Though the game was familiar, the way to play it was very different. When you encountered a wild Pokémon, you wouldn’t battle it. You’d skip to the capturing part by throwing a Pokéball at it. (You are, however, able to engage in gym battles.)

The reason for this change is that gamers aren’t sitting on a couch hunched over a Gameboy; they’re out and about. Pokémon Go is based on another popular Niantic game called Ingress, which encourages players to explore the real world. On Pokémon Go, virtual Pokéstops shown on the screen direct people to nearby landmarks and other points of interests. In this way, Pokémon Go is as much a game as a travel guide, even if you’re only exploring your backyard.

pokemon go nintendo
The dreaded screen
Image: Screenshot

Though I hate using my phone while walking, I felt the game’s concept was in line with the original Pokémon titles. Replaying Pokémon Blue two decades later, I’ve found a new appreciation for its slow pace. It’s possible to speed through Pokémon in less than two hours, but the point is to discover your surroundings by reading every sign, stopping to talk to every character, and entering every open door so you can piece together the parts of the puzzle before advancing to the next problem. For example, in Pokémon Blue, you travel the Celadon City-Lavender Town-Vermillion City area, so you can retrieve the Silph Scope from Team Rocket, which is needed to obtain the Pokéflute from the haunted Pokémon Tower, which then lets you wake the Snorlax blocking the road to your next destination.

But in Pokémon Go, I didn’t explore. I didn’t catch Pokémon. Hell, I could barely get the game to load.

Instead, I repeatedly got the following message: “Our servers are experiencing issues. Please come back later.”

I wasn’t the only one. In fact, @PokemonGoHub, a Twitter account reporting updates on the status of Pokémon Go servers, racked up 125,000 followers less than two days after the game’s launch. (A PSA from the account: “Don’t waste time checking a million times if the server is back. Let us waste ours. Turn on our notifications and we got you. #PokemonGo.”)

I almost caught a Bulbasaur, the cute plant-based Pokémon that can attack by extending vines from its back. I almost caught a Charmander, a fire-breathing creature that also happens to be my all-time favorite Pokémon. I almost got an item at a Pokéstop at my office building, a historical site in San Francisco.

pokemon go nintendo
Image: Screenshot

But the game crashed each time. Instead, I’m searching Twitter and growing envious of everybody sharing photos of their new Pokémon and achievements.

Here’s a summary of the problems I encountered:

pokemon go nintendo
Not saved.
Image: Screenshot

It’s normal for kinks to accompany new products, but Niantic and the Pokémon Company were vastly underprepared for this launch. Though the game shot up to the top of the App Store, it’s clear Pokémon Go is simply not ready for primetime.

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