A Rattata sighting in CoSchedule’s office and a Pidgey making its home in a cup of 20 Below coffee can only mean one thing: Pokémon GO has been released and the world is forever changed.
With the much anticipated release of Pokémon GO for iOS and Android, Fargo and cities around the globe are now giant playing fields for catching, battling and training the beloved little creatures known as Pokémon.
The augmented-reality game means that you can play wherever you are, and your phone uses the camera to project Pokémon in front, beside and behind you. It’s the product of the masterminds at the Pokémon Company and developers of the successful augmented reality game, Ingress.
Pokémon GO trainers can capture up to 100 Pokémon which you encounter by moving throughout your city. Your smartphone will vibrate when you’re near a Pokémon, and you can then take aim and throw Pokéball to catch it. The type of Pokémon will vary from city to city, even country to country. That’s right, the world is now a Pokémon realm.
Many trainers congregate at Pokémon gyms, or locations where you can battle and level up your Pokémon. Hot spots, or Poké stops, are crowd sourced around public art installations, historical markers and monuments where you can collect more Pokéballs and other items.
In the past 48+ hours since the game was released, the city of Fargo has come alive with Pokémon enthusiasts. Already a group called the FM Pokémon GO players has formed on Facebook, and currently has over 130 members. A local Dairy Queen even responded to the madness with a sign, shown in the feature photo, stating that “Pokemon are for paying customers only.” [Edit: Turns out this was a photoshop from Reddit, original photo here. Still funny tho.]
One Fargo Pokémon GO trainer said that he’s found Poké stops at nearly every painted bison in downtown Fargo.
“There’s a lot of cool looking things that you would normally pass or ignore which the game then has you visit,” says Pokémon GO enthusiast Jake Kohl. “[The game] makes exploring more fun and intuitive.”
So long as the servers keep up and don’t leave you stranded in the middle of a game…
We asked Kohl, who says he’s caught around 200 Pokémon and has 35 in his Pokédex, about what he’s seeing in Fargo.
Pokémon Gyms in Downtown Fargo:
So far Kohl has found gyms at the Fargo Civic Center, the First Lutheran Church, The Uptown Gallery, The Water Tower (the one by Great Northern and Aladdin’s), NDSU Barry Hall, the parking lot between NDSU renaissance building and Old Broadway, and in the gazebo at Island Park.
Where do the good Pokémon go to hideaway?
Kohl says he’s found Bulbasaurs in Lindenwood park, a Squirtle by 20 Below, and an Electabuzz at Gooseberry park. Otherwise, it’s mostly Pidgeys, Spearows, Ratatta’s, Weedles, and other common Pokémon.
“I’ve heard rumors of Blastoise’s by Nemzek Swimming Center,” he said. “It appears other pokemon come and go in the same area, so you’re not guaranteed a static set in one location. It seems to be changing pretty constantly.”
There’s also been sightings of Evee’s in the kitchen of Sazerac Alley, according to Pokemon GO trainer Cody Gerszewski. He also stated that he heard “if you push over the truck that’s parked on Broadway and 4th, there’s a Mew underneath it.”
Meanwhile, this Venonat tried out coworking at the Prairie Den.
Initial feedback — good, bad?
The main complaint with the game so far, besides that it drains your battery and uses up data, is that servers are down. However, that’s to be expected with a new game with a lot of attention, Kohl says.
“I think once the ‘regulars’ are a bit more established and the early-adopters who play for a short period of time stop playing, the servers will be able to better handle the traffic,” he said.
Overall the game has arrived with great success, Kohl said. The gym system seems to be working, and rivalries are already being formed around certain areas of the city. So far there appear to be three teams: Team Valor (Red), Yellow, and Blue.
For old Pokémon enthusiasts who grew up playing the game on Gameboys, Pokémon GO is reminiscent of bygone times; of walking around to 8-bit music with a red and white ball in hand and not a care in the world. Perhaps that’s why the game has full grown adults wandering around cities for hours at a time. Kohl said he biked for three hours around Fargo-Moorhead last night searching for Pokémon — and loved it.
“The game has brought back a childhood joy for me I had when playing Pokémon for the first time, which has been awesome,” he said.
As Pokémon trainers begin their journeys across the globe, one thing is clear; only time will tell who will be the very best. Truly, the best there ever was.
Feature photo by Don Bitzan.