Pokémon GO (Android) Review

By Aria DiMezzo 13.07.2016 15

Review for Pokémon GO on Android

When Nintendo announced that it was going to begin making games for mobile devices, the developer also said it would not take the "easy" route of just releasing classic games to Android and iOS, and that it would instead focus its efforts on taking advantage of the unique elements mobile had to offer. Many were skeptical (Cubed3's own Aria among them) and felt that Nintendo was ignoring a goose that was sure to lay golden eggs, but then Pokémon Go released and swept the world. In a dazzling display that Nintendo still has "it," the entire idea of "mobile gaming" was redefined by Pokémon Go. That said, how does the real game fare? Cubed3 starts walking to find out.

It's difficult to describe the gameplay of Pokémon Go. It's a bit like any old Google Maps app, with a few critical differences, the most important of which is that the player is represented by a customised avatar (though customisation options are few) and the world is littered with Poke-Stops, Gyms, and Pokémon. Currently, only Pokémon from the first generation of games are scattered throughout the world, so there is lots of room for expansion, but players newer to the franchise may be disappointed that Pokémon Go seems designed for those of us who grew up with Gen I and who now have cars.

The foremost issue is that a vehicle makes all the difference. Poke-Stops can't be too clustered together, because that would allow people with vehicles to sweep through neighbourhoods and cities, racking up on items quickly and easily. They also can't be scattered across distances too great, as then the younger players who have to walk will rarely benefit from them. Currently, it's balanced heavily in favour of players who can drive from one stop to the next. Even able to do this, though, it's much too easy to run out of Poké Balls, because sometimes the throwing just doesn't work correctly, and Pokémon of higher levels aren't inclined to let themselves be captured. For those without a way to travel to eighty-four stops in twenty minutes, Pokémon Go will probably feel more like Pokémon Stop and Buy Poké Balls with Real Money.

Screenshot for Pokémon GO on Android

Another criticism is that, true to the original games, almost nothing is explained to players, and it departs from the classic RPG formula severely enough that considerable explanation is in order. Catching Pokémon, evolving Pokémon, and visiting Poke-Stops all earn experience for the player, but what does the player level do? The game doesn't say. Even the descriptions of items purchased in the store are bare. It's all well and good that Incence causes Pokémon to come to the player, but what is the encounter rate of that? How many Pokémon are likely to appear through a half-hour of using Incence?

Niantic promises that they are listening to player feedback and will "create the game that players want," and players are almost unanimously asking for traditional battling, levelling, and trading. Interactions between players are currently sparse, as there is no way to engage in direct battles with other trainers, or to trade with them. The only battles take place in gyms and have players swiping the screen to dodge, and tapping the enemy to attack. For a series that has become surprisingly deep over its life, to be delivered gameplay so bare makes Pokémon Go feel like a beta.

Screenshot for Pokémon GO on Android

The concept is phenomenal, and truly takes advantage of what mobile devices can do. Augmented Reality allows players to find a Scyther jumping on someone's roof, or a Caterpie peeking out from the grass, but the technology hasn't advanced to the point where the game itself is aware of what is displayed through the camera. It foretells remarkable things to come in the next few decades, once the algorithms become complex enough for the game to "know" that the Bellsprout is standing in front of a bush, but right now, it is reminiscent of very old green-screen newscasts. Players being tracked via GPS through the world as they hunt for Pokémon, hatch eggs, and look for gyms uses technology in a unique way to merge the real world with a video game world, and one can only imagine how this is going to manifest twenty years from now in combination with VR. The future looks incredible.

The present isn't looking as great, though, because there is very little true gameplay in Pokémon Go. If Niantic holds true to its promises and makes the game for which players are asking, then there is very little doubt that this one will secure numerous "Game of the Year" awards. There is no doubt that it is revolutionary and totally unlike other mobile games; this is no Angry Birds or Kingdom Rush: Frontiers. Nintendo stepped into mobile gaming and said, "No one is doing it right. This is how it's done."

