I’ve been a Pokemon Go player since day one, but when I first learned of this past weekend’s Halloween event, I was only cautiously excited. After all, for everything Pokemon Go does right, there are ten other features that amount to “could have been awesome but were ruined by stupid problems.”
It was a pleasant surprise, then, when the event turned out to be a rousing amount of fun – with very few problems to speak of! 😀
For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go’s Halloween event ran from Wednesday, October 26th through Monday, November 1st.
During it, players could earn twice as much candy for basically everything – catching Pokemon (which earned 6 candies vs. the normal 3), trading Pokemon (2 vs. 1), hatching eggs (variable numbers depending upon the egg distance), etc.
Buddy Pokemon also yielded candy 4x faster than usual, with 1km buddies finding candy at .25km, 3km at .75km, and 5km at 1.25km.
And of course, select Pokemon fitting the Halloween theme appeared in greater numbers.
Oddly, though I imagine the increased Pokemon sightings were meant to be the big draw for the event, they were the least exciting part for me. Plus, I’m not sure why anyone at Niantic looked at Pokemon Go and said, “You know what this game needs? MORE ZUBATS.” 😐 Frankly, it’s not like any of the Pokemon featured were especially rare to begin with, but I went from having one wimpy Gastly and Meowth before the event to a whole army of Haunters and Persians during, so I can’t complain too much.
The real success of the Pokemon offerings was not in the Pokemon featured, but the sheer number of sightings in general. In my neighborhood and favorite haunts (pun intended), I’m lucky to occasionally see a Pidgey. Heck, it is exciting to see a Pidgey. But for those few days, all those areas had Meowths and Drowzees and Cubones and Gastlies galore, such that I was actually able to play without making a special trip, which is what I usually have to do (a perk of being your own boss: scheduling dedicated Pokemon Go days). That said, thanks, Niantic, for making your game playable in suburbia, if only for a week.
As fun as that was, though, the best part of the event was its candy-related perks.
Due to the aforementioned suburban lack of Pokemon, I use Pokemon Go as a glorified walking app, more than a game:
Each day I assign myself an egg or a certain number of candies and walk the distance necessary to hatch/find them. I’ve really enjoyed the introduction of the Buddy Pokemon system because it tricks me into walking more. After I hatch a 2km egg, I’ll usually see that I have 1km left to go on a Buddy candy; so I start a new egg, find a candy, see that I now have 1km on my new egg, etc… It is a vicious cycle that has resulted in some sweet leg muscles. Anyway, given the way Pokemon Go updates distances (in .2km-ish chunks rather than by step), the diminished distances introduced in this event led to A LOT of “Oh, just .1km to go” loops and resultant candies. Hooray for app-assisted health!
The candy perks had high strategic value, too (if the word “strategy” can be applied to a game like Pokemon Go). Prior to the Halloween event, I had several uncommon Pokemon that were within 10 or so candies of evolution – not a huge number, but no small amount of walking, either, given that most were egg-hatched Pokemon not common in my geographic area (and that I thus couldn’t evolve with candy from wild Pokemon). After a Halloween of plugging those Pokemon into the Buddy system, though, I evolved nearly all of them on walking alone! Combine those with all the Meowths and Zubats and Cubones and Gastlies (SO MANY GASTLIES) that I was able to evolve from catches, and this event made for an XPpalooza!
I can almost literally say that there was nothing wrong with this event.
Almost. It wouldn’t be Pokemon Go without a random problem.
Early in the week, I encountered a glitch that kept my distances walked from updating, but that was fixed within a day with a quick patch. More significantly, one of Pokemon Go’s new features/issues is that it dampens the sounds of programs running in the background of a device. Which, I guess, is cool if you need the extra quiet to concentrate on flicking Pokeballs at cute little monsters. Not so much if you want to listen to music while you play – or, as I do, listen to audiobooks while you walk. With Pokemon Go’s new sound settings, I have to turn my iPhone’s volume all the way up to even begin to hear my book. (I don’t run with headphones in for safety reasons, so the book has to compete with environmental noise.) It’s not a problem worthy of nerdrage, but it would be nice to have the option to turn it off.
But really, that was the biggest problem I had with this event. Overall, though Pokemon Go’s persistent general problems have gone unaddressed (WHERE IS TRACKING? TRADING? BATTLING YOUR FRIENDS?), the Halloween event was a huge step in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing what other seasonal events Niantic has up its sleeve.