For fans, Pokémon Go is ‘dream come true’


Lisette Harris

Sophomore Nicholas Dalpe catching some Pokemon while walking his daily route home on a sunny Thursday afternoon.

Lisette Harris, Staff Reporter

Junior Diego Than Lopez walked down the green belt, iPhone in hand, when he encountered a wild Pokémon. A Rhyhorn. One of his favorites.

He shot off a few Pokéballs to capture the elusive Pokémon. But the app on Lopez’s smartphone froze, leaving him Rhyhorn-less and disappointed.

Lopez is just one of hundreds of thousands of players caught up in the Pokémon Go phenomenon.

Since the July 6 release of Pokémon Go, streets have been full of people catching Pokémon through their phone screens. With the app, Pokémon fans can finally be the real-life Pokémon trainers they always dreamed of being.

The app developed by Niantic Labs has over 490,000 downloads on the Apple App Store and over 6.2 million downloads on the Google Play Store.

The game begins with a small tutorial of how things work and uses Professor Willow, a character in the app that plays on the video game characters, to give a brief description of the basic mechanics and concepts of the game. Once someone turns on AR (augmented reality), the Pokémon show up right on the screen of the smartphone or tablet.

In the game, players walk around catching Pokémon using GPS to determine their locations and distance walking. The game has many features from the Nintendo games, including Razz Berries, eggs that hatch Pokémon by walking a certain distance, and different types of Pokéballs. The first Pokémon caught are one of the starters from the original Pokémon Red and Blue games: Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle. There is even a way to catch Pikachu as the starter.

Lopez started playing the game when it came out. His brother, a huge Pokémon fan, had been very excited about the release, inspiring Lopez to hop on the Pokémon Go train.

“I thought it was a really good idea,” Lopez said. “It’s a good step in making gamers more social.”

Lopez, who is level eight and a member of Team Instinct, one of the three teams on level five in Pokémon Go.

During a trip to South Padre Island, Lopez found a large number of water-type Pokémon. He usually visits gyms near the Kingwood Town Center and the Pokéstops located down his street.

According to a player’s location, they can go to gyms and Pokéstops in their area. Gyms are places trainers can battle Pokémon based on the team they choose, and Pokéstops are places trainers can receive items such as Pokéballs, Eggs, Razz Berries and Potions for healing or tired Pokémon. These are most commonly at churches, monuments, or other important locations.  Around the Kingwood Town Center, there are a handful of popular Pokéstops that most students visit. Students of K-Park have said many things of visiting the Pokéstops in the Randalls parking lot and the churches around there.

But some Pokéstops have caused controversy with the game and players who have decided to catch Pokémon in places like the Holocaust Museum and veteran memorials that are more common there than other areas. Many people believe this is disrespectful and have been asking for Niantic to remove gyms and Pokéstops from these locations.

K-Park senior George Cerro who has been playing since the app came out, is level seven and on Team Instinct.

Cerro has been playing Pokémon since he was a kid. The first Pokemon game he played was Pokémon Emerald.

“Me and my brothers all grew up with it,” Cerro said. “I played it as a kid and it is like a ‘real life dream come true’ kind of thing.”

Despite his passion for the game, Cerro no longer has the ability to play due to GPS problems on his cell phone. He wants people to stay safe while playing the game, saying that players should always go with someone if they are to go Pokémon hunting.

Many people have been raving about the positive things Pokémon Go has to offer.

“It’s fun and actually gets people out and about,” Cerro said, explaining what he thinks of the game so far.

Players, however, have been requesting multiple things from Niantic since the release. They want improvisations to the map of the game, the GPS and a variation of the three-step system that has previously been removed.

“In the beginning, it was very, very frustrating,” Cerro said. “Servers would crash, but they have made it more stable now.”

Niantic did not expect the amount of people who installed the application. Since the release, they have made the game easier for people to play.

Many new features have been added, including the introduction of Pokémon appraisal and buddy Pokémon. Despite the improvements, many players are still unhappy about the removal of the three-step system.

There is even a $35 add-on to the game called Pokémon Go Plus. It is a bracelet that uses GPS to determine a player’s location and the Pokémon around them  without having the app open on their phone.

Even though many players have been disappointed by some of the bugs and difficulties in Pokémon Go, similar to things like Lopez’ frozen screen, Niantic Labs has been promising many things to come from the popular app.

Sophomore Savanna Strickland, is one of the players upset about the bugs.

“Once they removed the Nearby Pokémon feature,” she said, “ it started to get really dumb.”

Regardless of complaints, Strickland still plays, once even staying up until two A.M. walking to McDonald’s looking for pocket monsters through the camera of her smartphone.