Screenshot for Pokémon GO on Android

Server overload crippled the experience around launch, but has mostly been resolved by now. Questionable programming also reportedly provided Niantic with Full Access to the email accounts of all iOS players who signed up with a Google account, though this has since been fixed, and random crashes are still frequent. Players without a task manager will likely find themselves rebooting their devices often, as there is no simple way to Force Close the app. On top of this, Pokémon Go is to batteries as Mewtwo was to everything else in Gen I: a phone's battery just doesn't stand a chance.

Players in rural areas will literally not even see what the fuss is all about, because all of the real action takes place in cities. A rural player may be able to walk around in a field and find a few Pokémon, but that is all that can be accomplished without a trip to a nearby town. Whatever mechanism decided where to place landmarks also needs to be scrutinised, because many religious buildings are Gyms, and actual tombstones in graveyards can be Poke-Stops. These are kinks that will likely be worked out, but the overall impression is that Pokémon Go just wasn't quite ready for a full release.

Screenshot for Pokémon GO on Android

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Pokémon Go has revolutionised mobile gaming, and its full impact won't be realised for years to come. Even if it was merely a clever ploy to make increasingly sedentary people get out and exercise, it would be interesting enough to be worth a look, and a lot of its success has ridden on nostalgia. It's hard to convey just how awesome it is to find a Rattata hiding under the bed. What is there to actually do with that Rattata once it is captured, though? That is where Pokémon Go drops the Poké Ball, because there's just not enough to do. Though its impact will last a long time, interest in the game is unlikely to stay at high levels without major content patches that introduce actual gameplay to the experience.

Developer

Niantic

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Great review! Smilie I am happy that you manage to stay balanced about what might be the biggest thing in gaming in years. But seriously? I agree with you... I am really curious about how they decided to turn religious buildings into gyms and not putting anything at all out in rural areas... It feels a little skewed. But it has caused some funny things to happen to say the least Smilie I hope it gets fixed though so that people outside the urbanized zones gets to play, seems like something not exactly working as intended.

I am seriously not surprised that Nintendo entered the market and broke record after record though. They have IPs that sell unlike anything else in the world and they have the creativity and bravery to work outside the box if needed. Meanwhile I have to wait for this to release to experience it, and Miitomo as well that is yet not released where I live as I really do not feel like risking my account to get a head start.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

Not for me, but it's great to see lots of people really enjoying it! Smilie it's been a huge success!

I'm still enjoying it, but not for much longer, I'm afraid. The Gyms have poor AI, so it's easy to capture one, and the nearby gym just constantly changes hands been me and five or six other people. I'm quickly running out of things to do, though. Visit more pokestops to get more pokeballs so I can catch another 70 Rattatas and 107 Pidgeys... I'm level 15 now, and the really rare ones are starting to appear, but the battling is so weak that I'm losing motivation to search for them. I imagine that by Tuesday I'll have uninstalled it, but I'll look in on it from time to time to see if they've added any actual gameplay. :/

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

I believe they've mentioned they're listening to feedback and will try to implement the things people are asking for, namely battling between friends and possibly trading.

I'm an idiot and don't have roaming data, just wifi, so can't make the most of this game yet, and the Vodafone site won't let me log in to see if I can upgrade. Mad that I'm only considering upgrading to experience this game lol.

( Edited 15.07.2016 23:45 by Azuardo )

Our member of the week

lol Az you're not the only one, I don't have any mobile data plan, so I can't really experience the game. Plus, after initially being told the game wouldn't even install on a phone that has anything less than 2GB of RAM, I found that it runs on mine but it's just too laggy and stuttery to be enjoyable, so not only I can't play because I'd be stuck at home,but I'd need to upgrade my phone if I wanted to really enjoy the thing. If I could afford doing so I totaly would, but I simply can't Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I know that Niantic has said it, but I don't believe they'll go that far. It would require overhauling the entire game. I also don't believe for a second that they didn't know from the very beginning that players would go "Wait a minute. This is a Pokemon game. So... where is the Pokemon battling and Pokemon trading?"

