Ah, Pokemon Go. The only mobile game that has ever successfully captured my attention for more than a few months. Perhaps it's merely the nostalgia, remembering times when I was a child playing Pokemon Red and Silver. I was a Pokemon fanatic as a child: I collected the cards, bought the books, and occasionally with the blessing of my mother my brother and I would pick an episode that we had missed to rent from Blockbuster. I still cry when I watch Pokemon: The First Movie. Yeah, you could call me a fan.
With Pokemon playing such a big part of my childhood, you can begin to imagine my sheer joy when Pokemon Go was announced. It was everything I had imagined as a child and dreamed of as an adult. When the API became available at the beginning of July 2016, I downloaded it. (The official launch date according to Google Play in my region is July 17, 2016 but my account was created on July 6, 2016).
Since its initial release, Pokemon Go has gone through many evolutions. On launch, there was a rather sophisticated tracking system that was eventually removed and was never really replaced by another method of easily locating Pokemon. They also did their best to take down any third parties that attempted to provide tracking information, which was a huge slap in the face when their tracking system was non existent. There was a bug where it seemed that catching Pidgeys would get progressively harder the more Pokeballs you used. You couldn't change your gender or account name in the beginning, nor could you add friends to battle or raid with. (Not that raids even existed back then…) The list goes on of issues that came up that contributed to a lack of player retention. Of the dozens of friends I have who created accounts with me, there are three or four of us left. That is not to say that there isn't still an active player base: during community days, I can regularly meet up with 20+ players. On days where the weather is fair, I have seen hundreds of players out enjoying the game.
This morning, details were finally released on the much anticipated battle system. This has been a feature that has been asked for time and time again and honestly should have been prioritized. However, I suppose I should just be thankful it's finally going to be implemented. The initial details indicate that trainers will use teams of three Pokemon, which is rather disappointing as the tried and true party system in the traditional games includes six Pokemon. However, that’s admittedly only a minor annoyance. The announcement also states that we will be able to select a league based on the CP of our Pokemon, which is great considering obviously my Pokemon won’t be as powerful as my level 40 friends.
The most exciting part for me is that Ultra and Best friends will be able to battle from anywhere. Most of my friends who play Pokemon these days aren't local, so it's definitely nice that the game is filling that desire to play together from afar. Not to mention, thanks to websites like Reddit I have friends in Pokemon Go all over the world.
Pokemon Go trainer battles have been over two years in the making. I'm tentatively hopeful but not holding my breath as I wait for the feature to be released later this month. Read the official announcement here.