Pokémon GO is a special entry to our “Worth Buying?!” series. Seeing as Pokémon GO is currently free and in beta we figured we would provide you with a little mini guide about Pokémon GO and what you can currently expect.

I’ve been a Pokémon fan since I was a little kid, as many people of my age are. I fondly remember playing Pokémon Yellow, the best version as the true believers know, with my friends in an attempt to catch them all. As the years went on I never truly left the video games, I went through periods of playing them less than others, but on and off I’ve always been around the series growing up. So when Pokémon GO was released last week in Australia to a resounding “Oh really? It’s available for download?” of course I jumped on board and took a look.

pokemon go on phonePokémon GO currently consists of walking around the world, you know…the…world, and catching Pokémon as they appear. This ties into a number of elements of Pokémon GO, for example my rural town has a lot of bugs and birds fittingly due to location. While day cycles and landmarks in the town play into affecting my experience.

Pokestops are located around notable locations in order to attract fans outside in exchange for items and equipment to either fuel play or create more to do. Eggs found at Pokestops can be hatched in exchange for kilometers traveled, while incense lures Pokémon towards you for less guess work in the gameplay. This all ties into the bread and butter of the game though, capturing Gyms for your team. After enough experience has been earned you can join a team, being either Red, Blue or Yellow. Teams Valour, Mystic or Instinct respectively. Team Mystic clearly being the best.

You take the Pokémon captured from your travels and fight other players at Gyms to earn Pokecoins and hold real world locations at ransom. What we currently have is a simple, fun little Pokémon experience attached to the ideals the video games always held close, to explore the world and catch Pokémon.

pokemon go outsideI won’t sugar coat it, the release has been pretty shaky. The complete lack of announcement coupled with crashing servers, horrible lag, GPS issues and many general problems with the app hasn’t made it any easier to become the very best. It also feels slightly insulting that those who do have the game are likely just the cannon fodder for the release phase, Pokémon GO isn’t even out in Japan yet, the one place that you would think is getting it first. Are they deliberating use us for a test run? Maybe, maybe not.

Feels like a smart if sneaky thing to do though. All of this aside though, anyone who has ever played an online game at release has no room for surprise. Pokémon is massively popular worldwide and has been for decades. Anyone expecting anything less than what we’ve been dealing with was either overly positive or simply unaware. Never be overly positive people.

pokemon go mapEnough of its issues though, I’m sure the news is more than happy to bash on Pokémon GO for several weeks without my help. The question is, do I like what I’ve played and is Pokémon GO worth playing? The answer to both questions I believe is yes, certainly if you’re a fan, and if not then it’s worth a try for at least one good reason. The core motivation behind Pokémon GO is a rather simple one. Behind being a Pokémon game and a joint foray into the world of Augmented Reality gaming, it really wants people to get outside.

There have of course been no shortage of people complaining about this being bad. Stories both real and fake concerning people walking into traffic, not paying attention and most famously a case where a young girl found a corpse. All of these concerns are…mostly…grounded in some sense of true worry. Things do happen, issues can arise from this mass migration to the outdoors. Yet I can’t find it inside myself to really support this argument though, I mean have the seen the world lately? If something is actively getting people exercising in the outdoors, then we seriously need more of that.

Despite real and vastly exaggerated concerns, there has been a lot of positive socialising in cities and towns as strangers have met and hung out all because of hot spots located in real life. Popular areas that drew fans together and created a micro-community for people to meet and play together. If you’re worried about getting stabbed for leaving the air conditioned comfort of home though, maybe just don’t do something stupid like go to a park alone at midnight.

pokemon go on a phonePokémon GO is fun, and on a base level it achieves the goal it set out to accomplish. To get people outside. I already walk in the afternoons and if nothing else it’s great having another reason to want to go for that walk beyond the guilt and shame the mirror brings.

Pokémon GO can be so much more than it currently is though, and I truly hope the people behind this continue to work closely on this going ahead. So far we’ve seen a Pokedex with 133 catchable Pokémon so there is always room for more. What we have is a nice start, but it could really become a great game with a lot of care, attention and polish. Any reason to get people up and about on some level can’t be a terrible thing either, even if only to encourage that extra few minutes in order to hit up a Pokestop down the street on the way to work.