By: Hess Sahlollbey

Pokémon has always been about venturing out and searching for the those elusive little creatures. Whether you tried to collect your favorite cards or you just “gotta catch em all” on Nintendo’s Gameboy- that feeling of joy when we caught a new one kept us all hooked. Now with Pokémon GO, we have come even closer to feeling like a Pokémon trainer. Sadly the game does have a tutorial outside of a few messages at the start. If you are struggling to figure everything all out, don’t worry- I got your back, fellow Marauder.

Developed by Niantic for Android and iOS, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality, real world adventure game. Emphasis on real world adventure.

Exploring the World (or in our case, McMaster)

After logging into the game for the first time and creating your avatar, the game will find your present location using GPS and Google maps. Within a few seconds, Pokéstops started popping up for me to travel to and I was off. Pokéstops are what trainers need to find to stock up on supplies for their quest.

All of those cubes are Pokéstops. Approaching one of them activates it. Swipe left and right on the screen to collect all of the resources at that stop. Once you have them all, the cube will turn pink for five minutes before you can replenish again. You do not need to be standing right next to the icon, but you do need to be close enough for your phone to detect it. You will find the most Pokéstops with premium items in and around BSB, JHE, Mills library, Health Sciences Library and the Student Center. Stay clear of DBAC as there are not many stops around there.

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Capturing Pokémon:

As you walk around, Pokémon will appear on your screen. Tapping on one will then activate a sequence where you can try to capture that Pokémon.

The trick to capturing Pokémon is to wait for the circle on them to become as small as possible before throwing a Pokéball. If the ball is green, then the likelihood of success is higher too. Spinning your finger on the screen before releasing will also allow you to throw trick shots for bonus XP. As your level goes up, so will the level and the rarity of the Pokémon in the wild. One of the best hotspots on campus is in front of Togo Salmon Hall where you can find Jigglypuff and Koffing. Attaching a lure to a site, like in the picture on the left to the Nikola Tesla tree outside JHE, will draw out more Pokémon for you and anyone else around you too.
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McMaster sites of Interest:

Having already been a student at McMaster now for a couple of years, I know my way around campus pretty well. That all changed however as I started finding all the sites on campus significant enough to be deemed as Pokéstops. Soon I was discovering hidden terraces, gardens, statutes and sculptures in places I’ve overlooked and walked past dozens of times. Clicking the profile of the Pokéstops pulled up a brief description of the landmark that further increased my appreciation for the app and my little discovery. Often times, my favorite little discoveries on campus where statues or plaques that were hidden off of the beaten path. The same happened on James Street North when I started finding murals, monuments and plaques in places I have walked past countless times.

One of my favorite discoveries was the Chimeric figure outside of 1280. Thanks to the description of the site in Pokémon Go, I finally understand why there is a giant non-descript concrete tower in the middle of the patio area.

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Gyms and Combat:

When you reach level five, you’ll have the option of joining a team. Once you pick either red, blue or yellow it’s time to stake out your turf. Most of the gyms on campus are the major sites where lots of student congregate and lots of battles can occur. As of writing this, the Blue team has the most control but it will likely fluctuate as time goes on.

The major gyms right now are the McMaster Children’s Hospital, Health Sciences Library, the Engineering Technology Building and the Mohawk-McMaster Institute for Applies Health Sciences. If the gym is the same color as the team you belong to, you can assign a Pokémon to it to defend it. If it is a different color, you can battle to capture it. Battling is very simple: tap the screen to attack, swipe left and right to dodge and tap hold your finger against the screen to use your Pokémon’s special move. Remember that some Pokémon types and attacks are more effective than others! Once you have beaten all the Pokémon, you can assign a Pokémon of your own to defend that gym. The longer you defend that gym (about every 20 hours) the more prizes you can win.

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Levelling up:

To level up, choose the power up option. By paying in Stardust and Candy, your Pokémon’s Combat Power and health will go up. Catch more of the same Pokémon to collect more candies and level up faster. Pokémon that you no longer want can also be transferred to the Professor for an additional candy.

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Deciding when to level up can be hard, but know that you will be spending the same amount of Candy and Stardust to max out your Pokémon’s power. Make them evolve when it feels best for you and know that reaching the final level doesn’t always guarantee the most powerful Pokémon!

While it may not be officially released in Canada yet, I was surprised by the sheer number of players that I kept running into. Whether I approached people or they approached me, the only icebreaker needed to meet someone new was to simply ask them; “Pokémon?”. Over two dozen people responded to me enthusiastically and were quick to compare what they’ve caught, what team they’ve joined and any other strategies or tips they had. I’ve had more positive connections through this app than I have any other planned social event on campus. Gone are the days of wandering around the playground with my Gameboy and a Game Link Cable in hopes of meeting another gamer. Now, any person with a Smartphone is a rival and anyone can be Pokémon master in the works. Right now, trading and player-to-player battling is not featured by it was originally advertised in the September trailer, so we should expect this to happen at some point.

Pokémon Go might just be the best fitness/lifestyle app available right now. Over the past three days, I’ve walked 17 km across McMaster and James Street North and gained countless insight about landmarks that had been under my nose all along. It is important to note that in your quest to be the very best like no one ever was- the constant use of GPS could potentially consume a lot of data and put a heavy strain on your battery. To avert this, make sure to connect to Wi-Fi when possible and to have a portable battery on hand if you’re planning on going on any extended excursions. It is also imperative to make sure you are alert of your present surroundings to avoid walking into anything or falling. Stay safe out there and good luck!

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