Thanks to Niantic and the Pokémon Co., we can officially catch Charmanders IRL—sort of. Pokémon Go is a brand new augmented reality app for iOS and Android devices that lets users walk around the real world in search of Pokémon.
Once users spot a Pokémon, they can use their devices’ camera to see the creature appear in the real world environment. There could be a ZuBat flying around your local coffee shop, or a Rattata lurking along the sidewalk, or a Bellsprout chillin’ under your desk. Once users get the Pokémon in their view, they can snap a photo or throw a Pokéball at it to add it to their Pokédex.
For kids who grew up watching Ash Ketchum and Pikachu do battle against Team Rocket and Meowth, this app is literally bringing childhood dreams to reality. From the raft of Nintendo video games and trading card games that came before it, Pokémon Go brings the franchise to life like never before—and fans are loving every second of it.
The free-to-play app features in-app purchases for things like Pokéballs, which you need to capture Pokemon, and Incense, which you can use to lure Pokémon to your location. You can even purchase eggs and incubators to hatch your own Pokémon over time. Or instead of purchasing, users can collect objects by hitting up Poké Stops, which are landmarks in different neighborhoods, like statues, monuments, churches, or even buildings featuring iconic street art.
There are 69 Pokémon to find and collect, and as users make moves in real life, new species will keep popping up on-screen. The Pokémon even stay true to their types, for example, water Pokémon can be found near bodies of water.
And, of course, users can battle their Pokémon at a gym, but they must wait to put their skills into action until they reach level 5. Never fear, leveling up is pretty easy and happens quickly as you move around and collect more Pokémon. Battling, however, will take users some time to master.
While iPhone-toting tots are sure to enjoy the newest addition to the Pokémon family of games, the sleek app design and nostalgic value makes it ideal for 20- and 30-somethings who grew up waiting for that precious holographic Charizard.
The downers: The app requires you to sign in with Google or the Pokémon Trainer Club, and sometimes you have to sign in every time you open the app, which is most certainly a glitch. With so many users flooding to the app since it’s launch, Pokémon Go crashes quite often, so hopefully Niantic has plans to update that issue soon. Also, it’s a major battery drainer, since it uses both your camera and GPS features on your phone, so be sure to have a charger nearby if you plan on going on a catching spree! But these are all small prices to pay for an app that brings every Pokémon fantasy you’ve ever had to life. Thank you, technology.
More effective than a Fitbit, Pokémon Go encourages users to get up, move around, and explore different environments as they attempt to catch ’em all. The endlessly addicting app is more exciting than Geocaching, bringing some of our favorite little creatures full of personality to our everyday lives.