Pokemon Go Beginners Guide: Philippine Edition

Finally the wait is over! Pokemon Go is now officially rolled out in the entire archipelago of the Philippines! Pinoy trainers can now download the game on their Android and iOS devices. This is the moment that we have been waiting for since its initial rollout in Australi and North America regions in early July. Now that it's here, you might probably have already read some articles and watched some videos regarding the mechanics of this Pokemon Go mobile game developed by Niantic Labs. But in case you haven't, please continue reading on as I share all of things I have learned so far about this game which I think will be beneficial to you once you start Catching Them All.

First off, Niantic Labs does not actually provide a walkthrough on how to play this Pokemon Go, except for a short dialogue between you, the trainer, and Professor Willow about the world being inhabited by these pocket monster and that you have to catch all of them. Thankfully, the Philippines is not the first country to experience the game which meant we didn't have to figure out everything on own own. And if you check the internet, a lot of tutorials of different sorts are already available by the time we get our hands on this game. Here are the things I have learned so far.

1. Your starter Pokemon: Upon starting the game, right after you talked to Professor Willow and customized your avatar, you will be able to catch one of the starter Pokemon. Those are Squirtle, Charmander, and Bulbasuar. They will appear within your immediate vicinity, you may catch any of them, just one. However, there is a secret 4th starter Pokemon, Pikachu. If you want Pikachu to be your first catch, you have to ignore the first three multiple times until Pikachu appears. However, some of my friends confirmed that even though you have caught any of the first three, Pikachu will still eventually appear earlier in your stage. I haveyet  to try it though.

2. Your Pokeballs are not unlimited: Yes that is right, you have about 50 or 60 Pokeballs when you start the game, So be careful not to waste too much of them. In case you don't know yet, Pokeballs are used to capture Pokemon. Good thing is, you can have more Pokeballs for free, and you can get them from Pokestops and from rewards you are given as you progress through the game. And just like any other free-to-play games, you can also purchase Pokeballs in the app. How much to buy a Pokeball? See image below.

Purchases in the Pokeshop is done using Pokecoins. As you can see in the image above, you can buy at least 20 Pokeballs for 100 Pokecoins, now the question is how much is it to buy Pokecoins? The image on the right shows us, 100 Pokecoins cost Php47.00 at least. I will talk more about the Pokeshop below.

3. Pokestops are your bestfriend: Like Pokemon, Pokestops are also found in the outside world and marked as blues cubes from afar, when you are near the symbol of a Pokestop the symbol is similar to a Pokeball. These are usually located at public and prominent places like monuments, churches, parks, public arts, hospitals and more. Pokestops provide you free items like Pokeballs,  Eggs, Potions and many others.

When you are near a Pokestop, you click on the icon and you should see something like the one below.

You simply spin the image inside the circle and the items that will appear. Click the items to collect, and that's it. If live near a Pokestop, then you are a lucky trainer. Note that every Pokestops have a 5-minute refresh time, meaning you cannot spin and collect items again for the next five minutes. Just come back every after 5 minutes.

3. Catching Pokemon: Now this is the main event of the game, hence Catch 'Em All!  You are gonna be doing this most of the time your Pokemon Go app is launched on your device. Capturing Pokemon can be a little bit tricky though, you really need to walk around, and it's not as easy as tap-and-throw-the-pokeball-at-pokemon thing, and you have to note that the more rare and stronger a Pokemon is the harder it can be caught. Sometimes it even escapes from the Pokeball after capturing.

First off, always be aware of your surrounding. Don't stick your smartphone close to your face that you are losing sight of what's around. Try having some enough space between you and the device that you can also see what's ahead and near you. Once a Pokemon appears nearby, it will pop up on the in-game map. You can turn on the camera to try capturing the Pokemon using Augmented Reality so you can see the Pokemon as if they are just right in front of you. You can also try to catch with AR turned off and it's much easier this way I found out but the AR fun is no more, you know. Anyway, you can actually walk around without looking at your phone, as long as the Pokemon Go app is launched and your device is not on silent mode, once nearby Pokemon appears your phone vibrates.

As part of powering and leveling up and evolving your Pokemon, you will also need to capture the same Pokemon over and over. If you capture the same specie of Pokemon, you can transfer the duplicates with lower CP (Combat Power) to Professor Willow in exchange for Candy which can be used to evolve your Pokemon. More about this below. 

To capture, simply press and hold the Pokeball on the screen. Once you do this, a circle will appear around the Pokemon. This circle changes in size, the technique is to throw the Pokeball at it when the circle is at the smallest size. The smaller the circle is, the higher of chance you successfully catch that Pokemon.

