Pokemon Go: How to get Pikachu from the start and 7 other things you should know

The Dratini character of Nintendo Pokemon Go augmented-reality game, developed by Niantic, is seen in front of the Victoria Harbor on a smartphone in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on July 25.
The Dratini character of Nintendo Pokemon Go augmented-reality game, developed by Niantic, is seen in front of the Victoria Harbor on a smartphone in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on July 25. PHOTO: HK POKEMON GO

SINGAPORE - Pokemon Go is finally out in Singapore, after a month-long wait since it was first released early July in other regions.

If you're planning to spend the weekend playing the game, here's what you should know.

1. Be aware of your surroundings!

The game tells you this almost immediately and it's worth reiterating the point. Don't stay glued to your screen because while the Pokemon live in a virtual world, you don't. Watch out for cars and other hazards.

In Japan, there have been at least 36 accidents involving drivers and cyclists. In the United States, two young fans were so preoccupied that they wandered across the US-Canada border.

It's not just cars you need to look out for, too. There have been reports of armed robberies in areas with high concentrations of Pokemon Go players.

2. Start the game with Pikachu


Costumed performers dressed as Pikachu, attending a promotional event at the Yokohama Dance Parade in Yokohama on August 2, 2015.  PHOTO: AFP

It's a tough choice that anyone who played Pokemon Red or Blue 20 years ago would be familiar with - Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle? Pokemon Go lets you choose one of these familiar faces as your starting Pokemon.

But in a nod to both Pokemon Yellow and the popular anime based on the series, you can choose Pikachu as your starter too.

When the game kicks off and the three normal starters appear on your map, simply walk away. When you've moved far away enough, the Pokemon will pop up again. Keep going - it might take a few tries - and Pikachu will appear too.

3. PokeStops and gyms


A woman plays Nintendo's Pokemon Go game on her mobile phone in front of a McDonald's restaurant at Akihabara shopping district in Tokyo on July 22.  Fast food chain outlets have become key locations, as gyms and PokeStops, for Pokemon Go players.  PHOTO: AFP

If you know the statues, signs and other interesting landmarks in your neighbourhood, chances are you'll have a leg up on everyone else.

These points of interest would probably have been made PokeStops - places you go to get virtual items for a Pokemon trainer, including Poke Balls to catch the monsters. These regenerate every five minutes.

Bigger landmarks like the dragon playground in Toa Payoh have been made gyms. Once you hit level five, you'll have to join one of three teams - Team Mystic, Team Valor or Team Instinct - to try and take control or defend gyms from rival groups.

4. Carry a power bank

Many have said that the many functions that the game uses - GPS and the camera among them - have drained their phone batteries very quickly.

A battery saver option in the game's settings turned out to be buggy and has since been removed on iOS by developer Niantic, although it said on Aug 4 that a fix "should roll out within the next several days".

In the meantime, you'll want to keep a power bank or two charged and ready to go with you. Or you can try tricks like turning your phone's brightness down, or turning off sound in the game.

5. How to find Pokemon


Nintendo Pokemon Go enthusiasts gather in a park in Lima hunting virtual characters and monsters in Peru, on August 4.  PHOTO: AFP

Get moving. Walk around the neighbourhood and the Pokemon will show up. You can use virtual lures to increase the rates of them showing up.

Once they appear, catch the Pokemon by tapping on it and swiping the screen to throw a Poke Ball. It's a simple burst of action that may take a few attempts - it may be hard to keep your hands steady when a rare Pokemon's on-screen. You may want to turn the augmented reality feature off, as it can help you focus on the task at hand.

 

6. Be prepared for server woes

It's hard to blame Niantic for difficulty connecting to the servers when so many people are playing their game at the same time.

Players in countries where the game has been out, such as the United States, sometimes take to social media to lament the game crashing when Pokemon Go releases in new regions.

Websites have reported that force-quitting the game and reopening it can help if it crashes while you're catching a Pokemon.

 

Parents can also do two things to prevent their kids from racking up large bills on iOS:

 
 
 

7. Pokemon Go goes as deep as you want it to

Many will have fun simply wandering around, catching Pokemon and filling up their Pokedex with friends. But much like the video game series that spawned the Pokemon empire, there's far more to it than meets the eye.

Each Pokemon has a Combat Power stat, or CP, that indicates its power. But many online have dug deeper and found out that each Pokemon has hidden stats and more variables that determine just how strong it can become.

Some are even figuring out when the best time to evolve a specific Pokemon is, to ensure that the monster has the best moves that cause the most damage. The bottom line: Pokemon Go is more complex that it seems.

8. Exercise restraint - you could be spending real money

As with many popular "free" mobile games, there are in-app purchases that you can make in the game.

Pokemon Go lets you buy PokeCoins with real-world money, and use the coins to buy premium items in the game like lucky eggs and bag and storage upgrades.

A bundle of 100 PokeCoins costs $1.48. The biggest bundle is 14,500 PokeCoins for a whopping $148.98.

If you're the type who can't resist these purchases and want to speed things up, Pokemon Go could get expensive very quickly. One way of preventing it is to delink your credit or debit card from your App Store account and use pre-paid credit instead, so you never go over-budget.

1. Never, ever give them your iTunes password.

2. Turn on restrictions that prevent in-app purchases. Navigate to Settings -> General -> Restrictions and turning restrictions on. Then scroll down to In-App Purchases and disallow those. Or you can tap on Password Settings (which may not appear if you have Touch ID turned on) and force the device to prompt for your password with every purchase.

In Android, go to the Google Play store, and tap on Settings. Scroll to User Controls and tap on "Require authentication for purchases". You can change the settings here to require authentication for all purchases through Google Play.