Yes, I know it’s been out for a long time, but I resisted. Not anymore. My friends have all been playing it, and I partly avoided it because I knew it would be addictive – I didn’t want anything to get in the way of study. Now that study was over, my excuses were thin.
So, keeping in the spirit of writing more articles on game design, I thought I would also share some light thoughts occasionally on what I’ve been playing, starting with Pokemon Go.
It’s interesting to reflect that, despite the fact I’ve played most of the 3DS Pokemon games, none of them have caught me the same way that Gold and Silver did. Sometimes I think it’s because they are too easy – Red and Blue are way harder than the modern games. Maybe it’s just nostalgia – but no, I think in a raw kind of way they really were made better, and the new games tried to hold too hard onto the past.
Not so with Pokemon Go.
Even though it’s so simple and stripped down, and by no means perfect – not enough motivation for battling gyms, no pvp battles, buggy and darn some pokemon are annoying to catch – yet it’s delightfully addictive, just like I knew it would be. It brings back the delight I had in my childhood with Red, Blue, Gold and Silver. And let’s not forget the almighty Crystal!
Maybe in a way it’s because it’s novel. You actually find Pokemon by walking around in the real world – and different is often a very good thing, or at least finding ways to be fresh. Being encouraged to walk around and have them pop up on your GPS map is another whole level of immersive, and that’s great. You feel like a trainer. I think it’s more than that though. It brings back the joy of the social aspect.
For me, games throughout my childhood were almost always about playing with friends. It was a social thing. Couch co-op for the win. I never cared for online games – I was a couch co-op fan, and I still am. It’s the main reason I keep buying Nintendo’s new consoles, and why I haven’t bothered with the others.
Online is fine, and I love playing stuff like PUBG, but couch co-op has a magic online will never have. There’s something so satisfying, when you hit your best friend with a blue shell, being able to turn to him moments before the impact, and see the look of horror on his face, as you whizz past into first place. Priceless.
With Pokemon, even if we weren’t battling or trading together, just playing near each other and talking about what we were doing as kids was fun. Pokemon Go brings that back in a new way. You can walk down the street together and stop to catch the same Pokemon – even if you are technically each catching your own, there’s still something shared about the experience.
Plus doing raids and battling gyms together truly is, or can be, co-op.
And shinies are easier to catch in Go than ever. As of time of writing, I’ve been playing one week and caught 17 (15 were on a special community weekend where shinies are more common).
It’s a great little game, especially if you’re in a relationship – I’ve seen lots of couples enjoy getting it out to play when they go for walks. And adding the new Let’s Go Pikachu into the mix for Nintendo Switch brings that co-op back in another dimension.
I think what this game has done is remind me what the magic of Pokemon is. It’s more immersive, really finding Pokemon out in the wild. It’s caused me to reconsider why I loved Pokemon in the first place, and I think at the top of the list is how it brings friends together.
I think that’s something important to remember when considering how you want to design your own future games. Games that bring friends together stick in the heart.
And that’s why I will keep buying Nintendo.