Pokemon GO Redux

Last summer, I wrote about our experience with Pokemon GO. We’ve kept it up for the last year and it’s provided a lot of fun moments for me and Abby. There’ve been those rare occasions when we spotted and caught a rare creature. We had a lot of fun in Australia using my father-in-law’s phone as a hot spot to chase down the Australian regional Pokemon (and Generation 2 was released at that time, which made for a blast). But the game was starting to become a bit of a grind as we’d captured almost everything and both gotten past level 30, where the game levels off.

Recently, Niantic made some major revisions to the game. The changes to the gym system — where you can place Pokemons to fight those of other players — still needs a lot of tweaking. But the other change — the inception of raids where a massively powerful Pokemon appears in a neighborhood gym and can only be fought by players joining together — is a home run. It may now be the best aspect of the game.

The first day, we found a raid going on in a local park. We went to the park and, within minutes, a dozen other players had arrived and we fought with them to break down an exceedingly powerful creature. Later on, we went onto campus and joined a raid with a few biochemistry graduate students. We’ve been doing raids almost every day — sometimes just the two of us and sometimes with big teams of players who emerge from the woodwork. It’s just fun to cooperate with other players and see a dozen or more varied creatures attacking a massive one.

Today, though, we had the most fun experience. We spotted a nearby raid and came over. When we got there, there were two little boys trying to take down a Lapras — an exceedingly powerful creature. This particular monster can not be taken down by two players, no matter how good they are. You need at least five, preferably more. So we joined in and one other person happened by and, together, we finished the Lapras off just within the three-minute time limit. The boys were delighted and their dad was glowing.

Making another family’s day is a unique experience for a video game. And I hope that other games follow in those footsteps.