Counting Steps: Pokemon Go!

General info:

Official websiteWikipedia entry

  • Developed by: Niantic
  • Published by: Nintendo, Pokémon Company
  • Original release date: July 6th, 2016
  • Platforms: Android, iOS
  • Written in Unity

I was late to the game with Pokemon. My generation was in elementary school at the height of the Pokemon craze. From what I hear, it was a grand ole time. Due to some satanic-panic logic (that remains unclear to me) Pokemon was forbidden in my house, growing up.

In fact, that was the reason behind most prohibited activities of my childhood. No Casper. No Power Rangers. No Pokemon. All of that exclusion kept me away from the cool kids’ table. Nobody deserves to be bullied, but looking back, I wasn’t any of the things you usually see in kids that get picked on. Not being an obvious target wound up hurting me in the long run. “How could you get picked on? You’re the biggest kid in class!” I was. Eventually, I had to figure out how to get with it or get left in the dust. 

Not only was it banned at home, most of the disciplinary action I witnessed in grade school revolved around punishing kids for bringing Pokemon cards to school. That prohibition was my “in.” After confiscating a large quantity of Pokemon cards, teachers carelessly tossed the collection in one pile onto the floor. 

Predictably, there were dogpiles. Whatever lay on the floor was up for grabs. I was left out of the conversation, but I certainly overheard them. What 9 years old could resist the opportunity to brag about their 1st edition Charizard? Or their holographic Pikachu? The kids making fun of me gave away exactly which cards I should steal from them. With everyone’s eyes on the prize, nobody noticed the only kid in class who couldn’t play Pokemon joining the ambush. On a few occasions, I’d crawl out with quite the score. 

My brothers obtained their own collections over time. Only, they would get caught. Every time one brother was busted, I’d overhear my parents threaten to search every bag in the house. While they sniffed for clues, I’d ditch my cards among the discarded contraband in the kitchen garbage to save my skin. In the end, every heist proved fruitless. My name’s Eric Fellner, and I stole my friend’s and classmates’ cherished Pokemon cards so I could throw them in the trash.

July 2016. Imagine my surprise the day Pokemon Go comes out, and my mom has it downloaded on her phone. After all that effort! After years of enforcement! 

Possibly the allure of augmented reality swayed my mother’s feelings on the matter? Maybe she admitted to herself the ban never had any rationale to start with? Whatever occurred, Pokemon Go was my first game in the series at the age of 23. 

It was a good summer to start! I had returned from a month-long stay in Brooklyn, which was honestly the time of my life. I had booked my first show for my return to North Carolina. A month of walking around the city got me into great shape. To my knowledge, the relationship I was in was going well. July 2016 was starting off as the peak of my “Jordan-year.”

Additionally, the whole world seemed united in (at least novel) interest in this game. And I could finally buy-in! My co-workers at Starbucks would dip into the parking lot catching Pokemon while they took drive-through orders. All hours of the night, pods of kids and adults alike crowded what was suddenly considered “landmarks.” In search of resources. Battling over gyms. Trying to “catch ‘em all.” You’re familiar with the game.

Counting on!

Personally, I loved using the game as a pedometer! It kept me in great shape. Endlessly running through the neighborhood and shopping centers felt as true to the core gameplay loop of Pokemon as you can get. Only, there was slightly less animal violence.

Then, July came to a close. One night, I stopped in late to see my grandfather who lived in town, Popop. We had open plans to visit a 24-hour bakery in Charlotte called Amelie’s. Unfortunately, he passed in his sleep sometime before I arrived. 

Between that night and the funeral, the girl I had been seeing ended things over text. The next week, I played that show I had booked while I was in New York. Due to similar circumstances in the other bandmates’ lives, the band immediately disbanded. 

After a month of riding high, things crashed spectacularly. My enthusiasm for Pokemon Go died amid the chaos and depression of the time. I didn’t feel like running. I didn’t want to see people out, people together. It’s no exaggeration that week in August took years to recover from. Not just emotionally. Regaining the sense of momentum I felt that summer took time. Pokemon Go forever resides in my memory as the pop-culture phenomenon that coincides with that period of my life.

February 2020. After a couple rough years, I was quitting the worst job of my life (thanks for nothing, Target) to teach guitar full-time. Playing music, for a living. Then, wouldn’t you know it? COVID-19 struck! 

Boy did it. And the job I just went all-in on was at high risk of being yanked from under me. Reflecting now, I wonder if the sink or swim of the moment shocked me into a state of flow. One day, my boss and I devised a plan to transition the entire studio to a remote format. The next day, the admin team and teachers were executing that plan. We were infinitely fortunate. We never missed a single day of lessons.

My girlfriend lived two hours away in Raleigh, and we decided to lock down together while I could work remotely. Despite having some work, I still had a considerable amount of free time. We were 5 miles from Moore Park, the center of downtown Raleigh, with everything in the city closed. As that normal set in, I found myself running across Raleigh playing Pokemon Go. Me and my Snorlax, Popop.

Normal is hopefully starting to shift yet again, and I continue to log (slightly fewer) kilometers in Pokemon Go. I’m no longer interested in Pokemon to get along with classmates, and if tragedy strikes, I’m a little better prepared. Pokemon Go is more of a glorified pedometer more than augmented reality, but my fondness for it still runs deep.