Earlier today as I went from Poke-Stop to Poke-Stop, there was another guy playing behind me, doing the very same thing. We didn't even speak to each other. That should never happen with a game that has "Pokemon" in the title.

On top of that, the design is bad. It's well and good that I'm encountering Abra, Ponyta, and Gastly now that I'm level 16, but... They're still so rare that they're useless. They're just Dex entries, really. They're no more powerful than random Pidgeys I find, so it's kinda like playing the original Gen 1 game, but still encountering Pidgeys and Rattatas in Saffron City.

Image for

Image for

I don't see any way for them to fix that. Removing the Candy requirement from powering up Pokemon would be a great start, since then I could actually level up the rare Pokemon and make them competitive with the Flareon and Snorlax I've had for ten levels, but there's a lot of dissonance with this being a "Pokemon" game. There's a reason every gym is capped with a Flareon, Jolteon, or Vaporeon. No other Pokemon matters. And even though I've got a lot of history with the MMO Aion and grinding, I can't even fathom how much time it would take to get an Alakazam. Even worse, even if I did manage to, the Alakazam wouldn't be any better than the Snorlax I already have.

I guess the playing field is too even. I don't think a level 8 trainer with a freshly evolved Flareon should be able to easily kick me out of the gym, but it's so easy to take a gym that I've simply started leaving my starter Charmander with 12 CP defending gyms when I take them. It just doesn't make sense to leave a powerful one--someone is going to take the gym, and nothing can be done to stop it. So why use a Pokemon I'd have to use 4 Super Potions to heal?

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

Wow... O.O Is it really that easy taking over gyms... Sounds really weird to me. :/

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

They have indeed confirmed trading is coming, as well as a few other things. They confirmed this quite early. I think even at E3 (or around that time).
This company takes a very different - very unNintendo - approach to development. They don't release finished products so much as prototypes they keep adding too over time.


" also reportedly provided Niantic with Full Access to the email accounts of all iOS players who signed up with a Google account, though this has since been fixed, "

Was actually never true to start with. There was some bad missreporting based on a guess made by one hacker who found a error.
There was a bug, but no 3rd party software - no mater how bugged - gains "full access" to a signin gmail account. It couldn't read your mail, or send messages. What it did do, however, was get your email and phonenumber. 

 

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

Andre, it's ridiculously easy to capture gyms. The AI controls the defending pokemon, and they attack very slowly and never dodge. Just to see how it went, this morning I took a gym from three people using one Pidgeot. The Pidgeot's CP is 700~, while the defenders were all around 600. So while Pidgeot was more powerful, it shouldn't have been powerful enough to defeat three pokemon. I think Niantic wants gyms to change hands often, since I can only leave one pokemon to defend it, while attackers can use six to take it. If my pokemon successfully defends enough, the gym will gain enough prestige for another player to add a defender, but the odds will always fall heavily for the attacker.

I've stopped leaving behind weak ones, though, because there's another Team Instinct player in the area who can't yet take over a gym because his pokemon aren't strong enough. But he can throw his pokemon at my defender repeatedly, earning prestige since mine will win, and then bolster the gym with a defender and... gain nothing. Other than collecting 10 coins each day, there's no reward for having a gym, and you only need to hold the gym for ten seconds to collect the coins. If ThunderBuns my Snorlax defeats seventy challengers, it means nothing to me. With all that combined, the only thing ensuring that players leave strong defenders is that most players haven't noticed how pointless that is.

