+ to alert.
The one huge perk to having the PoGo+ is being able to put your phone away, save some battery, and still track your egg-hatching, candy-collecting kilometers walked. Now, if you exit the app without shutting it down, you’ll have a “Pokémon GO is Using Your Location” ribbon across the top of your screen so you know that everything is still working. Other perks include being able to look up when you’re walking through a PokéStop-heavy area and still collect Poké Balls, which are important because, unlike in the app, you can only use Poké Balls to catch Pokémon with the PoGo+. It doesn’t default to Great Balls then Ultra Balls if you run out, you just won’t be able to catch Pokémon. But to help with that, when you try to catch a Pokémon with the PoGo+, you only have one throw before you either catch the Pokémon or it runs away, so there’s no wasting ten balls on something particularly evasive. For those worried about catch rate, since you can’t throw curveballs or use Razz Berries or any of your other Pokémon-catching tricks, I’ve found mine to be about 50%. The PoGo+ does have a different light/vibration combo for Pokémon you haven’t caught yet, though, so you won’t miss those.
Another perk is the push notifications. Many people have been asking for these for the app in general, but they’ve remained mysteriously absent. They’re still pretty basic with the PoGo+, not telling you what is nearby or what you catch/miss while using the device, but it’s better than nothing.
The PoGo+ does exactly what was promised, all in all. It allows you to play Pokémon GO with a little less immersion, which can be good. It can take away from gameplay if you let it, as just pressing a button every once in a while is seriously less entertaining than the actual app. It is meant to be a supplement to in-app play, not a replacement. So go forth, everyone who is still playing Pokémon GO (I can’t be the only one), and catch ’em all.