When publishers launch really big games, reviewers often cut the game a little bit of slack. After all, if the game does so many things so well, sometimes we can overlook a little bit of a lack of polish. Bethesda games regularly get excused for their bugs, as do games from Ubisoft, EA, and other big publishers. Nintendo, on the other hand, has never really had a quality problem. The publisher regularly puts out very high quality games, and very rarely do they encounter any sort of big bugs or glitches. It’s kind of Nintendo’s thing — putting out quality games with flawless technicality.
Well, until Pokemon Go came out, which technically was not even developed by Nintendo, but partly funded by the company. As with other games, we afforded Pokemon Go a similar type of leniency when it came to the technical detail. In fact, when I reviewed Pokemon Go, I gave the game an excellent 8.5/10 score because I recognized the incredible social ability that Pokemon Go had. It may have not been a perfect game, and was surely riddled with technical errors, but the social features and interaction for me made the game worth playing.
After nearly a month since launch, however, Pokemon Go’s quality is no longer acceptable. In fact, not only have the game’s problems barely been fixed, but it has less features now than it did a month ago. That is insane.
The pivotal feature of Pokemon Go, its tracking ability, has been completely removed. Never have I seen such an important feature for a game been removed completely rather than fixed. With no tracking left in the title, players are left to wander around aimlessly looking for Pokemon, when it is more than likely that yet another Pidgey will pop up instead.
The game still crashes. During a run I took yesterday, the game regularly crashed after every few minutes. It isn’t so bad when the phone travels slowly, but at higher speeds the app does a pathetic job keeping up with where players are.
In fact, unless you’re at a walking pace, the egg hatching barely works the way its supposed to. At first it was exciting to hatch each new egg, even if you have to travel longer than the actual distance for it to be tracked. It’s not longer nearly as exciting, and it sucks that Pokemon Go only tracks about 3 km of an egg after completing a six mile run. Some days the distance tracks a bit better, other days it tracks worse — but I have never completed a run with my eggs incubated equivalent to the actual distance I ran.
This would be such an easy problem to fix too, just incorporate the phone’s pedometer into tracking distance instead of solely relying on the GPS.
Finally, the developers have done a terrible job preparing for players that have reached the end-game, past level 20.
After hitting this soft-level cap, players are finding it more and more challenging to even catch the simplest Pokemon. Whereas before Pidgeys just took a single Pokeball or two to be caught, now players are finding that it may take up to five or six balls to catch the Pokemon. With such a high amount of EXP required to level up after 20, it is unacceptable that catching Pokemon becomes so much more challenging after hitting level 20. Even worse, rather than selling better types of balls in the shop, even past level 20 players can only buy Pokeballs rather than any of the better items to catch Pokemon. It seems like Niantic didn’t even think of gameplay past level 20 when developing the title.
At its launch, Pokemon Go was a novelty. The nostalgia of catching Pokemon was overflowing. The social interactions with the game were unprecedented; everyone was playing Pokemon Go! It’s been several weeks, however, and the game is not only broken, but now has even less features than when it launched. If this were a game without Pokemon in its title, the game’s quality would be unacceptable. And, after almost a launch since release, the game’s quality can no longer be forgiven.