This piece is part of a larger collaboration, Pokemon: Creator’s Catch. Click here to check out all the work by other great writers and artists!

First Impression: The Walking Dead – Season 1 (PC) ~ Overhyped?

TWD-game-cover

Official website

Deep breaths, Jonez, deep breaths. I might have to hide after this first impression or a horde of fanboys might come and attack and bite me. I’m scared to talk about my first impression with this game. I just finished the first chapter out of five from this game and it’s not what I expected. I’m going to warn you, this game might shock people, and this first impression might give me tons of bad comments. But please, keep in mind that this is my opinion on it and if you want to discuss my opinion, do it in a civilized manner. We have to stick together when we try to survive the horde of bad games lately. I got this game a week ago for an extremely low price. And it’s an adventure game from TellTale, a company that made the excellent Tales Of Monkey Island. And point-&-click / adventure games are my favorite genre ever. But does this game live up to the hype I created for myself or was this a big mistake to hype? Well, let’s make the harsh decision and let’s take a look at it. Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion on the game or / and this article. 

The story, such a weird thing. 

2290916-the_walking_dead_05194_screen
Indeed, used a screenshot from GameSpot

Yesterday, I recorded a podcast with Q about this and I already talked about this. Because I was able to verify my fears, I think I can talk about this with more comfort. The story of the Walking Dead game isn’t as good as people claim it to be.

Don’t get me wrong. The setting and idea behind it is pretty nice but there are a few things that made me shake my head pretty bad. There are some major flaws with the story.

The first thing were this game falls flat on it’s face is the fact that you know that there is going to be a victim. Sometimes you have the illusion that you can choose while in reality, the outcome doesn’t change.

Some choices just give you a different dialogue part while the main storyline is pretty much the same.  I can be wrong on this but from what I have played, my impression isn’t the greatest in terms of story.

Most characters die a bit too quickly as well. You barely get any connection time and a poof, they are death. And that is just lame in my opinion.

The second thing that makes me not really like the story is the fact that it exists out of some cliche things. Arguments and zombie attacks. Some things happen to have some gameplay but don’t make sense story wise. There is a moment were you are a in heated argument, somebody collapses and you are allowed to take charge. Ehrm, is it just me or did we make an awkward jump in terms of story here?

Something else that bugs me quite a lot is the fact that you are on a quick time limit. I understand the idea behind it, in real life and at those moments you wouldn’t have time to think about it as well… But when you play through the game for the first time it’s just a annoying thing. Since you barely get any time to read each option. And by the time you have read them, you have to decide quickly before you stay silent or do nothing.

Is the story bad? No, it isn’t bad. It has it’s memorable moments. The writing is nicely done but the execution isn’t the best for a game. I always feel that some main story is taking place and that you simply decides which character is going to die now or later on the road.

And the rest?

The-Walking-Dead-Game-Dev-Wants-Suggestions-for-Potential-Second-Season-2Usually I keep my story segment short, but for this game, I made an exception. Honestly, I think that the story isn’t the strong point of the game. The gameplay is. The last thing I’m going to say about the story is that for what I have seen now, the characters are a bit … well, paper thin. Like in episode two, suddenly another guy popped up out of nowhere. No explanation at the start. Just poof, he is a part of the group.

Anyways, enough “ranting” about the story. Let’s talk controls. And they are awkward at best for adventure game veterans. The simple fact you need to scroll when you want to talk or use an item on somebody is unnatural. Nearly every adventure / point-&-click game have a handy inventory where you can drop and drop the items from.

It’s possible to get used to the controls but with some animation flaws, they aren’t pretty good. Try holding the arrow keys and walk into the wall. Yes, the old shacking screen is there. TellTale, you disappoint me here. I know you guys can do better!

Do I have different complaints about the Walking Dead? Yes, yes I have. I’m under the impression that this game is quite short. A normal adventure game takes you on a lengthy adventure that takes you in tons of different places. But after a small 1,5 hours I was done with the first out of 5 chapters. Hearing from a close friend of mine, who has beaten the whole first season, each chapter is around 1,5 hours long. And trust me, veteran adventure gamers won’t get stuck easily. So, a short 5 – 10 hour game. That’s something I finish in an afternoon, and that’s not such a good thing for an adventure game.

So, this first impression sounds extremely negative. It’s almost like I’m about to say that this is a bad game. And trust me, it isn’t. This game suffers from too much hype. Everybody talks how awesome and amazing this game is and don’t look at the flaws this game has. While this game has flaws, it doesn’t make this game a bad game. The charm of the game is that the flaws get hidden behind a well crafted game. I have to give TellTale that.

The story has good voice acting and is graphically extremely well done.

Thinking about it, this game is actually more meant to be discussed with friends. Also, watching to a let’s play of this game is a tad bit more enjoyable then actually playing it. Since the surprise of what’s going to happen is then lost. I’ll finish this game for sure and I’ll write a full review about it. By then my opinion might have changed. And then I will also talk about some other things I didn’t had the time to put in this article.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. I’m working on a few new articles and I hope to see you guys there. Be sure to also check out the podcast I did with Allahweh! It’s the previous article.