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Game Info:

Pokémon Go
Developed by: Niantic Labs
Published by: Nintendo
Release date: July 6, 2016
Available on: Android, iOS, Windows phones
Number of players: Single-player
Genre: Augmented reality
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: Free with in-app purchases

The very first Pokémon games (Red and Green) were released twenty years ago in 1996.  Ever since then there have been nearly annual releases into the series.  Most of the games come in pairs with differing Pokémon between the two versions to encourage trading or buying both games to “Cacth them all” within the series.  Although there are seven hundred and twenty-one Pokémon to date, Pokémon Go currently only includes the original one hundred and fifty-one.  As of this writing, nobody has seen or caught them all yet (since some of the legendaires are not presently in the game).

The objective in Pokémon Go is simple.  You must walk around and locate and catch Pokémon in the real world.  The game uses your GPS location to keep track of your location and speed.  It encourages walking as driving while playing is disabled and extremely unsafe as people have gotten into car accidents while playing it.  There are several news stories about Pokémon Go related deaths, injuries and even cases of trespassing.  Be sure to pay attention to your surroundings while playing this game!

As you walk around, Pokémon Go keeps track of the distance you travel and uses it for incubating and hatching Pokémon eggs.  So far the eggs I have hatched required between 2 and 10km of walking.  Eggs can be received at various PokéStops along with Poké Balls, revives, raspberries, and healing potions.  PokéStops are actual places like parks, monuments, restaurants, churches, and even rides at amusement parks.  They can be revisited every five minutes for more free items.  If you’re looking for something in particular, you can buy them through in-app purchases.  

Pokémon Go
Highlights:

Strong Points: Free to play; fun to collect and battle Pokémon; great form of exercise
Weak Points: In-app purchases that can cost up to $99; significantly drains the phone’s battery; frequent server outages
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence and references to evolution

Everything in the game store can be purchased with Pokécoins.  100 Pokécoins go for $0.99 and you can get 14,500 of them for $99.99. Pokécoins can alternatively be earned in game if you take ownership of a gym. Some of the items you can buy are lure modules and incense to bring out Pokémon near your location.  Lucky eggs and incubators can be purchased as well.  Pokéballs and more storage space are also for sale.  Thankfully, most of these items can obtained for free if you’re patient, but not all of them.

Besides collecting free items at PokéStops, you can also get some when you level up.  You gain experience for each Pokémon you catch and evolve.  Experience and prestige can also be earned for winning at various Pokémon Gyms where you can battle against other player’s Pokémon.  Gyms are shown in either red, blue, or yellow depending on which team has control of it.

When you reach level five you’ll be given the chance to pick your team.  You must choose wisely as there is no turning back.  Team Mystic is the blue team and their focus is studying Pokémon and their evolution patterns.  Team Valor is the red team and they seek out the strongest Pokémon and trainers.  Last but not least is Team Instinct, or the yellow team.  Team instinct which focuses on a Pokémon’s intuition and hatching process.  Just in case you’re wondering, I joined Team Valor.

Pokémon Go
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 84%
Gameplay - 18/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

When you come across or hatch a Pokémon they have two numbers to take into consideration.  The HP (health points) and CP (combat power).  The higher both numbers are, the better they’ll do in battle.  When a Pokémon gets KO’d in battle you can revive them if you have a revive item in your inventory.  There are healing items as well to patch them up after a fierce battle.  Catching weaker Pokémon is still worthwhile since they give you experience, candy, and stardust.  Stardust is used to power up a Pokémon’s HP and CP but I only recommend doing this to Pokémon that are stronger to begin with.  Above each Pokémon is a half circle with a dot of where they fit on the range; the further to the right the dot is, the stronger they are.  Evolving Pokémon is done by giving them species specific candy which is earned by catching similar Pokémon types.  Again, it’s only worth evolving Pokémon that are strong to begin with.

Evolution is a quick powering up process that doesn’t go into specifics or biology in any way.  There’s no mention of millions or billions of years being required to make it possible.  Besides the evolution term being used, the other concern worth noting is the cartoon violence as the Pokémon do the equivalent of rooster fights against each other.  Each Pokémon has its strengths and weaknesses and there’s an element of strategy and knowledge needed to take them down without taking much damage to your own combatants.  Other than poison and other magic like elemental attacks there is no blood shown.

While Pokémon Go is suitable for children to play, they should be supervised while doing so because they may not be focusing on their surroundings as well as they should be.  Plenty of adults have injured themselves as well so it’s very important to be alert and use the program sparingly in crowded and heavily trafficked areas.  Also be warned that this game does a number to your phone’s battery with the heavy usage of its graphics chip, camera, and GPS locator.  There are battery saving options like dimming the screen and not using the camera for capturing Pokémon.  If you stay safe and keep your phone charged, there’s plenty of fun to be had in Pokémon Go.

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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