TheFluff

Hello, my dear PUCLonians, and welcome to an especially hyped edition of The Fluff! As you’ve surely found out by now, I managed to be both a Prankster and an Infiltrator Whimsicott, and I showed up at PUCLcon like an unannounced loony. Luckily, instead of having me committed, the PUCL family embraced me in its ranks, and I had the privilege of spending an amazing weekend with them. I will not bore you with the endless, wonderful details, because Snag already gave you the best possible PUCLcon chronicle in his Anything Goes article last week.

What he doesn’t mention is that you didn’t take me along!

Would you have wanted to be squished among my socks? Come on, Whimsicott, you’re a collector’s item!

Fair enough. Do get on with your article. I believe the topic is another…

Indeed it is.

The Launch

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On the tail of that greatness, another exhilarating event took the world by storm: Pokémon Go is finally out, and everyone is playing it. Yes, even people in Europe, where I am and where the game is not officially out yet, took all of five seconds to find ways to play along. I waited a whole day, and when it became apparent Go was not just a couple of hours away from appearing in the Play Store (and that the “you’ll be banned” rumors were just that, rumors), I… went about it in a slightly sideways way. What I found was busy servers, a bugged game and the awareness that my house is a gathering hub for Pidgey of all sizes. And you know what? I’m loving every single second of it.

When I was finally able to log in (with Google, because Jushiro’s plight taught me that trying to sing in with my Pokémon Trainer Club account was but a wild dream), the first thought I had was… man, professor Willow is hot.

Oh, sister. I’m fanning myself, and it’s not because of the heat wave.

It’s the hair, I’m telling you. It does things.

Things.

Things.

Anyway, after the pleasant surprise (I had assumed that Professor Willow, which I’d seen mentioned, was a woman, because… Buffy), I found out that the nickname “Whimsicott” was, obviously, already taken (dang), and that, as is often my lot in life, I am too wordy, and “TheFluffiestWhimsicott” wouldn’t fit. I found a decent alternative, which should sound funny enough to my fellow Italians (especially if they’ve ever seen Homer Simpson try to adopt a lobster). I, of course, picked Charmander as my starter. My first Pokémon ever had, of course, to be my first Pokémon in Go, as well. But I have to admit I was a tiny bit upset when I only later found out there’s an Easter Egg involved in your starter choice! If you refuse to pick any of the three starters and walk away, or wait a while, they’ll come back to you… with a Pikachu in tow!

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This has been confirmed by several people on the Internet, so if you somehow haven’t started playing yet, keep this in mind! (Unfortunately, what hasn’t been confirmed are the sightings of Mew under various trucks.)

The first Pokémon I captured was also a match to the first Pokémon I ever caught in a game: a nice little Pidgey. I thought, hey, neat. About 42 Pidgey later (now 43 as I type, it’s like that freaking Hitchcock movie here, I swear), I am slightly less enthused about Pidgey. Although there’s a neat trick on Reddit involving evolving them all at the same time while using a Lucky Egg to get oodles of experience at once, so if you’re also swarmed by Pidgey, you might actually be lucky.

Catching ‘Em All

Pidgey aside, I was actually pleasantly surprised by the wide variety of Pokémon showing up just in the area around (or inside) my house. I live on the outskirts of town, and I’ve already seen 28 Pokémon… plus at least another ten whose silhouette has appeared in the “nearby” tab, but which I haven’t yet been able to track down. (The Rapidash who just randomly crashed into my room and fled after a Poké Ball and a server error will forever upset me, too.)

Believe me, not as much as it upset me. A giant Fire type popping up out of nowhere? GAH!

My current quest is to hunt for every Eevee I glimpse, although they’re proving to be as elusive as they are in the old games. My brother just told me he now has a Flareon, and my desire to evolve at least one Eevee is, no pun intended, burning ever brighter. Sidequests include finding the Jigglypuff who apparently comes to sing to my neighborhood at night, and finding out where the Mr. Mime I glimpsed just outside my local park went (because somebody needs to think of the children! Also, I want to show it to Woody). I did manage to find a pretty rare Pokémon, though… an invisible Doduo!

It's not an Invisible Pink Unicorn, but it'll do.

It’s not an Invisible Pink Unicorn, but it’ll do.

I also found a Bulbasaur on my way home yesterday, and I know there are Squirtle around, so I’m happy I picked Charmander… but so far I haven’t seen any of the really cool evolved Pokes that other people are getting. I don’t know if it is because I’m still pretty low-level or if I need to visit more populated areas, but I’m looking forward to fixing both of those things.

Gyms

As expected, since we at PUCL purposely picked the underdog yellow Instinct team (GO, TEAM BATTERY JESUS!), most gyms in my area were either red or blue. I thought, well, not a big deal, I’ll just have to crush them with my mighty Pidgeot, Bird Jesus! (Bird Jesus is actually kind of weak, but I know he’ll take me to the end of the line, the Helix fossil told me so.)

