Pokémon GO, Updates & More!

Aidan Simmonds, Staff Writer

Pokémon GO, the 2016 mobile game that became a worldwide phenomenon, recently underwent its biggest update yet, adding over 80 new monsters for aspiring trainers to catch, train, and battle with.

Pokémon GO, developed and published by Niantic, was first launched in July of 2016 and instantly became a success, immediately topping the App Store charts. The game brings the long-running Pokémon series of video games into the real world, encouraging players to explore their surroundings in hopes of finding Pokémon, who appear on your phone’s screen as if they were actually out in the world with you. Other features in the game involve the ability to evolve certain monsters into more powerful ones, finding “Pokéstops” at various landmarks that provide you with helpful items and battling other trainers for control of “Gyms.”

After it launched, Pokémon GO became an international phenomenon, with millions of players across the globe becoming trainers. Many outlets noted its positive impact on society. People were joining together to find rare beasts, and connections were made among various “team” members. Even getting players to go out and exercise, as the game used GPS technology, required you to be physically near a location to get its benefits.

However, it also caused some controversy, with concerns over the usage of the game in sacred areas and while driving, for example. Despite being a monumental success when it debuted, popularity began to wane, and by the fall of 2016 it was estimated that Pokémon GO had lost 79 percent of its players, according to Forbes. The game has a continuing dedicated fanbase, and Niantic continually supported the game through adding new features, including a “buddy” Pokémon that followed you around. The developer also began making season events for the game, including a Halloween-themed event that allowed you to find candy (used to level up and evolve your monsters) easier, and a recent Valentine’s Day event that made it easier to catch pink-colored Pokémon, like Jigglypuff and Chansey.

The game originally launched with Pokémon from the so-called “first generation” of Pokémon games, or those that were introduced in the series’ first titles, Red, Blue, and Green Versions for the Game Boy.

The most recent update was Pokémon GO’s biggest yet, which was the first that added a substantial amount of new monsters out in the wild. This set of creatures are from the “second generation” titles, Gold, Silver, and Crystal Versions, which originally launched on the Game Boy Color. Instead of originating in the Kanto region like the previous generation, these new Pokémon all first appeared in the Johto region, and included not only brand new species and evolutionary lines, but even gave existing Pokémon brand new evolutions. Some even have branching evolutions now, with the option to choose what to evolve your Pokémon into. In addition to this, new evolutionary items were added to the game as well, which, along with the necessary amount of candy needed for evolution, were required to evolve certain species.

Despite this being the biggest update for the game thus far, Niantic has introduced new creatures to the game previously. Second generation Pokémon first made an appearance in December of 2016 in the form of “baby Pokémon,” which were pre-evolutions of existing creatures, including Pikachu, Magmar and Jynx, which have the pre-evolutions Pichu, Magby, and Smoochum, respectively. These Pokémon were, and continue to be, only available by hatching eggs, which requires the player to walk a certain distance to hatch. While finding these specific Pokémon is hard due to the fact that an egg can contain almost any Pokémon, they became much easier to find during a New Year’s-themed event, where any egg found and hatched during this period would guarantee you one of these second generation monsters. And even before Johto Pokémon were added, Niantic updated the game’s stable of monsters slightly.

In fall of 2016, Ditto, a Pokémon with the ability to transform into any other species, was added with the caveat that it will initially appear as another species and will not reveal itself until captured by the player.

While this is the biggest update to Pokémon GO thus far, Niantic has committed to continuously updating the game, through promised features from trading and player-versus-player battles, to potentially adding even more monsters to the game. In fact, there are many Pokémon from the first two generations that still have not made an appearance, though many of these are “legendary” Pokémon that are extremely rare, so some speculate that eventually they will be released as an event of sorts. Either way, it’s an exciting time to go out and be a Pokémon trainer once again.

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