As you’re probably well aware of by now, there are two new Pokémon titles out (well, we say new, but ‘remade’ would be a more fitting term). Heart Gold and Soul Silver have taken the best bits from previous adventures and distilled them into two comprehensive packages. Like the other Pokémon adventures, they’re great titles, but essentially more of the same. You’ll know by now whether it’s your bag or not.
What you may not know is that these new titles come with a fancy little toy you can play with. Dubbed the ‘Poké Walker’, the device allows you to take one of your monsters with you on a stroll in the real world, gaining experience, items and even new creatures with every step you take. It’s a brilliant idea in theory, but what about in practice?
Join us as we delve into the week-long diary of a real-life Pokémon trainer.
Right, how does this thing work? ‘Face device towards cartridge and place 2cm away’… Is it working? I can’t tell. Oh, it’s the first sync so takes a while. Silly me.
I’ve got bugger-all Pokémon, so I’ll need to take this Ratatta I just caught with me on my first ’stroll’.
What does this ‘w’ stand for? Walks? Or does it say ‘lvl’? I can’t make out what it says! Damn you, small dot matrix screen!
Oh, they’re ‘watts’, although that doesn’t actually clear anything up. Why ‘watts’? What can you actually do with these ‘watts’? You can use them to find items in a simple mini-game – that’s pretty cool. You can also use them to capture new Pokémon!? That’s even cooler.
I’ve flushed out a Doduo, so now we’re onto a very basic battle sequence: so simple, in fact, that there are only three options: attack, evade and capture. Three good hits and throw a Pokéball… Yes! Doduo is mine! It’s just a shame you can’t give them a nickname. Time to swap this rubbishy Ratatta for my new Doduo, methinks.
Ooh! Come across a Bellsprout, a stroke of luck since I never actually encountered any in the misleadingly named Bellsprout Tower. Bagged and tagged. Well, bagged at least.
Time to place today’s catches back into the cartridge. It’s a bit disappointing that in a day at college, a live gig and 7000+ steps has only seen Doduo’s level go up once.
Bellsprout’s turn to go on a wander this time, first to the doctor’s, then a university open day. Sounds like a fun-filled day.
Damn! Faffed around too much after encountering a Hoothoot and it managed to scoot away. Got a female Machop though. How is that even possible…?
Liking the little logbook entries that are given when transferring creatures back to the game. ‘Bellsprout is so very happy! It ran way ahead of Arseman (Yes, I called myself Arseman) and suddenly noticed the distance and then came running back confused!’ Loving it.
Woke up feeling horribly unwell and had to spend the day in bed. No Poké walks today as a result.
Oh no! Forgot to put a good Pokémon in the box to put onto the Walker before I leave the house for a driving lesson. In a rush, I end up chucking a Magikarp on it at the last minute. Surprisingly, my driving contributed a few hundreds steps, although the levelling-up of this rubbish Pokémon doesn’t bear any significant impact on my current team of monsters.
Today’s the day before Easter, so decide to take my Kakuna around a couple of supermarkets on an Easter egg hunt. A trip to ASDA, Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s later, I’ve taken 6453 steps, lost out on capturing two Sunkerns, found a full heal and a couple of berries and snagged a Poliwag (although I don’t remember them being so cross-eyed in the past). All in all, not a bad day’s swag.
Easter Sunday spent munching on chocolate eggs and rabbits. No Poké walkies occur for the second time this week.
Plan to go to the cinema with a few pals to see Kick-Ass (which is brilliant, by the way). Pick up Poké Walker and stuff in pocket, walk to Gregg’s for lunch, only to discover I’ve not actually put a Pokémon in the walker. Disaster! I’m reassured by a Twitter pal that my walk won’t be wasted as a wild Pokémon would likely join on my stroll and sure enough, a Geodude appears on the screen. It’s a nice turn of events, but it’s a shame it’s a Geodude; I’ve caught them at least a billion times before. Ah well, who knows, maybe he’ll be good for a trade or something. At least I think it’s a he…
The Poké Walker is an interesting concept, but its potential is sadly squandered with this release. It may seem like just a cheap ploy to entice younger generations to go outdoors and get some fresh air and exercise (which, admittedly, it is), but there are some good ideas here, such as capturing Pokémon while you’re on the move and the satisfaction gained from knowing that you’re levelling up your monsters even when you’re away from your DS. However, the low amount of experience you gain, regardless of how many steps you’ve taken, and the relatively rubbish Pokémon you encounter on your travels rarely justify ensuring you’ve always got a member of your squad and thus the device on your person.
It’s a good idea, but sadly one that isn’t as intriguing as it initially seems. There lies promise in future incarnations, but in its current state, the Poké Walker is far from essential in your latest Pokémon adventure.