Darkflame, that's well and good, but I doubt people will still be playing this coming weekend. I know at least six people who uninstalled it yesterday, when Niantic's servers couldn't handle the load of people wanting to play on a sunny summer Saturday. Myself, I'm level 16 (at a time when must players are still 11-12), and still encountering primarily Pidgey, Rattata, Weedle, and Venonat, none of which have any value to me because of how the game is designed. Unless I'm going to drive 15 miles to another gym (and I'm not going to), I only need one powerful pokemon. So if a pokemon I catch doesn't come close to my top tier, it's literally useless, and I've got 3 CP900-1100 pokemon already. Even though I've caught a second Charmander finally, one Ponyta, one Jigglypuff, one Abra, they're no use to me. A CP400~ pokemon is useless garbage, and there's no way to power them up without collecting numerous specimens. Collecting numerous Charmanders and Abras just isn't feasible, and so there might as well be only Eevees in the game.

All that is to say I don't think it will matter that trading will be added, and that it will be too little way too late. It doesn't have any staying power, because there's just nothing to do, and no point in doing what little there is to do.

But yeah, plenty of apps gain full access to gmail accounts... TypeApp, BlueMail, Thunderbird... Full Access isn't uncommon, and it's required for email apps to work. Whether there was programming in the game capable of reading emails isn't the contention, but there seems no doubt, from what I've found, that it did have access, just not the capability.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

If I reviewed the game now, I'd give it a 3 at best. I live in a rural area. Driving to the nearby city just to play Pokemon Go, only to arrive and have the app constantly crash and servers not allowing me to login is unacceptable. Nintendo needs to pull it from app stores until it's at least stable. In ten minutes, I had to force close 6 times, and all of them while trying to catch pokemon that disappeared after the crash. I lost all 6 pokeballs (more, actually, as the pokemon broke out of a few) (of course, Niantic would be happy to sell me some more). After the 6th time, the game simply stopped letting me back in.

Nintendo's long history of releasing finished games is being dragged through the mud, and I'd be embarrassed if I owned the pokemon name and this was happening to it.

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

Yeah... The servers are the most unstable thing I have ever seen... :/ It is insane to be honest. I have given up on taking gyms, not because of the difficulty, but because it is impossible to get in and fight.

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

great review! Imagine if you were in the hood and did this review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvVLwquQEIw

I just opened the app for the first time since Friday morning, and I still control the local gym, which confirms for me that no one else is playing, either. Plus, my friends all played, and absolutely no one I know is still talking about it.

When I started walking around, I found only Pidgey, Rattata, Eevee, and Spearow. I'm level 21, and about 10k experience from 22 (they really don't want people leveling past 20--the experience needed skyrockets when you hit 20... I needed 50000 for 21, and 75000 for 22), and it doesn't matter. There are still only those same ones.

Niantic seriously blew it, in my opinion.

Worse yet, when I took another gym Friday, after the fight I had to heal so that I could leave the pokemon defending. When I finished healing a single pokemon, someone had already claimed the gym that *I* cleared out, before I could leave behind the pokemon I used to defeat the gym. That was about the final straw for me, though I did look back into it today. That should never have happened. I should never have the gym taken by someone standing nearby after I cleared it out and before I could tap five things necessary to leave behind a pokemon at the gym that I defeated. Smilie

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

That has happened to me as well several times... The one who clears the gym should have like 2-3 min to claim it before anyone else can. :/

The difference between illusion and reality is vague to the one who suffers from the former and questionable for the one suffering form the later.

 things to come in the next few decades, once the algorithms become complex enough for the game to "know" that the Bellsprout is standing in front of a bush," 

Nah, that will come much sooner.
Google honestly has a real service - right now, today, - where you can send a photo and their AI will tell you whats in it;
https://cloud.google.com/vision/

Tango enabled phones are starting to come out now too, which basically gives depth sensing.
(ie. Pokemon could appear to be behind stuff)

Will take a few years for penetration to be worth it, but I strongly suspect Ninatic will be using both these techniques within a year or two.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
Last update; Mice,Plumbers,Animatronics and Airbenders. We also have the socials; Facebook & G+

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