If You Didn’t Catch Pikachu With a Christmas Hat…
You Have New Opportunities to Catch Him Wearing a
Birthday Hat Right Now…
Pikachu Turned 21 on Feb. 27th, 2017
Pikachu’s Birthday Celebration Began February 26th and goes until March 6th
What this means for Pokémon GO fans is that you can capture Pikachu wearing a Birthday Hat until March 6th. Here’s a link to Niantic’s announcement, with the full details.
Not only that, but you can watch the very first Pokémon movie for free…and several other popular Pokémon movies as well at Pokémon’s main website here. Incidentally, while this isn’t Pokémon GO news exactly, it may interest Pokémon fans in general. Pokémon.com also has several apps for viewing all of their Pokémon related media here if you use an Android, ios or Amazon Fire device.
On February 27th, aka Pikachu’s Birthday, Gamestop reported that the PokémonGo mobile app has surpassed 650 million downloads!
More Exciting News for People Who’ve Grown Bored with the Pokémon GO Game
If you’ve grown bored with Pokémon GO and quit playing the game, then you’ll want to know that Niantic’s recently made some major upgrades to the game…I know, you’ve heard this all before right?
But this time I’m serious…this is major news!
On February 15th Niantic’s posted the news that 80 new Pokémon from the Johoto region were going to be released into the wild later that week. You can read more about that and watch their video here. Just to be clear, both links in the last sentence go to versions of the same information, but one is for Android users and the other for ios.
In that same post they told us that there would be new evolution items found at Pokestops for Pokémon from the Kanto region that in their current form couldn’t be evolved. The new evolutions would turn them into Pokémon from the Johoto region. But from all reports these new evolution items are extremely rare and hard to find.
There are also two new berries with some new twists to them. The original Razz berry helps players catch high CP Pokémon by sort of taming them, making them easier to catch. Now added to the mix are Nanab berries which help to slow down fast Pokémon and Pinab berries which will double the amount of candy you earn when you catch a Pokémon.
News About Tracking Pokémon in the Game
In late November Niantic finally fixed, or actually added a completely new tracking mechanism back into the game. This had been a source of frustration for players for a very long time. What’s also been a source of frustration is that user experiences playing the Pokémon GO game vary drastically depending upon whether or not you live in an urban area or a more rural one. The two topics are closely intertwined.
The Controversy Surrounding Urban Players’ Advantages Over Rural Players
Sadly, controversy regarding the new tracking mechanism in Pókemon GO has grown even more with the new version. One reason is because it’s made the urban versus rural disparity even greater…which doesn’t seem like what the game developer’s had intended. This may appear to be an insignificant issue, but trust me it’s not! That’s because the way Niantic has oriented the tracking now has ended up impacting a much larger user base than one would think. Basically anyone who lives in a newer suburb of a major city will typically fall into the ‘rural’ category!
I speak from experience. I live in a huge suburb of a very large city…but according to Pókemon GO’s tracking system…I’m in an area too rural to be allowed to use it!
There are many theories about why Niantic developed the tracking system in this manner. Among them one early conjecture that’s come to fruition is explained well in this Forbe’s article…the answer appears to be profit motivated.
Kotaku.com also wrote a really insightful article about these ‘rural versus urban’ differences as they relate to the new tracking mechanism here. Embedded in this article is a video by the popular YouTuber Nick creator of Trainer Tips. The video is pretty long, and there are parts that can be fast forwarded through…like when they are driving…but his insights into Niantic’s motivation behind their new tracking system as well as his other great insights, make this one long video worth watching imo.
There are even more disparities in the game than just those. To make up for some of these inequalities a lot of app developer’s created tracking apps for finding Pokémon in the wild (also in part because the game’s tracking feature was nonfunctional for such a long period of time.) When Niantic’s finally brought back functionality for tracking in the app in late November, they went on a bit of a rampage against these developers demanding that most of those apps be taken down.
Kotaku.com’s more recent article highlights for players some of the apps that still remained functioning after that rampage.
Pokémon GO Plus
A new device came out in the fall that also addresses the tracking issue. It was created by Nintendo, and it’s called Pokémon GO Plus. It’s a standalone device about the size of a quarter (but thicker,) that aids in both tracking and capturing wild Pokémon. It’s also quite adept at gathering items and hatching eggs.
