“Just two more candies.. two more is all I need” I mumble incoherently into my phone, slowly trudging across London’s parks in the hunt for some pixellated prey.
Yeah, I’m one of them – The Pokéhorde.
Like millions of others, I spent most of my summer walking into trees and getting unintentional exercise, all in the name of Pokémon GO. I’m determined my digital doppelganger, Don Donsby, will fulfil his destiny of becoming the greatest Pokémon trainer London’s ever seen… or at least become the second-best trainer on Walthamstow high street.
Unlike the fairweather Pokéhunters that fell by the wayside in August, opting to put down their phones, socialise with others and forego their quest, Pokémon GO fever is still riding high in the Stuff office. Giving up isn’t how you become the very best guys – and somewhere deep down, I think you all know that.
I might be too far down the Zubat cave to see the Litten at the end of the tunnel (sorry), but it’s not hard to see why people couldn’t be arsed with the whole thing. After breaking the game’s nearby system, shutting down fan services like PokéVision and making the same few Pokémon spawn seemingly everywhere, Niantic’s unnecessary changes made the game less and less fun.
So how do you win back such a huge lapsed audience? Enter Pokémon Go Plus.
For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go Plus is essentially a tiny, Poké Ball-coloured Google Maps Pin that screams ‘I’m a badass Poké-Pimp.’
As well as bringing all the boys to the yard, it’s also a Bluetooth-powered wearable that lets you catch Pokémon, raid Pokéstops, and rack up those precious egg-hatching steps – all without having to touch your phone.
Thankfully, it’s a piece of Pinsir to set up. After pull out the battery tag, sync it up to your phone over Bluetooth, and connect to Pokemon GO in the app. Then it’s time to rock it like Brock.
There are two major ways to style this badboy: as a clip-on pin, attaching it to your belt or breast pocket (if you really, really want to), or on your wrist like a watch. Unscrewing the clip and slotting the Plus into the bundled strap takes seconds, and will let passers-by know that it’s always Pokétime when you’re around.
CATCH EM ALL › Drop everything and download: Pokemon Go
Pokemon Plus Used Flash!
The meagre instructions don’t really explain how you actually use the thing, but it’s all pretty simple.
The multi-coloured LED vibratres and glows green when Pokemon you have already caught are near, giving you a single shot at catching the critters by hitting the one button. In theory, this should make the art of collecting candies for Pokemon you already have a breeze, doing away with the mundane notion of catching your 1000th Pidgey.
In practice however, it’s not quite that simple.
To make things fair, Pokemon GO Plus gives you one shot at a Pokemon with a regular Pokeball, meaning that there’s no guarantee that you’ll catch anything at all.
You can tell whether you’ve caught the Pokemon by what colour the device flashes – with three quick red flashes being the signs of failure and multi coloured flashing meaning it’s time to celebrate as you’ve bagged yourself another Ratatta.
More often than not, the Pokemon would flee, dipping my catch success rate as low as 40%. Pokemon Plus,you really need to work on your spin shots.
Pokestops work in pretty much the same way, vibrating and flashing blue when you pass them and vibrating either three or four times depending on how many items you gain from the stop.
When it comes to new ‘mon, if you manage to bump into something you haven’t caught before, the plus will flash yellow, so you can pull out your phone as fast as possible and imprison that cute little monster before he makes a pathetic bid for freedom.
Stepping up your game
At £35 a pop, the idea of buying something that’s somehow worse at catching Pokemon then you are doesn’t exactly sound like a great investment. If you’ve just ordered one and I’ve crushed your dreams, don’t worry – the Plus has other strengths.
The little pin actually tracks your steps, meaning that even with the app closed and your phone locked in your pocket, you’ll still be able to rack up those precious steps, making hatching eggs and getting buddy candy far less of a strain on your phone battery (and your eyeballs).
At the time of testing, the step counter seems to be more forgiving when it comes to the usual 15mph speed limit too, with several bus journeys racking up steps that wouldn’t have counted with just the app.
WHAT’S NEW › Pokemon Go updates usher in tons of new features
Pokémon Go Plus verdict
Is Pokemon GO Plus a game changer? Maybe, if you’re still addicted – you won’t miss out on steps, XP, items and the occasional ‘mon, and it’ll let you play without being a slave to your screen.
As someone who plays pretty much every day, it feels great to walk around and play more passively, while actually enjoying your real life surroundings. And hey, if you’re sly enough, you might even be able to fool friends and loved ones into thinking you’re a normal member of society. Maybe.
If you stopped caring about the game a month ago, though, and are looking for an exciting new reason to come back, your £35 is probably better spent on the upcoming Pokemon Sun and Moon.
It won’t bring back any lapsed trainers, but dedicated Pokemon fans will love how the Plus lets them finally unglue themselves from their phones
Saves your battery, leaves your phone in your pocket
Counts up steps even when you’re not playing
Needs to up its catching rate
Nothing major to bring back ex-fans