Review: Pokemon Go Plus

Expensive, hard to find, but adds to Pokemon Go's functionality nicely

Back when Pokemon Go was first revealed, eagle-eyed viewers spotted a wearable device being worn by a number of players in the trailer. Looking like a cross between a pokeball and a Google Maps Pin, this wearable device would eventually be revealed to be the Pokemon Go Plus.

 

The device, priced at £34.99 RRP, was announced as a way for players to capture pokemon, hatch eggs, collect items from pokestops, and more without having to have your phone out at all times. It missed the launch of the game, arriving after much of the cultural phenomenon surrounding it had begun to die down, and even still the Plus has been impossible to find gold dust. Those wanting to pick one up today realistically need to spend double its RRP to buy one from a third-party seller.

 

Those wanting to pick one up today realistically need to spend double its RRP to buy one from a third-party seller

Is the Pokemon Go Plus worth picking up for a player still playing Pokemon Go regularly this long after launch, even with a likely inflated price? For me, the Plus is fulfilling a niche I did not know I needed filling in late game pokedex filling and gym battle preparation, but takes a little of the magic out of the game in the process. As much as I am enjoying using it, I would be hard pushed to justify purchasing it at scalper prices.

 

So, what does the Pokemon Go Plus actually do? The primary use of it is to play much of Pokemon Go with your phone not only in your pocket, but on sleep mode, saving you from the app’s crazy battery usage. The Plus features a single button and a coloured LED light which glows different colours to signal different in-game activities, with you able to act by tapping the button.

If you pass a pokestop the LED with flash blue, and pushing the button will collect any items it contains. If it flashes green, a pokemon you’ve already caught is in range and you can press the button to throw a pokeball at it, with the device then flashing red for a failed capture, or multiple colours for a successful catch. Yellow flashing of the Pokemon Go Plus indicates a new Pokemon you have not previously caught is nearby. While it was initially stated that you would need to open the app to try and capture these Pokemon, at this time you can also attempt to capture these Pokemon the same way as Pokemon already in your pokedex.

Pokemon brought up by Incense Lure initially did not work with the Plus, but a later update means they do now.

It was also initially suggested that the Pokemon Go Plus would not track distance walked while your phone was in sleep mode, but it certainly seems to track that data at this time.

You only get one chance at capturing any pokemon this way

If you want to find out what pokemon you were trying to catch, or if you want to use anything stronger than a standard pokeball, you’ll need to open up the main game. Using the Plus also won’t apply spin to your balls, use RazzBerrys, or go for optimal throw timing, resulting in seemingly lowered capture rates compared to doing it yourself within the app.

Unfortunately, and this is a big downside to blind capture attempts, you only get one chance at capturing any pokemon this way.

 

In my time spent with the device over the past several days, I have found it a great way to play Pokemon Go in social situations without feeling quite so antisocial. I can sit at a bar with friends while collecting rewards from the nearby pokestop without having to pull my phone out every five minutes and play a game mid-conversation.

I can grind for Pidgeys and Drowzeys while walking to the store without making it obvious to the cashier that I’m busy raking in Stardust at the till. I can hatch eggs without having my phone drain down in my pocket. I can play Pokemon Go when walking home late at night without making myself a bright, glowing beacon for muggers.

 

I can check my emails, send a tweet or watch a Youtube video while not missing out on pokemon spawns in the area

Also, perhaps best of all, I can minimise the app and still have the game run. This means I can check my emails, send a tweet or watch a Youtube video while not missing out on pokemon spawns in the area. While this really should have been functionality within the base game rather than being locked behind a peripheral, I’m just thankful to have the functionality at all at this point.

 

This all said, it does take a little of the magic out of day-to-day Pokemon Go play. The device doesn’t alert me to rare pokemon I have not seen before popping up on my sightings for me to hunt down. It doesn’t alert me to when an egg is hatching in my bag so I can watch with trepidation hoping it’s something good. It doesn’t tell me when I’ve caught enough of something to evolve it, or if what I caught was one of those pokemon I catch all the time like Rattata, or something I’ve maybe only caught 3-4 times total like Dratini.

Without any way to alert me when a specific cool pokemon I’m trying to catch for evolution purposes pops up, I at times find myself paranoid in case I stumble upon a much-needed pokemon, don’t throw ultra balls at it because it was only a green light, and miss out on that crucial catch.

 

While it’s not a replacement for the thrill of Pokemon Go’s primary gameplay, it does make a really nice supplementary addition to the game. It allows me to play more subtly in certain situations where that is needed, and that alone is enough for me to be happy about owning the device.

It’s without a doubt a grinding tool rather than a gameplay tool, with inventory needing to be cleared and catches checked using the game still, but it gets the job done during those times when you just want to catch anything nearby without pulling out your phone or closing that Youtube video you were watching.

I just wish people could get a hold of it at RRP without having to wait weeks or months, or pay way more through a scalper…

Manufacturer: Niantic/The Pokemon Company

MSRP: £39.99

Input: Bluetooth

 

  • Enables multitasking.
  • Tracks while minimised or the phone is locked.
  • Allows play in more subtle situations.
  • Cost.
  • Availability.
  • Limited feature set.

While the Plus adds functionality to Pokemon Go, it’s a grinding-focused rather than gameplay-improving tool.

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Laura's gaming journey began in the 90′s when she was given a SNES by her older brother with Mario paint. From that day video games were all she thought about day or night, be it playing them, designing them, discussing them or writing about them.

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