Pokemon Go is one of the best things that ever happened to Pokemon fans since, well, the first Pokemon games. But contrary to popular belief, Nintendo and Game Freak, primary developer of the main Pokemon games, did not have a hand in the game. Their omission from the game’s development is immediately noticeable in Pokemon Go’s gameplay, which is vastly different than the main games. So it’s not surprising purists aren’t considering it as a “real” Pokemon game.
But how exactly does Pokemon Go differ from the main Pokemon games?
Check out this list of some of the most noticeable differences. This list assumes that you’re already familiar with the basics of Pokemon Go. If not, scoot over to the beginner’s guide first to get yourself familiarized. (Pokemon Go only features the original 151 Pokemon, but it’s expected to gradually include the others in the future, so the disparity in available Pokemon won’t be mentioned here. Neither is the trading feature, which is already on the way.)
1. Wild Pokemon
As soon as you encounter your first Pokemon, you’ll immediately notice that you can’t send it to oblivion. In fact, if you already own a Pokemon, it won’t pop out of its Pokeball and take a battle stance to defend you when you encounter wild ones. So, yes, that also means you don’t have to fill wild Pokemon with cuts and bruises first before you can catch them. Just throw Pokeballs at them and wait for them to be locked in. Battles have been simplified to merely tapping and swiping on the screen, too.
2. Stats and parameters
In the main games, each Pokemon have different stats and parameters that make them unique: the six core stats (HP, Attack, Defense, Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed); Abilities (special traits that have various effects, mostly in battle); and Natures (sort of like personalities that affects the distribution of the core stats). In Pokemon Go, everything was thrown out the window except for HP and then replaced with Combat Power (CP). CP is the singular measure of a Pokemon’s strength in the game. The higher the CP, the higher damage a Pokemon can dish out.
3. Moves and TMs/HMs
Each Pokemon in Pokemon Go are assigned two moves right from the start: a fast attack and a charge attack. The moves are fixed and can never be changed, no matter what you do. Even if you boost your Magikarp’s CP to epic proportions, its chances of learning a new move is the same as your chances of getting a date with your already-married crush: zero. TMs and HMs, items in the main games that are used to teach Pokemon new moves, are also not included, so your dreams of a Hyper Beam-wielding Vaporeon won’t be realized.
Pokemon don’t gain experience points and levels in Pokemon Go like in the main games. Instead, the trainer (you) gains them, but the level caps out at 40 at the moment. When you reach certain levels, you will be given access to higher-level items, like Ultra Balls. You earn experience points by doing various tasks, some as simple as catching or evolving Pokemon. And speaking of evolving…
Evolving in Pokemon Go has been simplified. If your Pokemon is capable of evolution, you can use the Candies that you collect after successfully catching a Pokemon. If you want to evolve your Dratini into a Dragonair, you need to make it diabetic and feed it lots of Dratini Candies. In the main games, there are several ways to evolve Pokemon such as reaching a specific level, using evolution stones, and showering it with love (seriously).
Pokemon Gold/Silver introduced Pokemon breeding and Pokemon eggs. The feature is pretty simple: you take two compatible Pokemon into a day care center and allow them to mate and produce an egg, which you can hatch by simply walking a certain number of steps. Pokemon Go retains the eggs and the hatching method, but breeding has been omitted. To receive Pokemon eggs, all you need to do is visit a PokeStop and pray that one of the random items is an egg. Unlike in the main games, however, you have no idea what kind of Pokemon is inside.
7. Holding items
Also introduced in the 2nd generation of Pokemon games is the ability for Pokemon to hold items. Their primary function is during battles, like the Leftovers item gradually recovering HP each round or the Salac Berry automatically boosting a Pokemon’s speed when its HP is in critical. There are also some that are not battle-centric, like the Everstone that prevents Pokemon from evolving. Pokemon Go does not allow Pokemon to hold items.
When you reach trainer level 5, you will be given the choice to join one of the three factions in Pokemon Go: Team Mystic, Team Instinct, or Team Valor. Gyms in Pokemon Go are represented by the players occupying them and changes color according to team affiliation. Whereas Gyms in the main games are occupied by unique non-playable characters (NPC) called Gym Leaders, along with some lackeys, and are themed to a specific Pokemon type. For example, the Vermillion Gym in the first 1st generation Pokemon games is occupied by trainers carrying Electric-type Pokemon and led by Lt. Surge, the Gym Leader. Also, Gyms in Pokemon Go don’t contain puzzles for you to navigate around, unlike the main games.
9. Trainer Battles
One of the bigger disappointments in Pokemon Go is the lack of trainer versus trainer battles. Yes, you can battle other people’s Pokemon stationed at Gyms, but they’re all AI-controlled. In the main games, you can battle real people using either link cables or internet connection. And as evidenced by the competitive Pokemon battling community, going head-to-head with Pokemon controlled by real people is a lot different, not to mention way harder, than feasting on AI-controlled ones. Trainer battles, however, are most likely going to be added to the game, considering that trading is on the way.
10. Elite Four and Pokemon League
The storyline of each main Pokemon game to date usually ends with you battling your way through the prestigious Pokemon League. The Pokemon League houses the Elite Four, the four (duh) most powerful Pokemon trainers in the game, as well as the Champion, a trainer MORE powerful than the Elite Four. Defeating all five crowns you as the new Champion and the Pokemon who fought beside you until their very last breaths are recorded in the game’s history books. Pokemon Go does not feature a Pokemon League or the Elite Four. In fact, there is no storyline at all, period. But in fairness, going through the Gyms in Pokemon Go is way harder than taking on the aforementioned five trainers, for the simple reason that the Pokemon defending the Gyms, while AI-controlled, are trained by real people.