Rise of Bird Jesus.

Rise of Bird Jesus.

Rather ironically, the biggest obstacle in the way of my beautiful Flying type was… a bug.

I’m guessing you don’t mean a Pinsir.

No. I’m talking about the infamous 1 HP gym bug. Basket tells me it’s been around since the beta, and apparently the massive overload on the poor servers has made it pop up again now. It makes even the lowliest gyms nigh unbeatable: some say poison solves the issue, some say you need to wait things out… there’s no solution that works for everyone. Except, I suppose, patience and luck. If you encounter this bug and want to at least save on Revives and Potions, do as I do: close the game before the battle ends. When you start back up again, it will be as if you had never fought the gym. They don’t gain undeserved prestige, you don’t need to heal your Pokémon.

But you do run the risk of getting shut out by busy servers.

Sadly true. So maybe check the server status on http://www.mmoserverstatus.com/pokemon_go before you take on a gym… although for most of Friday, even that page was often down. We broke everything, guys. That’s how awesome this game is, bugs and all.

Anyway, I finally found out that someone else in my area is on Team Instinct, by virtue of spotting the gyms he’s conquered, and I was able to drop off a Pinsir named PUCLpride in the gym I can see from my house. Unfortunately no one else can see the name, but I’m still pretty satisfied. Speaking of things I can see from my house… I kind of wish this wasn’t one of them:

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Somehow, it was less creepy as an Ingress portal.

Items

My strategy of sitting in my room and waiting for stuff to spawn, at least until the current heat wave passes (I went out yesterday morning and got a nasty sunburn for my trouble) had an unfortunate side effect: I managed to run out of Poké Balls! (My crappy aim didn’t help.) And so I faced a dilemma: my personal philosophy is to never spend a dime on freemium games. But I didn’t exactly have time to sit in front of a Poké Stop for two hours, either.

Before you ask: no, I’m not doing that for you.

Awww. That would have been a good idea, actually… except for the fact that my phone is way too big for you to hold. Anyway, I had a realization: I’m going to be getting endless hours of fun from this game, while Niantic’s few dozens of employees are probably working madly to save their servers. The game has no ads, and it’s not like I’m giving my money to a company who makes it its goal to get people addicted to sliding candy around. So yeah, I dropped five Euros on Poké Coins this morning, and I don’t regret it. I might have to stop trying to catch Zubat, though; those little suckers are terribly jittery and I can never hit them on the first try.

In other item-related news, I got a Lure Module for leveling up today, and I’m holding onto it until I can share it with as many other players as possible. It’s going to be a party!

I’m going to sit under the falling petals the entire time. It will be beautiful.

Maybe not like this one in Sydney, but a party nonetheless.

Maybe not like this one in Sydney, but a beautiful party nonetheless.

While you’re in there, do try to call up some of your Fairy-type buddies, will you? I haven’t managed to get anywhere near any one of them yet.

Even if it’s a Mr. Mime?

Er… pass. Wanting to get one away from the kids in the park is one thing; actively looking for one seems… unwise. (Sorry, Woody.)

Conclusions

I can definitely conclude that this game is… fantastic. I’ve already met a couple of people who were playing it, and it’s not even officially out here yet! Maybe when it is we’ll get gatherings and Pokémon Go bar hops and more of that beautiful human element.

I thought you didn’t like people.

I can make an exception for my fellow Pokémon Trainers! For short, occasional periods of time, at least. For now, just knowing how massive the game is in spite of all the bugs and server issues gives me an amazing feeling. I remember just a couple of weeks ago people were like: “Yeah, but you can’t di PVP battles. This game is going to tank so hard.” And look at the world now. Businesses and Police stations and all sorts of public places are making accomodations and riding the Go train at full speed. People have gotten friends, rivals and even dates within 24 hours of installing the game. Folks who hadn’t willingly taken a walk in years are gearing up and enjoying a breath of fresh air outside (well, fresher in the Southern hemisphere, I guess, but it’s still something). Someone saw a guy actually riding his bike up and down the street to hatch Eggs. (This will forever be a highlight of world history to me.) And we haven’t even heard anything about those Legendary events (they’ll probably require an insane amount of organization and security: think how many people will show up!). In short, there’s magic in the air, and it smells like Pokémon Go (hopefully more like an Incense than like a Grimer).

Mhhh… Incense… and are these Razz Berries? Yum!

Whimsicott! Stop sniffing Incense and get out of my Go bag! PUCLonians, you’ll get to hear more opinions on Go next week, as Snag tells you all about his experience with the game in his Anything Goes column. In the meanwhile, if you’d like to share experiences, tips or funny stories about your time in Pokémon Go, please do so in the comments!

And now, please, excuse me: I think there might be a Snorlax in the area.

Until next time,

The Fluffiest Whimsicott