It may seem like only a few weeks ago for the majority of us, but for dedicated players, the July 2016 release of Pokémon Go might as well have been a century ago. Throughout those hot dog days of summer, everyone seemed to catch Pokémon fever. Crowds could be found at every park, lounging in hammocks or stretched out on the grass until some new Pokémon appeared nearby. Those who hadn’t thrown a pokéball since putting down their original Gameboy ignited old memories, while others who had never even heard of a charmander were introduced to a whole new world filled with creatures cute and terrifying. Toddlers, teenagers, and even grandmas were hooked on the game.
As suddenly as the crowds of Pokemaniacs seemed to take over, they were gone even faster than that elusive dragonite could run away. Whether it was homework, cold weather, or just the game’s seemingly endless repetition, the autumn months saw the number of users drop by millions each week. Special events managed to draw players back occasionally with the promise of a rare porygon or chancey, but most just saw the game as a fad whose time was already over.
Last week Pokémon Go’s parent company Niantic dropped the biggest update since the game’s initial release. The second generation of Pokémon are finally here! More than eighty new Pokémon from the Johto region, including favorites such a chikorita, cyndaquil, and totodile, can be found almost anywhere your phone has a signal. Several others are available by evolving generation one Pokémon using new evolution items available from pokéstops. Baby versions of Pokémon such as pichu and igglybuff are still available as well.
For those who have taken a break from Pokémon Go over the winter months, here are a couple of updates to get you up to speed with the changes which have been implemented since you last played. A much more efficient tracking system targets Pokémon hanging out at pokéstops and pinpoints their location on a map, eliminating the need for aimless wandering trying to figure out which direction you need to go. Team leaders will evaluate your Pokémon and provide insights into its attack, defense, and stamina stats so you know which to place in battle and which should be traded for candies. Added catch bonuses let you earn almost double XP now, so leveling up should be much faster.
One of our favorite new features is the option to further customize your avatar with unique outfits. While some do cost pokécoins, other outfits are free and offer a great way to stand out from the crowd. Two new berry types have been added to the game; pinap berries will give you double candy for caught Pokémon which will let you evolve that rare Pokémon faster. Nanab berries will slow down overly excited Pokémon, another updated feature which gives wild Pokémon more evasive maneuvers. While harder to catch, it also provides more of a challenge and helps to change the repetitive catch sequences.
We know that some of you are no doubt just as big Pokémon Go fans as we are and still haven’t stopped playing the game since launch day. All of this might be old information for you, but we want to encourage lapsed or new players to join in this amazing game that has become such a sensation around the world. The game is much more engaging now than it was back in July, and new features are being added on an almost weekly basis. Not only is it fun just to play the game, but the social interaction and health benefits are even more incentive to get out there and catch them all. Whole communities have sprung up around the game, and it sure can be fun to meet up with a bunch of new friends to have an afternoon lure party or go on a gym raid at midnight.
Since we both started playing, we have been much more active every day as we venture out to see what’s new or to just walk our eggs. We have a combined mileage of almost seven hundred miles, and while a few of that is from circling our local Walmart parking lot, the majority is from walking the sidewalks and greenways of our community. This game has not only helped us to exercise more, but it also has spurred multiple trips to new cities, parks, and trails that we wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. On a recent trip to Chattanooga, we found an awesome park near downtown that we had never even noticed before. It’s also how we discovered Fort Loudon State Historic Park, which we covered in a previous issue.
If you’re worried about having a phone glued to your hand constantly, Niantic has released the Pokémon Go Plus, a device that can be worn on one arm and tracks your movement and automatically catches Pokémon for you with the touch of a single button. iWatch users will be happy to know that the game is also supported on that platform as well now.
Now may be the best time to jump back in the game because a special Pikachu Party event just kicked off for this week to celebrate Pokémon Day on February 27th. Marking twenty-one years since the release of the very first set of games, pikachus during this event will be much more common and have a party hat to keep for life! Happy hunting everyone!
Players may want to join the local Pokémon Go Facebook groups known as Pokémon Go Tri-Cities and Knoxville Pokémon Go! It’s a great way to get information on spawn sites, nests, and meet others who are just as crazy about Pokémon as we are!