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Biggest disappointments in Pokemon Go

Pokémon Go is life... at least for the millions of players who've swarmed to the mobile game since its hugely successful launch. Yet any new Pokémon release comes with high expectations, many of which simply weren't met by Go. While producers Niantic plan on making the game more robust and balanced, for some, it just doesn't feel like a genuine Pokémon experience yet. Here's why.

Easy prey

One of the most integral parts of the Pokémon series is the ability to battle and catch wild Pokémon. And while Pokémon Go allows users to wander into traffic to catch a rogue Gastly, there's no battling involved at all. Instead, capturing wild pocket monsters has become a game of virtual ring toss, often with horrible physics. By bouncing a Pokéball off of a circle around the Pokémon, you may (or may not) capture it. And because of the game's AR is occasionally jittery, you may waste a few dozen Pokéballs in your attempt. There are few feelings worse than flicking the entrapping orbs at your own feet instead of your Pokémon victim. It's like the abridged version of a real Pokémon experience. While fun, it's inauthentic.

Gym takeovers

In the classic Pokémon, you visit a gym, battle its leader, and win a badge. Instead of this high-powered scavenger hunt, Pokémon Go is far more territorial, and players are forced to choose one of three poorly-defined teams. They converge on gyms, battle for superiority, and live with a constant tickle in the back of their brain that someone will topple them from their mighty Poké-perch if they're not constantly vigilant. Pokémon Go could have at least partially been an app to inspire travel, collecting virtual badges from around the country, as was the way of Ash. Now, we have cars idling outside of strangers' houses at all hours, or people invading meaningful landmarks to knock out Charmanders. Ultimately, it amounts to visiting the same locations over and over. Something about that is very counter to the spirit of Pokémon—and private property.

Rural ruminations

The tragic fact of Pokémon Go is that it's unintentionally catered to players who live in populated areas. Because the game is essentially a cartoon reskin of Ingress, a vast majority of its Pokéstops are locations with high population density, which Ingress players had previously marked. If you live in a small town, your local game will be a barren wasteland. None of this really fits with the narrative of Pokémon, where trainers spend most of their time wandering through forests, with an occasional visit to a small town or a gym. Granted, wandering through the untamed, un-wi-fied woods to play a mobile game isn't always a great idea, but without the option to flesh out more obscure areas, Pokémon Go remains largely a toy for cityfolk.

Terrible GPS

The essential GPS function on Pokémon Go is a disaster for some players. Whether it's because your phone doesn't have the most fine-tuned GPS, it's slightly cloudy, you're stuck on an overloaded server, or your phone service can't handle all of the new location requests, players have spent days on end just waiting for their game to connect consistently. It'll sometimes position you a good distance from your actual location, and you'll have to walk in circles until it catches up. Even worse is when you finally find a Pokéstop, carefully maneuver your car into a sensible parking spot, and you inexplicably lose your GPS signal just as you approach. It's enough to make you want to stomp an Oddish...and those guys are adorable.

Wide world of weirdos

You'll run into plenty of great people while playing Pokémon Go, but there's always going to be that one weirdo who follows you out to your car. (We're talking about you, Raymond.) A brief discussion about the local Zubat is fine, and even expected, because we're all in this app together, but there are occasionally characters who can be overcompetitive, overzealous, or just plain lonely. Do you walk around with your phone out and broadcast that you're in public looking for imaginary monsters and suffer the social consequences, or do you keep it in your pocket and wait for it to buzz, potentially missing a valuable Pikachu? It's your call.

Pay-to-play

Because it's a mobile app, microtransactions are expected. For self-contained or minimally competitive games, tossing a few bucks at a challenge to make it a bit easier is okay. No one will complain, least of all the developer. But because it's an actively competitive mobile app, those with cash can quickly rise to the top. It's an issue with just about every multiplayer online game, but Pokémon is a property that's basically for kids, and it's been forcibly adopted by nostalgia addicts. There's nothing wrong with that either, but putting a paywall in front of a little aspiring Ash Ketchum just feels nasty.

Lousy launch

Because of an unprecedented demand for the game, Niantic's servers just couldn't handle the initial traffic. Many days after launch, games still regularly freeze just after important captures. While portions of the app have smoothed out, there are still plenty of aspects that simply don't work consistently enough to offer a completely enjoyable experience. Everything still feels like it's in beta mode, and the game hasn't even been made available to the whole world yet. How will Team Mystic ever get to the local gym if none of their phones can get into the app?

Hackémon

As with any competitive app, there are already cheaters out there. Within days of release, it was easy to find files helping players obtain endless currency, level up their Pokémon without any effort, and visit local gyms without leaving their bathroom. One would hope that the endless moral lessons of Pokémon would somehow carry over into real-world Pokémon Go etiquette, but as long as there are people who can't be bothered to play the game right, there'll always be that pang of disappointment and distrust.

Nintendon't

Though Pokémon is synonymous with Nintendo, Pokémon Go just doesn't feel like a real Nintendo game. The charm and humor that represents Nintendo is missing, replaced by a boring interface, blocky and limited 3D characters, and bugs that Nintendo would never usually allow into a final product—and we're not just talking Parasects. Instead of walking through a virtual world where you can imagine Brock and Misty hanging out, Pokémon Go never reaches that stage of beautiful immersiveness that was initially promised. No, it's not VR, but Niantic's AR still feels like it falls short.

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