App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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PokémonGOis bad on several levels. Technically, the game is extremely rough around the edges; design-wise, there's very little game to play; and in the Pokémondepartment, GOmay contain the likenesses and some of the lingo of the world of Pokémon, but very little else. Despite all of these issues, PokémonGOis still a pretty fascinating thing that's probably worth looking at if you have any fondness for Pokémon.
Pokémon GOis made by Niantic, the developers behind Ingress, a location-based, augmented-reality (AR), multiplayer game. Much like Ingress, Pokémon GOtakes your surroundings and turns it into a game, only this time you can capture Zubats and Digletts as you walk around.
In addition to capturing Pokémon, players can also collect items at various Pokéstops, battle at Pokémon Gyms, and incubate eggs to hatch new Pokémon. All of these actions pretty much require you to get up and move around, making GOa game you can only really play on the move.
It's not very effective ...
While this all might sound great in practice, Pokémon GOsuffers from a variety of things that make it pretty unpleasant to play. Currently, the main issue with the game is its poor performance. In almost every instance of playing the game, I experienced server issues, crashing, or some other strange bug that has either severely diminished my experience or rendered the game unplayable.
Even if these issues didn't exist, Pokémon GOoffers up little in the fun department. Catching Pokémon and gym battles are little more than mini-games that feel random, and incubating and upgrading Pokémon are tiresome affairs that nudge you toward spending money to speed things up.
Catch 'em all, together
The one redeeming quality of Pokémon GOis its AR functionality. By having a game where people need to gather by Pokéstops or gyms in the real world, the game brings people together in ways that are more interesting than what's happening on screen.
This wouldn't be nearly as compelling if Pokémon wasn't so dang popular. Because of the cache that Pikachu and friends have built up over decades, it seems like everyone is playing Pokémon GO. Walking around my neighborhood, I can spot folks gathering around parks, using lures for each other to hunt Pokémon, and it's really neat to see.
The bottom line
I can't really say that Pokémon GOis a good game, or even that it provides quality Pokémon fan service. Despite that, people are drawn to it, and this surge of popularity is fun to be part of and observe.
It's hard to know exactly how long Pokémon GOwill stay popular, but as long as it is, there's somethingaround the game that makes it worth taking a look at, warts and all.