Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: while waiting at Indianapolis International Airport for our (delayed) flight to Manhattan, I downloaded Pokemon Go as an amusing experiment just to see what would happen. Three weeks later, I’m still toying around, curious to see how much longer it’ll take me to get bored with it and move on. Yep, that should happen any week now.
My son watched the show in his youth, but I’ve never sat still for an entire episode. From what I’ve seen, Team Rocket were the true stars and the only real reason to watch. Maps, on the other hand, as a concept have fascinated me since childhood. Upon realizing Pokemon Go is basically Google Maps game-itized, I’ve been hooked ever since. So far I remain amused despite the flaws, most of which the guys at Smosh Games captured exactly right this week in their latest Honest Game Trailer.
(This also wasn’t the first PokeStop I found fitted with an outdated photo. A Time to Kill closed years ago. Google might want to send their crews out to catch some fresh pics.)
I tried not to overindulge the app while on our family vacation, though I did check a few places here and there while we were waiting in lines or otherwise disengaged from each other in between tourist hot spots. Pokemon Go overran my Twitter timeline (thanks to people I follow as well as my own sporadic thoughts), popped up on the morning news more than once, earned a mention on that episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert we attended, and generally became America’s Next Big Thing. Old folks like me may be helping rush it toward uncool obsolescence more quickly, and for that I slightly apologize.
(Weeks after that last status, I finally located the “Transfer” button on each Pokemon’s profile that lets me trade them to “the Professor” in exchange for candy to feed my remaining Pokemon minions. I trust the Professor treats my abandoned losers well and isn’t using them as lab animals for torturous experiments. Then again, I don’t even know the Professor’s name, so exactly why am I trusting him?)
Now that I’m back home, moderation of this temporary new pastime has come easily because there’s not a single PokeStop or PokeGym within a four-block radius of our house. The closest PokeAnythings are at the graveyard seen above in the lead photo, all too far away for lazy interaction from here. Cemeteries are not the kind of place I care to frequent for leisure. I trust the actual funeral that was in progress this afternoon saw no interruptions from pesky neighbor kids unafraid of transgressing for the sake of a Flareon or whatever.
Meanwhile at work, I resolved never to play on the clock, though I do check in on my lunch break at the convenient PokeStop right outside. When someone’s dropped off a Lure Module, so much the better. I can’t prove anyone in my department is on board, but I’ve seen employees from other divisions playing on their phones, wandering the ground floor and waving their arms around like thirsty castaways with divining rods. I’ve found a few other PokeStops along my commute while idling at overlong stoplights or when trapped in endless gridlock (Indiana Avenue downtown is a veritable PokeVille), but I’m adult enough to know the first rule of Pokemon Go Club should be Don’t Catch Pokemon And Drive.
(Full disclosure: my car was parked when I took that photo. Honest!)
To this old guy one of the coolest things about the game is its locating and labeling of landmarks, special-interest businesses, artwork installations, and roadside attractions. Naturally NYC was covered in them, but downtown Indianapolis has surprised me with sculptures, murals, and plaques I’d never noticed before, till Pokemon Go brought them to my attention. If you pay attention to your surroundings and don’t get yourself mugged or arrested for trespassing, Pokemon Go can show you finer details of even more of your surroundings than you knew.
As you’ll note from the photos, not every PokeStop is someplace that’s cool. Or, in some cases, appropriate. Or safe.
Personal stats and performance trivia as of this writing:
* Caught over 100 total Pokemon but traded a dozen or more to “the Professor”, if that IS his real name
* Found 42 different Pokemon types, including a Pikachu and two Meowths
* Evolved three Pokemon by feeding them candy (Pidgey to Pidgeotto; Zubat to Golbat; and Rattata to Raticate, which is now weirdly my strongest Pokemon, which isn’t saying much)
* Hatched three PokeEggs by walking or “walking” the kilometers required for the Incubators to work
* Have gotten mixed results in trying to convince my Incubators that driving with the app turned on and my phone wedged in the cup holder where I can’t see or mess with it counts as walking (sometimes it works for a few blocks)
* Found my first Lucky Egg tonight, and only started finding Razz Berries within the past week
* Gotten three Pokemon K.O.’d at one of the PokeGyms inside LaGuardia before I swore off PokeGyms forever
* Have yet to find a single PokeGym controlled by Team Mystic or that other Hufflepuff-ish one
* Directly related: zero opportunities so far to see how Pokemon “training” goes
* Wish the app saved the names of all the PokeStops visited, not just the check-in times
* Frightened and confused several Facebook friends by posting about it
* Haven’t paid a single dime for extras and never will
I trust my wife will let me know if I lose perspective, if I don’t catch myself going overboard before she does, assuming I don’t give up before that happens. Setting aside the server overloads, connection outages, and other hardware issues, the innate gameplay deficiencies may be the eventual deal-breaker for me. Fighting is no fun unless you’ve caught or paid to evolve anything Godzilla-sized; playing is all but prohibited in small towns, suburbs, and artless commercial areas, especially if your phone carrier’s coverage doesn’t reach there; and I imagine the inconsistencies in Pokemon stats vex the Pokemon purists out there. Prime examples: I have a Meowth with 50 CP and a Pikachu with 11 CP. This is wrong. Team Rocket’s awesomeness aside, from a canonical standpoint any game in which a Meowth can outclass a Pikachu is deeply flawed and ultimately doomed to fail.