Pokemon GO Gets Invaded!

One of the things that has been sorely missing from Pokemon Go since the beginning is NPC Trainer Battles. I mean sure there are the training battles that you can have with the team leaders, but those skirmishes do not carry any stakes. This is why I feel that the introduction of Team GO Rocket (ridiculous name aside) is a step in the right direction for Niantic’s AR Giant.

As it stands the encounters are pretty straight forward. While playing, be on the look out for a PokeStop that is doing its best impersonation of a Silent Hill Nurse. Once you walk up to the twitching item pole it will turn black and a Team GO Rocket grunt will pop out to indicate that you can have a battle here. This encounter is made all the better by the comments that the grunts make when you approach them and beat them. Each grunt seems to have three Pokemon that all center around one. (Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard). Each of these Pokemon will be rocking a shadowy aura around them. This makes them stronger than their average counterparts, so you might need to pour some stardust into your team in order to stand a chance against some of the tougher battles. Shadow Snorlax is a sleepy demon from hell and deserves all of the punishment it gets.

Once you finish the battle with the grunt you will have the chance to catch the first form of the Pokemon in question. You are set up, much like after a Raid battle, with a certain amount of Premier Balls based on your modifiers. It seems like you can get more by finishing the new Purifier and Hero badges that released with the encounters. The Purifier badge is filled out by how many Shadow Pokemon you purify, while the Hero badge is filled out with how many Team GO Rockets you defeat. So far I have only gotten 4 Premier Balls, but after a couple more battles this will most likely change. Once you catch the Pokemon you are able to leave them in the shadow form or purify them. Purifying your shadow babies makes them stronger, however it does cost candy and stardust.

It also looks like this event is just the start of a bigger story. The grunts seem to allude to a boss type figure pulling the strings from the shadows. This boss wants Team GO Rocket to take over the PokeStops for some evil purpose that is sure to be explained in time. I do find it funny that, what started as a Pokemon catching/walking simulator, has turned into a living world with its own lore that defines it. If this is how the next few years of Pokemon Go are going to play out than I am excited to see it unfold.

Hands-On with Go-Tcha, the Pokemon Go Plus Subsititue

With Raid battles and improved Gyms at the forefront of Niantic’s plan for the summer, I have been on the lookout for ways to improve my game. I had been using the Pokemon Go Plus with varying levels of success and I was content with knowing that this was as good as it was going to get. Enter in Go-Tcha, a weird little wearable that acts just like your Plus assessor with a few more bells and whistles. The major improvement is that Go-Tcha is automatic. That’s right! When you enter that range of a Pokemon or PokeStop the device will automatically attempt to add the item or Pokemon to your collection. The interesting part is that it manages to do so even when I am driving around town.

Go-Tcha and charger

The device itself is tinier than I thought it was going to be, with one touch screen button for all of the features. You cycle through them with the red button and hold the button when you want to change the setting. With the Go-Tcha you can…

  • Automatically catch every Pokemon you come across
  • Only catch Pokemon you have never come across
  • Automatically collect from PokeStops (except the ones attached to Gyms)

In order to put the Go-Tcha to the ultimate test, I decided to do a head to head battle with my friends PokeGo Plus. After several hours of play, I noticed that the Go-Tcha seemed to have a better catch rate, with me catching three out of four of the Pokemon I encountered. PokeStops were read quicker than on the PokeGo Plus and the device would show the number of items I received on its screen.  Also, the form factor of the Go-Tcha made it a little less obvious that I was playing Pokemon Go which may or may not appeal to certain people who like to play on the DL.

Go-Tcha on the right, PokeGo Plus on the left

After owning the Go-Tcha for a week I have discovered the devices biggest weakness, it is way too tiny. That coupled with the terrible rubber that the device sits in makes it very easy to lose. In fact, I lost mine. One second it was on my wrist, the next the Go-Tcha was nowhere to be found. The device could benefit from a higher quality wrist strap, something that will make your $40 dollar investment safe.

However, I will buy the Go-Tcha again. Why, because it is just that good. Being able to hit PokeStops automatically while driving from place to place is a Pokemon Go players wet dream. It puts the game on autopilot and allows you to focus on the meat of the game. Catching Pokemon. I wouldn’t recommend the auto-catch feature unless you just need to fill your box with every useless Pokemon you can find, but for the price, the Go-Tcha is a worthwhile purchase.

Raids, the Savior of Pokemon Go?

A long time ago, when Pokemon Go was just a secret wish in the hearts of Pokemon fans, I longed for a co-op game based in my favorite monster hunting universe. A game in which I and my friends could go out and capture lightning mouses and annoying pigeons together. Then, as if out of nowhere, Niantic swooped down and graced us with an AR game like no other (if you refuse to count Ingress).

Enter Pokemon Go in the summer of 2016. PKGO was a buggy mess that was mostly used for capturing rats and birds, yet there was something about it that made the game a hit. If I had to give it my best guess, it would have to be the player interaction. Even though we weren’t really playing together it sure did feel like we were. Now, with the launch of Raids and Gym upgrades, I am starting to see some of that magic that I did the first night I went out to play.

Let me start by saying that Raids are a ton of fun. Even though my first one ended up being a Magikarp, (something that made me laugh harder than it should have) I had a great time planning out my team in order to take down the super-powered fish of doom.

The game is set up to where you can only get one free Raid Ticket per day, however, you can buy extra Raid Tickets from the store for only 100 coins. That means that for $0.99, plus tax, you have the potential to score a super powerful Pokemon and some pretty sweet items. I got two rare candies, a golden razzberry, and 3000 experience from beating that fish into the dirt. Then, after ti was all over, I got to throw balls at it until it decided to do my bidding. Great times were had by all.

I can already tell from my short experience with the Raids that they are going to be better with friends. The feeling of taking on a big challenge with fellow players is something that Pokemon Go was missing. Now, I can finally do something with those heavy hitters I have been working on. (Bellossom has now been renamed DeathPlant).

With that being said, the Raid system isn’t perfect. Far from it if you ask me. Battles are way too glitchy and the bosses tend to flop from easy to overwhelmingly difficult without any real middle ground. It would be awesome to see Raids adjust to the level of the player but this seems to be wishful thinking. For now, Raids are a great excuse to get out and play again.