Nintendo and Niantic began hyping Pokémon GO Plus around the same time that the Go game went live. They promised a delivery date months before it finally really was available. Apparently there were a lot of manufacturing delays. Once it did become available it seemed like Japan, Pokémon’s home country, had many more units available than the United States market did. To my knowledge, Gamestop had been designated as the only ‘official’ retailer in the U.S. For several months Gamestop only sold the Plus in stores…not online. But finding one available at a Gamestop was extraordinarily difficult.
Which is why many Americans, myself included, went the route of buying one at a higher price from an Amazon third-party seller. This alternative was beset with problems and controversy. Some sellers were, and a few still are scalping the Plus at ridiculously high prices. In general now most sellers from both Japan and the U.S. appear to be selling it with about a $10 markup. But today, even that is unnecessary. While writing this I decided to check out current availability again and was surprised to find that the Plus is now available much more readily than even a month and a half ago.
Current Pokémon GO Plus Availability in the United States
GameStop now sells it online for the standard retail price of $34.99
I was surprised to see that it’s also available at Walmart for the same price.
If you have problems finding it there’s this pretty cool website called NowInStock which some brilliant person created as a way to earn affiliate commissions while providing a much-needed service too. It’s a truly brilliant concept! I have no idea how they manage to keep all of the products that they track up-to-date. You can check availability of many different products here, saving yourself a lot of time. If you go to one of their sources and purchase something, the site creator will earn a very tiny (we’re talking cents here) commission (which in no way impacts the price you pay.)
Read the Review Linked to Below If You Want an Extremely Thorough & Concise Overview of Pókemon GO Plus
Gaming.fit wrote an excellent review of the Plus on Amazon. It gives the most concise overview, from start to finish, for using it. This review highlights one specific scenario where using the Plus presents a clear advantage. I’ve modified and reworded that portion somewhat below.
The Pokémon GO Plus is Especially Helpful if You Live or Work Right At a PokéStop
If you happen to live or work right on top of a PokeStop, you can quietly collect Pokémon and items all day long without anyone being the wiser.
It also works great with lures in this situation. The instant a new Pokémon appears or the PókeStop is ready to give you more items, your device will vibrate to let you know. (Citation: Gaming.fit’s Amazon review)
Overall I think the PokémonGo Plus is really a neat device! If you end up getting one you may benefit from watching my YouTube video which demonstrates how to attach it to the included wristband.
The Best Reasons to Use the PokémonGo Plus
Probably the single most useful aspect of using the Pokémon GO Plus is that it preserves your phone battery. That’s because you can lock your phone or use other apps and still not miss out on nearby Pokémon, or Pokéstops (all while accruing mileage too!) While the Plus isn’t great for actually capturing Pokémon, it is excellent at notifying you when new Pokémon appear. Many people report that the Plus provides earlier notifications for new Pokémon appearances than the cell phone apps do. I concur.
Combine that with the added flexibility of playing the game so unobtrusively that someone standing right next to you need never know that you’re playing…makes this device a clear winner in my book!
PokemonGo’s Video Introducing the 80 New Pokémon
How the Plus Compares to Apple Watch
I know that Apple Watch is supposed to do all of the same things…and that is true, sort of. I have both alternatives available but I prefer the Plus for 2 main reasons.
First, I have the Series 1 Watch. Overtime my Watch battery life has degraded. I rely on my watch to tell time and to give me important notifications, so I don’t usually want to run down the battery with Pokémon GO. Currently, without playing the game or using it to track a work out, my battery only lasts 3/4’s of a the day.
Second is the fact that the Plus is better than the Watch is at recognizing new appearances of Pokémon. It also seems to me to be more accurate recording my mileage, which results in hatching eggs and finding new Buddy candy faster.
Watch does offer one significant advantage. It has a screen. So you can actually see what’s occurring just like you would if you were using the phone app! But with that advantage comes the same speed limitations. Overall the Plus allows game play at a slightly faster speed, which can sometimes make a difference. Until you become familiar with the somewhat complex series of colored light and vibration signals, I’ve been successful using this simpler strategy: When in doubt just to tap on the button. I can immediately see the effect of my action by waking up my phone. If I can’t right then, then later I can go into my game journal and see what transpired.
More Interesting Information & News
I have a few more items I want to include before I go.
If you’re interested in learning more about the chronology of event and history of the Pokémon franchise, Comic Books Now has written a short, but interesting article.
Apparently when the latest version of the game was released…the one in which all the new Pokémon appear…many players began experiencing a major glitch with the game…similar to the dreaded ‘blue screen of death’ Window’s user’s fear. Here’s BGR’s advice and one solution.
A writer at Forbes has written a compelling piece on why Niantic should consider getting rid of Stardust completely. I sort of agree with him.