Pokémon GOIn case you've been living under a rock for the last couple of months, or you somehow managed to skip the 90's and early 2000's, Pokémon Go is a new, popular mobile application (or, as Google puts it, a free-to-play location-based, augmented reality game developed by Niantic for iOS and Android devices) that allows you to wander through nature capturing Pokémon and hatching Poké eggs. No idea what a Pokémon is? Well, allow me (a child of the 90's) to explain. (No seriously, where have you been this entire time? Saturn? The Moon? No worries, we'll get you caught up).

"Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 and today is one of the most popular children's (pff, children's) entertainment properties in the world." Its creator Satoshi Tajiri (an extremely talented man who also happens to be autistic) was inspired by his childhood love of catching insects and tadpoles around his suburban home in Tokyo.  He decided to create a game where others could also have fun "catching" various creatures out in the wild, and so Pokémon Red and Green* were born. These games were created for the Nintendo Game Boy system in Japan and released on February 27, 1996, making Tajiri's dream come true. These games allowed people of all ages (see: all ages, not just for kids) to catch, train and trade the 151 creatures that he and his amazing team of nerds had created!

Pokémon were born.

Pokémon trading card

Later that year, a Pokémon trading card game became available, and soon to follow were mangas, comics, and an anime series. The show was named after the adorable creatures themselves.

The games and the show were so popular in Japan that they were soon released in Europe and North America (1998). The showR17;s main character was named after Satoshi himself, which was later changed to "Ash Ketchum" for the English versions. Ash and his band of friends (both human and Pokémon alike) travel their way through the lands looking for gym leaders to battle and Pokémon to capture and train. Ash's dream is to become "the very best, like no one ever was" and the catchy theme song to the show was sure to be heard in living rooms across the nation by the early 2000's. The show thrived, and it continues to do so; there have been numerous seasons, movies, and spin-offs, each with their own unique touch, but with Ash and Pikachu (Ash's first Pokémon and by far one of the most popular Pokémon in existence) at their center.

More games were released, each with their own unique generation of Pokémon.  Soon people everywhere dreamed about the day that they, too, could become Pokémon MastersR30;. and low and behold, that day is here.

Pokémon Go is the application allowing us all to fulfill our childhood dream of becoming a Pokémon master. Here's how it works:

After downloading the application onto your phone, you can create your avatar; the options for avatars are currently limited, but you can slightly customize your outfit, hair and eye color.

Then, you choose your first Pokémon! The choices in the game are much the same as they were for Ash in the first episode of the show: Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, and the unexpected Pikachu (though there's a trick to getting the last one: don't choose any of the first three repeatedly).

Then, you're off! Out into the world you must wander (yes, literally) in order to find rare and exciting Pokémon for your collection (or, you know, five thousand common Pokémon, that works too).

The game is currently limited to the original 151 Pokémon, but there has been some talk of expanding it to include later generations.

I know, I know, now you're asking me: but how do we catch Pokémon? With Pokéballs of course! What are Pokéballs? Well...this is a Pokéball:

Pokéballs

It's where your Pokémon lives when it's not out wandering around with you or battling other Pokémon.
(Pokémon battle to gain experience and level up!) What happens if you run out of Pokéballs? No problem, you can get more at Pokéstops.

Pokéstops are placed at various monuments and historical landmarks around the world, so you're bound to find at least a few in your local area. All you have to do is walk up to the Pokéstop and spin the Pokésign. Who knows, you might actually learn something about the real world while you're at it. Pokéstops don't only give you more Pokéballs though, they're also the only place where you can get revives and healing sprays (to heal up your Pokémon after battle) and Poké eggs. That's right, you can't just catch Pokémon, you can hatch them too!

Pokémon eggs will hatch once you've walked a certain distance, in real life, while playing the game. There are 2 KM, 5 KM and 10 KM eggs and the further you walk, the rarer the Pokémon you'll hatch.

Once you reach level five in the game, you'll be asked to choose a team. The options are: Team Mystic, Team Valor or Team Instinct. Who doesnR17;t love a little bit of friendly competition? Don't know which team to pick? Let me introduce you to some of the players:


Team Mystic (Blue)

Team Leader: Blanche

Motto:

"The wisdom of Pokémon is immeasurably deep. I am researching why it is that they evolve. With our calm analysis of every situation we can´t lose!"

Player: Melissa

"I´m team Mystic, and I chose it because when I hit level 5 all the gyms around me were blue, so I decided that they were tough kids and that I´d roll with them--plus, leader Blanche is pretty cool."

"My earliest Pokémon memory is actually not the game or the show- -though I was obsessed with both- -but begging my dad to buy me packs of the R18;Team Rocket´ card packs because the Pokémon art was so gorgeous. I had a red binder with Pikachu on the cover where I kept all the cards and used to drag it out to play with my friends at recess. I was also super into the Pokémon Snap game for the N64, which Pokémon Go really takes me back to with the app´s ability to snap Pokémon photos. The first Pokémon game I played was Pokémon Yellow, because I was so excited that Pikachu followed you around and you could talk to him. But my best Pokémon in the game was a level 93 Pidgiot named Gust. I loved him like a son. When I restarted my game I traded him to a friend for safe keeping, and she restarted her game and deleted him. I lost a child that day. My favourite thing about Pokémon Go is the level of challenge it provides. It´s not easy to catch them all, and I love that. I´ve spent whole days adventuring and I´ve still only caught a measly 62. I would only consider myself an intermediate player, but after so many weeks I´m still motivated to drain my battery getting out there and trying to catch or evolve something new. My favourite experience would probably be the first time I held a gym. I took it and managed to hold it for 9 days. I was so very proud of myself, my Hypno, and my 90 defender bonus coins."

