By now you should at least have heard about Pokémon GO, the augmented reality (AR) app that is taking the world by storm.
Just in case you have been living under a rock for the last week, Pokémon GO is a AR-enabled phone app in which you chase after Pokémon, catch them, and then battle other trainers for territory and more Pokémon.
So how do you become the best Pokémon trainer ever? Well, we have created a list of tips and tricks to help you with your goal of world domination. The information might not make you a world champion, but it should put you in on the right path to Poke-glory (you’re fired – ed.)!
Download the Pokémon GO game
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, the most important part of the game. While the game isn’t officially available in South Africa just yet, we do have a guide on how to install the Android and iOS versions. It doesn’t involve side-loading and you will go through the legitimate market places – and avoid downloading malware in the process.
Footprints in the sand
After creating a character, you are free to roam the world in search of the little critters.
At some point you will be alerted that a basic Pokémon are nearby, represented by a silhouette of the characters and a set of footprints. The amount of prints underneath a Pokémon will tell you how close you are to it: three will be about 300m, two will be 200m and one set of prints will be roughly 100m.
You are dealing with a radius around your starting location, so it doesn’t matter in which direction you walk – just keep an eye on the distances, and adjust accordingly.
If you tap on a Pokémon in the ‘Nearby’ section and leave the menu open, it will track that creature. Also, the grid works in a zig-za, so a Pokémon in the top-left corner of the grid is very close, and one in the bottom-right, is the furthest away.
Once you encounter a Pokémon, you have to throw Pokéballs to catch them. What many players don’t know, is that if you miss after throwing a ball, you can retrieve the lost ball by tapping on it. It is somewhat difficult to get right, but it can be done.
It’s not all about the AR
Finding it kind of hard to catch all the Pokémon, all the time? Well, here is a simple trick that is going to make life a lot easier for you.
As mentioned, the game uses your real-time environment to spawn Pokémon, meaning that they can appear on desks, on cups or other awkward position when viewed through your phone’s camera.
But, if you turn AR off in the top-right corner, it will force the game to display the Pokémon in the dead-centre of your screen, making it a lot easier to catch.
Save on your data and battery
Since you’ll have your phone constantly open, the screen on and the data connection running, Pokemon GO sucks battery hellishly.
Luckily there are some ways to continue playing that game and reducing your battery consumption at the same time.
The game makes use of Google Maps, so the first step is to download the offline maps for your city. This way, the app already has all the data that it needs, and doesn’t need to download it from the net as you go along.
Also, iPhone users can go to Settings>General and turn ‘Background App Refresh’ off. That, any other apps won’t use your data while you are out hunting.
It is also a good idea to get a rather inexpensive portable battery charger.
Join a team, roll together
Once you reach Level 5, you can choose between the Red, Blue or Yellow team. Globally, team scores are tallied to determine which team is the best in the world, but there are other advantages to that as well.
If you do battle for a Poke-Gym, not only will you become the owner of that gym, but you also claim it for your team.
But there is also a bit of a side-hack to roaming the land with people from other teams. Once you have captured a gym, somebody from an opposing faction can capture it from you. If you them take the gym back from them, you will generate a bit more XP for yourself. Repeat the process, and you will level up pretty fast. That way, you also don’t have to wait for another trainer to challenge you to the ownership of the gym.
Really do try to catch them all
It is going to seem like a mundane task, but it really will be to your benefit if you catch all the Pokémon that come your way – even the common ones.
The reason for this is that you can trade them in at the Professor for Pokémon-specific candy. This candy – and Stardust – is used to level up and evolve your Pokémon.
As Trusted Reviews explain: “if you’ve got an abundance of Pidgeys, you should immediately figure out which one of them is the most powerful by seeing which has the highest CP score and the highest-rated attacks. Once you know which one you’re going to keep, select the first Pidgey you want to transfer, scroll down to the bottom of the menu that pops up, and tap ‘Transfer’.”
Are you feeling lucky, egg?
Every now and again the game become a generous giving-machine, and it might gift you with a lucky egg when you reach Level 8. In short, these eggs are magical creations that will double all the XP you get for 30 minutes.
Since it is time-specific, you’ll want to do the most that you can within that time frame in order to push up your level as high as possible.
So this is what you are going to do: before kicking off the timer, make sure that you have a lot of Pokémon to evolve, a healthy amount of Stardust, a Lure Module or Incense if possible, and naturally some Pokéballs to throw around. Oh, and it will be hugely beneficial to be close to a PokeStop or a gym.
Once you start the egg’s timer, drop the lure on the PokeStop and start evolving your Pokémon – netting you double XP. Because you dropped the lure, catch all the Pokémon that come your way – and you’ll also get double XP for that.
If you have any time left on the lucky egg, head to the gym and start a battle for possession. If you manage to win, you’ll also get double XP for that too.
Advanced users: if you want even more XP while hunting, try throwing a curve ball (which is more XP than a normal one). To do this, simply hold on the Pokéball and make a rotating motion until it sparkles. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it, but combined with the Lucky Egg, its once again double XP.
Short on time, do a drive-by
PokeStops are a great place to meet other Pokemon hunting people, but the Stops also function as a location where you can stock up on various things. Developer Niantic and Nintendo do need to make money somehow, so you can get more PokeBalls or Incense from there with real-world money.
PokeStops are a great way to get free stuff, but what if you are short on time? Well, do a drive-by – approach, activate, get stuff and leave.
Generally, when approaching a Stop, you need to tap on it to zoom in, swipe as fast as you can on the picture, and get your goodies. You can do this around every five minutes, for as long as you want.
But What Culture explains best on how to do a drive-by: “Due to how every item and element of progress is synched with Niantic’s servers, after you’ve set the picture disk spinning, simply hit the ‘X’ quit button and any requisite items will automatically be added to your inventory, meaning you don’t have to wait for the animation to stop.”
But you need to be aware though that you have a limit to the amount of things that you can carry. So before entering a Stop, make sure you have enough space. Throw out some revives or potions if you don’t battle often.
Start off with Pikachu
Even if you don’t know what Pokémon is, most people can recognise the little iconic character Pikachu from a mile off. When you start the game for the first time, you have the choice of three starter characters: Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur. But no Pikachu?
Well, it turns out that there is actually a way to get the little critter from the start.
When you get to the point where Professor Willow you to catch your first Pokémon, walk away (in real life) until your phone vibrates and the starters reappear.
If you do this enough times, Pikachu eventually spawns in place of the three starters.
We’ll add more Tips and Tricks to this article as they become apparent.