APokelypse now: Pokemon Go hits Singapore
Brace yourself - global craze Pokemon Go has finally hit S'pore. MAX PASAKORN (firstname.lastname@example.org) begins his journey as a 'trainer' and speaks to other fans of the game
The Pokemon invasion has begun.
In all honesty, we should have expected it. The perfect time to launch a game with a red and white ball as its icon is days before a public holiday where everyone wears red and white.
This Pokemon fan was excited when news broke yesterday that Pokemon Go was available in Singapore, so much so that two hours, 15 Pokemon and 3km later, one of the news editors had to remind me to eat.
I am not alone in this obsession - the streets were soon awash with Poke-nerds, lured to PokeStops like Venomoth to flames.
Places such as Bedok Reservoir, Holland Village and Orchard Road soon turned into Pokemon-catching paradise as trainers used their Incense to attract Pokemon to those areas.
To some, the hordes that gathered to hunt Pokemon form a close-knit community that share the thrills of catching the cartoon monsters.
To others, they are smartphone zombies who have no life and resort to virtual reality to fill that social void.
So who is right? I guess it depends on whom you ask.
For student and avid Pokemon collector Kee Wan Ting, 19, it is a way to work some fun into her daily routine.
"I have a dog at home. Usually, I am quite reluctant to take it down for a walk," she recounted.
But today, after Pokemon Go was released, she surprised her mother by walking the dog as she played the game.
While she was out walking the dog, she also met other Pokemon Go players who were out on their own journey. To her, the game is a catalyst for conversation. "In our society, we don't really talk to strangers much. The game gives you a reason to get the conversation started," she said.
Even non-Pokemon fans are giving it a go.
Mr Gary Yeo, 33, was out with his girlfriend on a Pokedate, walking around Bedok Central catching Pokemon together after lunch.
While they would usually go out for Saturday strolls like this, he said that Pokemon Go gave them extra motivation to walk even more.
"Last time, when we were walking, it wasn't like this," Mr Yeo, who is self-employed, said. "Now, you walk to catch Pokemon."
But there are those who scratch their heads at the amount of time and effort Pokemon Go fans spend trying to collect a menagerie of imaginary pets.
At Bedok Public Library, a group of boys walked past me. One shouted angrily: "S***, everyone's playing Pokemon Go!"
He obviously didn't like it. Or maybe he just didn't like Pikachu. Electric rodents can be annoying to some people.
Many others voiced their displeasure over how Pokemon Go players are a public nuisance at best and a public hazard at worst.
Student Goh Chun Hwee, 16, said: "I feel that it is not safe, because people tend not to focus and get into accidents."
In San Diego, California, two men had to be rescued last month after they walked off a cliff while trying to collect Pokemon in the vicinity.
Over in Baltimore, Maryland, a man ploughed his SUV into a police car because he was playing Pokemon Go while at the wheel.
While no major accidents have occurred here yet, the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force have already issued advisories for Pokemon trainers here to play safe.
So, what is the verdict?
I think Pokemon Go is truly a phenomenon that transcends age, gender and culture.
Today, a friend of mine told me his middle-aged parents were out hunting Pokemon together - the couple knew nothing about Pokemon but found a new way to spend time together.
Walking around PokeStops in my neighbourhood and meeting other Pokemon Go players, I felt embraced. People were walking, having face-to-face conversations about their adventure. These were people I had never met before, yet we formed bonds. We formed a community.
And that is the best part about Pokemon Go: It isn't just a normal computer game which causes myopia, it can actually be healthy for you in terms of both mind and body.
That said, maybe Pokemon Go will finally replace my gym membership.
And my diet.
Tips to be a Pokemon Go master
So how do you become the very best? TNPS spoke to local Pokemon Go players Jason Chee and Sean Ko, who had a head start playing the game overseas, to share their tips.
CATCH THEM ALL
Don't overlook Pokemon that you've caught before. Catch every Pokemon you can get your Pokeballs on because you gain more experience points (XP) if you catch them all, which will help your trainer level increase more quickly. Higher trainer levels mean you'll find stronger Pokemon, and you'll be able to catch tougher Pokemon more easily.
WALK, WALK, WALK
Don't be lazy. Your chances of catching Pokemon increases as you walk around. If an incense is placed on a location, you should walk to and fro for 20 to 30m, in order to increase the chances that you encounter a Pokemon in that area.
EVOLVE TO GAIN XP
One of the most efficient ways to get the most XP is to evolve your Pokemon. Save your Candies until you use the Lucky Egg, an item that doubles your XP amount. Then it's time for an evolving frenzy, and your trainer level should shoot up.
BUY POKEMON STORAGE
If you're planning on spending cash on the game, get the Pokemon Storage Upgrade, an item that costs 200 Pokecoins, or about $3. The upgrade lets you store an extra 50 Pokemon to your current 250. And that means you can evolve more Pokemon at one go for a massive XP reward.
About the game
Pokemon Go is a free-to-play augmented reality game published by Niantic for Android and iOS phones.
In the game, players become Pokemon trainers who capture and train Pocket Monsters, or Pokemon. They traverse the real world in order to find and capture 151 Pokemon, with more Pokemon spawning as they move.
Players also need to move around to find PokeStops, places of interest around the world that would grant them resources to catch more Pokemon. They can also join one of three teams to battle for control over Pokemon Gyms, which can be found around landmarks across Singapore.
Interesting Pokestops, Pokegyms in S'pore
- Ong San Leong Tomb, Bukit Brown Cemetery
- Giant Bass sculpture, Singapore Zoo
- Giant Red Parrot sculpture, Jurong Bird Park
- Merlion, Sentosa Island
- Dragon Playground, Toa Payoh Lorong 6
- City Harvest Church, Jurong West
- Kua Chee Tng Buddhist Temple, Moulmein Road
- Jurong Junior College
- Raffles Institution
- PUB Recreation Club