You’re playing it, your friends are playing it, and… ok seriously, just about everybody is playing Pokémon GO! Is it any good as a game though? Let’s see what the critics think…
If Pokemon Go’s initial public reception is anything to go by, its ability to draw players from multiple generations and varied gaming backgrounds together is a game worthy of attention. When it works, Pokemon Go feels like a natural evolution for the series, very much a product of the times without making the mainline series obsolete. Its bugs and high battery consumption do not outweigh the old-but-new thrill of capturing Pikachu at a local park or vanquishing a Snorlax while conquering a gym.
Wherever it goes, though, right now Pokémon Go is in a fascinating position, a cultural artifact whose power and pervasiveness is impossible to ignore, even if you’re not playing it. Is it good? That’s a complicated question that’s going to change depending on how much you value a game’s mechanical depth versus the unique social experience it provides. But in a week of playing it, we’ve been all smiles while doing so. For now, that’s enough. When the servers are up, anyway.
Right now, Pokemon Go is an incredible, can’t-miss social experience — like Pokemon is actually real and everyone is on board — but its RPG mechanics and combat don’t have nearly enough depth to support itself in the long term. If people start to lose interest due to its lack of depth once the novelty of seeing Pokemon pop up around their everyday lives expires, the community will fall apart and the spell will be broken. What Pokemon Go needs is more features to support that real-world interaction. Things like Pokemon trading and leaderboards, which developer Niantic says are incoming, could keep that momentum up. Even if it will be short-lived, though, there’s no doubt it’s exciting to be a part of while it lasts.
We’ve got a game that I don’t enjoy from any angle (which sucks), but it’s also dominating the cultural conversation right now (which is great). I’m torn on this one, honestly! See, I don’t recommend Pokémon Go the video game. But I can’t get enough of Pokémon Go the cultural artifact. It’s a Videodrome-esque obsession, and I’m very disappointed in how excited I am to play my part. Long live the new flesh.
Despite its problems, Pokémon Go is something that I’m going to be playing for a long time to come (I mean, I have to catch ’em all, right?). Go has a solid base, and if Niantic can sustain and cultivate the community and Go as a platform, it has real potential. And by that measure alone, it’s quite a success, even if it still has a lot of room left to grow.
Despite its problems, Pokémon GO is an immensely enjoyable experience. The very personal nature of catching Pokémon in your own neighbourhood – something I’ve wanted to do since my first steps in Pallet Town all those years ago – made me smile more than any game has for years.
Reviews are rather mixed, but I can understand why. As a game, Pokémon GO is very limited, and in all honesty, not that great. From a social and cultural point of view though, holy cow – it is excellent!
People are outside exploring, discovering new places, and in the process, having a great time. That, and there’s something addictive about collecting Pokémon, and sharing rare findings and cool locations with friends.
I know I can’t get enough of the game. I really do want to catch em all!
Last Updated: July 15, 2016