A gaming craze that has taken the world by storm has reached Lancashire as the young and old take to the streets to ‘catch ’em all’.
The seemingly forgotten 90s phenomenon Pokémon is back and it seems like everyone is finding any excuse to roam around the streets of the county just to play the game.
The game, Pokémon Go, is not officially available in the UK, but many gamers just couldn’t stand by and watch the Americans and Australians have all the fun and so found a way around the geographical borders.
That way involved getting a US iTunes account and those people included us, as we went out to see why the game has already been installed on more Android smartphones in the US than the smash-hit dating app Tinder, according to data from website SimilarWeb.
So here’s how it works: As you walk around, reality is viewed through your phone screen as almost – but not quite – the same as it is with your bare eyes.
If a Pokémon happens to be lurking “nearby”, your phone will buzz. Then it’s time to catch it by throwing a Poke ball - on your phone, not in reality.
But certain Pokemon stick to their native environments, showing why so many people have found themselves walking far and wide while playing the game. For example, you’ll only find some water-type Pokemon by the sea, so there’s a limit to how far you’ll get in the game just by walking your dog to the end of the road and back.
‘PokeStops’, where you can buy items, are located at “interesting” locations such as museums and monuments, according to Nintendo, which also makes Pokemon Go a good way to see the world.
And Johnstone Press’ very own Ash Ketchum, digital producer James Rogers, took the game out for a spin and says he can see why the game is so addictive.
“The game is pretty good in how it works,” James said. “The game shows where Pokémon are and you have to make your way towards them, which can be quite dangerous if you end up chasing after into a road.”
James went to different locations around Preston including Deepdale, Avenham Park and the city centre and said it wasn’t difficult to find Pokémon or other ‘trainers’.
“We saw loads of people quite obviously playing the game,” he said. “Everywhere we went there was always Pokémon near us and it was just a case of making our way towards them.
“There’s lots of good features in the game too, like it gives you details of the area you’re in, in case you’re lost.”
Three workers, Gus, Dan and the aptly-named Ash, were in Preston city centre playing the game and told us what they thought of the craze.
Dan said: “It’s possibly not what three lads in their twenties should be doing but the game is everything our five and six year-old selves ever wanted.”
“We’ve just had a celebration in the street because we found a Raticate (Pokémon),” said Ash. “We’ve only had it a day.”
Asked about how dangerous it could be, the three admitted they’d already had some issues.
“I’ve nearly walked into the road quite a few times,” said Gus. “You’ve just got to make sure you’re concentrating.”
Dan added: “It goes off when you’re driving too, so you’ve obviously got to make sure you’re not looking at it then.”
And the three think the game will only get better, especially when it eventually comes out in the UK.
“I think it will just turn into the card game,” Ash said. “I think you’ll soon be able to battle your mates, trade Pokémon and I think it’s only going to get more popular.”
With no official release date as to when the game will come out in the UK, more and more eager gamers are turning to the American iTunes in their quest to become the ultimate Pokémon master.