Today I became a Pokemon Gym Leader.
I think. I’m not exactly sure how the mechanics work yet, but I’m pretty sure that’s what happened. Anyway.
Pokemon Go is out! Yesterday I literally left the house to go catch pokemon. If you know me well, you’ll know I’m generally opposed to using the L word, but this time it’s legit.
Now, when I was watching the hype videos and reading the beta reviews, I thought – probably like you – that this whole Pokemon Go thing would be wholly underwhelming.
I mean, your pokemon don’t even have XP or levels, the only way to evolve them is by catching more of the same, or of the same lineage, and you catch them by throwing a pokeball and basically hoping for the best. It feels as weird as trying to cha-cha to Mozart (I assume).
Not to mention the fact that the battle system is out of whack, the servers are as of yet unreliable, and the app seems to crash about as often as Gary’s Blastoise would use withdraw at the end of the Pokemon League in Gen. 1 – just enough to make you think “really.. really?”
But for all that, damn was I excited yesterday. And today. And I’ll probably be excited tonight as well. Let me reiterate something I said earlier: I literally left the house to go catch pokemon.
I mean come on, that is a dream come true. Sure they’re virtual, sure the Augmented Reality is not perfect, sure Trump might win the presidency – but I can still honestly say that I left my house to Go. Catch. Pokemon.
Ok, now that the excitement level has been set, let’s proceed:
It is hot here in Tel Aviv. Uncomfortably hot. Shirts become optional at times like these, so when I donned my blue cargo shorts and brown hiking boots I consciously decided that, in the real world, Pokemon Trainers don’t have to wear shirts.
So I’m out of the house, meandering around my neighborhood and checking my phone every now and again to see if – hey, rustling leaves! The nostalgia in me bursts out as my heart rate rises a little, but I’m a grown-ass man so I walk towards the leaves at only a slightly elevated pace. I broke three sweats.
My little avatar gets to the indicated location, and to my great dismay nothing happens. Having read more than a fair share of complaints about server issues, I thought maybe something was glitching, but I trekked on anyway and stumbled across this guy:
Instinct took over, I flicked my little pokeball, and wham, caught my first pokemon (I don’t count the starter; hardly had to try very hard for that).
Rationally, I knew I should have been disappointed. No battle, no real effort, no use for the Charmender sitting in my Pokemon Bag (?) – but rationality failed me as a stupid grin spread across my face with the automaticness of a wound up toy car.
I had caught a Pidgeotto because I left my house, found one, and threw a pokeball at it. Ahh!
After that excitement wore off I was sure I’d be let down by the following rigmarole of Voltorbs and Magnemites I found loitering around my street, but instead I went back home, grabbed my bike (no voucher, had to buy this one), and ventured onwards and outwards.
Once I hit level 5 I rushed to the nearest gym and handily got my ass kicked, only to realize there was no such thing as a Pokemon Center where I could heal my wounded Goldeen. I stayed away from gyms thereafter, until I found an empty one where I dropped off my Dratini and wondered what the ramifications of that would be.
This morning I read something about collecting stardust and coins for every pokemon you have in a gym, but when I went to claim my dues I found my Dratini beat down to 1 HP without the little gym icon over it, so I guess someone had ousted it.
Despite my short-lived glory, I was so psyched about adventuring again that I went out today too, this time with my younger brother.
At one point I gasped when I saw a Psyduck and stopped dead in my tracks to catch it. As I failed repeatedly to flick the pokeball properly, that looming sense of being watched crept over me.
I peaked up and saw a little girl in a sea-foam green dress in the middle of a photo shoot, and her mother behind the cameraman looking at me with an expression as confused as the duck I was trying to catch; I had stopped on the peak of an iconic bridge near the port, without having so much as noticed an entire family dressed up to boot and taking photos.
Meanwhile there I was, topless and coated in a sheen of sweat with a limp Psyduck in my hand and a chortling brother pretending not to know me.
Aside from that, and a sunburned back, going outside at the behest of Professor Willow has been great, especially when you go with someone else and take awesome shots like these:
So if you’re in Tel Aviv and you see a topless biker (possibly with a younger sidekick) roaming around seemingly aimlessly, don’t fret; I’m just trying to catch ’em all.
p.s, on our way back today I found a friendly gym with three pokemon whom my Magneton with 345 CP handily laid to waste, allowing me to stake my claim as reigning Gym Leader – for now.