You see the AR switch at top right of the screen? That's where you turn the AR (or camera) on and off. Again, I find it more convenient to catch a Pokemon when the AR is off. When a Pokemon is within my range, I click on the Pokemon, the camera will auto turn on then I will need to look around the area for the Pokemon. But when I turn off the AR, after clicking the Pokemon on the map, it will show up right away on the screen (like the image above) and no need for me to hover my phone around to see the Pokemon. Hope I made sense in explaining that, if not, just try turning on and off that AR button to find out yourself. : )

4. How to know if there's a nearby Pokemon?

To know if there's a nearby Pokemon, you simply click on the Pokemon icon bar at the lower right side of the screen (see image above). Once clicked it will show you list of the Pokemon near you. Now in the image I have above, the ones at the top are the closest and you will know if they are really near you by seeing footprints below a particular Pokemon, like two or three of them, of you see one footprint then they are really really close to you and by this time you should already see them in your map.

5. The Pokedex: All captured Pokemon are registered and stored in Pokedex, it also keeps track of all the Pokemon you have seen. All captured Pokemon appear in color, silhouettes for those you have seen but not caught yet. Pokedex gives you more information about a particular Pokemon which includes their evolutions. How to access Pokedex? Just click on the Pokeball icon right below of your screen, from there you can also access different part of the game like the Shop and items you have.

6. Pokemon Gyms: In addition the Pokestops, Gyms are also the most common landmark you can see in the Pokemon Go game it also very easy to spot, usually gyms are giant towers you see in the map. Gyms are also presented with a Pokemon at the top, most likely the defending Pokemon that you have to fight in case you or your team want to take over that gym.  But before you are able to fight a defending Pokemon at the gyms, you will have to reach at least Level 5 and pick a team of your choice. There are three teams to choose from, Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Valor (Red), and Team Mystic (Blue).

Battling means you either take over the gym from other teams or you defend them if your team is the current owner. And since the attackers will have to fight the defending Pokemon, you have to make sure that you leave your highest level Pokemon there as a defender. Note that once you leave that Pokemon at the gym, you won't be able to use it in fighting at another gyms anymore. Basically the essence of fighting and defending a gym is to earn Pokecoins that you can use to buy items from the Shop, and of course to become the Pokemon Master of your dream.

So make sure that you are at least at Level 5 and have some super strong and highly powered and evolved Pokemon.

7. Leveling up and Evolving Your Pokemon: After capturing a Pokemon, next thing you do with them is to power them up and evolve. Now, powering up is different from evolving your Pokemon. This is different from your character level up and XP. Your character or avatar also gains XP points for various tasks you do and one of them is capturing Pokemon.

Leveling up and evolving your Pokemon is another story. You can do this by collecting Stardust and Candy and use them on a certain Pokemon you wish to level up or evolve. CP or Combat Points is one you should look for, of course the higher the CP the stronger your Pokemon is, Stardust is used to powerup and it can be used on any Pokemon you would like to increase CP. Unlike Stardust, Candy is used to evolve a Pokemon, and you cannot use a Candy on any of the Pokemon you want. For example, a Voltorb Candy can only be used on the same Voltorb Pokemon and its same family of evolution.

You acquire Stardust and Candy by catching Pokemon or hatching eggs.

8. Acquiring and Hatching Eggs: In addition to catching Pokemon, hatching eggs is also another way you can get more Pocket Monsters. Pokemon eggs are obtained from Pokestops, I am not sure if it is also achieved when you level up. I will find out soon. To hatch eggs, you have to put them in Egg Incubator. One Incubator is to one egg, and at start you only have one incubator. So if you want to hatch multiple eggs at once, you have to buy from the shop. You are also rewarded Egg Incubators every time you level up. And the most important part of hatching eggs is by walking a certain kilometer, meaning you need to physically walk a certain distance while the Pokemon Go app is open in order for you to successfully hatch an egg. There are 2KM, 5KM, and 10KM distances for now. The longer the KM the rarer the Pokemon can be. Now that's a real work out, and I like that.

For now as a beginner myself, those are the information I would like to share to you. But I will definitely continue writing more tips and tutorials as I play the game for the coming days, weeks, months or maybe years depending on how fun the game is going to be in real life. But for now, I don't see myself quitting very soon. So make sure you follow me on my Facebook page for future updates.

If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to use the comment section below and we'll talk about it.

Have fun and Catch 'Em All!!!

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