Pokémon GO Has Surpassed The Main Series Pokémon Games

Pokémon GO's concept is simple. It takes the Pokémon spawns, along with some elements of the main series games, and brings them into the real world. Niantic's hit mobile game stormed the world in 2016, becoming a phenomenon and making the Pokémon brand even more ubiquitous than what was thought to be its heyday in the early days of Pokémania twenty years ago. In the years following, Pokémon GO is still one of the most successful mobile games and is used by countless trainers to build communities both in person and now, remotely. Because of this, Pokémon GO has become the ultimate Pokémon experience, fully realizing the promise of letting people live their dreams of becoming real-life trainers.

Pokémon GO load screen and the cover of Pokémon Red Version of the main series games. Credit: Niantic, Game Freak
Pokémon GO load screen and the cover of Pokémon Red Version of the main series games. Credit: Niantic, Game Freak

The main series Pokémon games are excellent. Some of them are even classics. Without them, there would be no Pokémon GO, so this is not meant to denigrate the main series games, which are of course the source material. The designs, the sounds, the concepts, all of it comes from these games. What Pokémon GO did, though, it makes these ideas accessible to anyone, removing the narrative that the main games offer and replacing it with an experience that perfectly integrates with whatever lifestyle the player is leading. It allows players to get close to their Pokémon with Niantic's ever-improving AR+ features. Players can photograph their Pokémon as it blends with the real world. They can feed it, and watch it realistically eat. They can scratch its belly.

Pokémon GO works for a wider variety of people because of the ease of entry, as well as the complexity of the game that rewards players who grind. It has taken out the aspect of the main series games that necessitate battling wild spawns down before catching them, which made certain Pokémon such as Ratata and Zubat into plague species in the originals. Now, all it takes is throwing a ball and you're done with it. However, that simplicity gives way to great complexity for those who dedicate time to studying IVs, PVP IVs, top meta raid attackers, and more. There's always more to be learned about Pokémon GO, and the pace at which Niantic rolls out new features is steady but not overwhelming.

Even the main series games seem to acknowledge the success of Pokémon GO, as they have taken the idea of raids in Niantic's game and applied them to the latest releases, Sword and Shield. Raids have built intensely diverse communities of people that meet to walk during the weekly raid hours, as well as online groups that remote raid together. The social aspect elevates the dream of Pokémon to an entirely new level, which is where Pokémon GO shines.

Finally, a personal anecdote. I was twelve years old, getting ready to watch the original Pokémon movie in theaters with my friends. We may have been a bit rowdy we sat down, excited for the film. A woman in front of us who was there with her young son turned around and said, "Aren't you a little old for Pokémon?" We were perplexed. No, we weren't. We were kids. The lady seemed annoyed that she had to watch this movie that she wasn't interested in with her kid. She couldn't picture a world where she is as interested in Pokémon as he was. Now? Every Wednesday, I meet with a raid group of people of all ages. Some of them are just like this lady, only their kids have gotten tired of Pokémon GO… but the parent still comes to the Raid Hours, having fallen in love with the game and the community.

Pokémon GO. once undeniably a fad, has become a great uniter. Because of this, because it offers something for everyone, it is the ultimate Pokémon experience.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.