Remember Pikachu? Well he’s back. He’s standing in the square outside a museum. And he wants to fight.
Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game that’s the closest thing to real-life Poké battles you’re likely to encounter. It’s rolling out across the world at present, and it’s likely to be available in the UK in hours if not days.
The game has cropped up in thew news several times in recent days - but not always for pleasant reasons. Stories include a player finding a body while she was out taking part, and armed robbers using the app to lure victims to an isolated attack spot.
Here’s how Pokemon Go works: with the game downloaded on an iPhone and Android phone, you walk around. Whether you’re walking somewhere you need to go or you’re just walking around to play Pokemon is up to you.
Reality as viewed through your phone screen is almost – but not quite – the same as it is with your bare eyes. There are Pokemon around and you, as you were doubtless programmed to know as a child, have “gotta catch ’em all”.
If there’s one “nearby”, your phone will buzz. Time to catch it by throwing a Poke ball (on your phone, not in reality).
But certain Pokemon stick to their native environments – you’ll only find some water-type Pokemon by the sea, for example – so there’s a limit to how far you can get by just walking to Tesco and back the long way.
Strangely, early reports seem to claim that you can catch Magikarp, a famously useless fish Pokemon, by pointing your phone at your toilet. More dangerous creatures might require a day trip.
“PokeStops”, where you can buy items, are located at “interesting” locations such as museums and monuments, according to Nintendo, which also makes Pokemon Go a good way to see the world.
But what about the battles? They’re the fun part, right? Well, the competition aspect of the game is similar to Ingress, a previous augmented reality game. When you reach a certain level, you are assigned a faction – and a colour. The goal, then, is to turn “gyms” – locations across the real world map – your colour by winning battles there.
Ingress has proved dangerous in the past. A 48-year-old Irishman called Frank Maxwell died in 2015 while walking down a pier in Dublin at 2.30am, apparently looking at his phone and attempting to undo some work done by a rival faction.
This seems like a worry in a game that’s likely to attract children – so make sure you keep an eye on the traffic when you’re chasing that elusive Mew.