"My favourite Pokémon is Growlithe, and I still haven´t caught him. I saw his shadow once, but I couldn´t track him down. When I do there will definitely be a happy dance, onlookers or no! My favourite and highest CP Pokémon is my Flareon. Her name is Lady, and she´s sitting at 1021CP."


Team Valor (Red)

Team Leader: Candela

Motto:

"Pokémon are stronger than humans, and they-re warmhearted too! I-m researching ways to enhance Pokémon-
s natural power in the pursuit of true strength. There- s no doubt that the Pokémon our team have trained are the strongest in battle!"

Player: Lystian

"I chose Team Valor to play with myfriends and the team lines up more with my thoughts on Pokémon." "First memory: reading the comic in a Nintendo power on a school field trip before Red and Blue were released in the states. I have played since the very first day. (In regards to Pokémon GO, the) App: I love it in general and being able to catch almost any Pokémon is awesome. My favorite Pokémon of the first 151
is Pidgey and all of its evolutions. I-ve definitely caught it! My highest Pokémon is an 1800ish Lapras I hatched from an egg."

Lielsl

"Hello everyone, I thought I'd introduce myself too, I'm Team Valor. I chose team Valor because I think Pokémon are strong, and kind hearted too, just like Candela."

"My earliest memory is of me watching Pokémon, the show, at my friendR17;s house when I was in elementary school, possibly even Kindergarten. I had no idea what Pokémon was and my friend, who had a Gameboy, told me all about it. I'd play on her Gameboy whenever I could and we'd watch Pokémon together in her living room. She's always been an amazing artist and she taught me how to draw anime characters and Pikachu!"

"I haven't had a lot of time to play the game yet but I think it's pretty amazing! I also started re-watching the original show, which is available on Netflix.
My favorite catch so far is my Seel. He's not very strong, but he sure is cute."


Team Instinct (Yellow)

Team Leader: Spark

Motto:

"Pokémon are creatures with excellent intuition. I bet the secret to their intuition is related to how they're hatched. You never lose when you trust your instincts!"

Player: Becka

"I chose Team Instinct initially because I just liked Yellow the most, now I'm kind of digging the childish stereotype that has gone with because I feel like I am still a child inside so most of it is really entertaining for me."

"My earliest Pokémon memory is watching the show whenever it came on. I also remember my gamer cousin playing it on his game boy color.  I was an aspiring vet at that age so seeing a twist on animals was amazing to me. My favorite part about the app are the pokestops. I love seeing what they are and finding quirky parts of a village or city that may have been missed before."

"My favorite experience is going to my friends village one night and literally spending the whole night walking around his village. My other favorite is going to the park in that same village. There is a gorgeous duck pond with pokestops on each end so we can just make laps, watch the fish and ducks, while hatching eggs and catching Pokémon."

"My favorites are oddish and rapidash. I have caught an oddish; they're so cute! However a ponyta or rapidash have eluded me. My highest powered Pokémon is a Lapras I hatched from a 10km egg."

Well, that about sums it up. Believe it or not, there are quite a few things I didn't explain about the game (like what a lucky egg is (helps you gain XP) or what incense or lures are (they bring Pokémon to your location or to Pokéstops) what holding a gym means (having strong Pokémon and getting coins), how coins work, how to fight gym battles, or that Pokémon need candy to level up and evolve-yes, Pokémon evolve) but you'll just have to find out the rest for yourself! This is an amazing game, giving people a wonderful excuse to get outside and get some fresh air. It can allow us to gap generational bridges (go have fun, play with your kids or your grandkids), build stronger communities and make new friends. 

Lastly, as the game states in its opening screen, be careful of your surroundings when playing, don't trespass, don't walk out into oncoming traffic, and don't disrespect people. I don't care how high of a CP that Pikachu has, look both ways when crossing the street, don't play and drive(!), or walk into glass doors-you catch my drift. Be safe, and don't ruin the game for others just because you forgot to use your common sense. If we work together, we can all be the very best, like no one ever was...

To find out more about Pokémon in general, visit the following websites:  http://www.Pokémon.com/us/about-Pokémon/

http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Main_Page

To learn about, or download the app, head to:
http://www.pokemongo.com/

Do you play Pokémon GO? What is your favorite Pokémon? Send us screen shots at:

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to be featured online or in our next article!

I wish you all happy hunting!
Lielsl out!
#Team Valor #Team Lugia Alliance

*When the games were released in the U.S. Pokemon Green was changed to Pokemon Blue

pictures©2016 Pokémon/Nintendo