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App of the week: Pokémon GO

App of the week
Pokemon Go

What is Pokémon GO?

There was only one game that could possibly take the crown of app of the week today and it’s the inimitable Pokémon GO! It’s the nostalgic craze that’s taken the world by storm, allowing players to relive their youth, as well as introducing a whole new generation to the wonderful world of Pokémon. If you’re wondering why you’ve seen a lot of people randomly wandering the streets staring at their phone (more so than usual!), it’s because this app goes beyond any other Pokémon game we’ve seen before, taking the premise into the real world. Players can literally step into the shoes of a Pokémon trainer and go hunting for their favourite Pokémon on the streets, from Charmander to Pikachu to Squirtle; collecting Pokéballs along the way to ultimately battle at Pokémon Gyms when you’ve earned enough experience. It’s the perfect game to play with your kids down the park or out on a Sunday stroll, breaking the mould of video games cooping children up in the house.

But, how does Pokémon GO work?

If we want to get technical, Pokémon GO is an augmented reality, geotagging game for smartphones. The revolutionary app uses your phone’s GPS to display a map of your surroundings and different Pokémon pop up, which you need to physically walk (or run!) to catch. Once you’ve reached it, simply tap on the Pokémon and the app uses your camera to make it appear before you. Then, it’s up to you to catch it by throwing a Pokéball – but, beware! Some species are trickier to catch than others and you only have a set number of Pokéballs to spare, until you need to find more.

Sounds great, but is it really worth the hype?

If you’re a Pokemon fan – which let’s face it, we all were at one point – then, absolutely! The game is still finding its feet and often struggles to cope with the unexpected demand, so the servers are a bit unpredictable right now. But, these are surely teething probably that the creators, Niantic and The Pokémon Company, will iron out in due time. Sure, there’s an argument that we don’t need another reason to be glued to our smartphones, but Pokémon GO is different in that it encourages us to actually get active. It’s also more social than it seems, with people congregating at Pokéstops and Gyms, swapping tips on how to become a better trainer and sharing locations of rare Pokémon.

Catch ’em all with care

The nature of Pokémon GO means you’ll want to be glued to your smartphone at all times to ensure you don’t miss a rare Pokémon popping up. But, it should go without saying that you should never use the app while driving or stop in the middle of the road to jump out and catch one – like numerous videos that have appeared online in the past few days. You should also be careful when hunting those pesky Pokémon in the streets, so you don’t wander onto the road or walk into something! The geotagging aspect of the app should be used with caution, especially if you are letting your kids get in on the action, as you might not want them heading off unaccompanied.  In fact, Pokémon hunting is more fun with friends, so ensure your little ones don’t go it alone.

Okay, I’m in. How do I get it?

Pokémon GO is now available in the UK on both iOS and Android, and completely free to download! There is the option to make in-app purchases to progress through the game faster, but that takes the fun out of it, don’t you think? Now, go catch ‘em all!

App of the week