A long time ago, when budding Poké-trainers like myself picked up a Nintendo DS or Game Boy to explore the exotic worlds of Kanto, Johto and all of the other regions, we spent more hours adventuring than we would like to admit. But never could we have imagined, as we affixed our external light to our Game Boy Advanced and played late into the night, that one day we could be catching and battling Pokémon in our towns, cities and even back gardens.

In July of this year, our dreams came true. Pokémon teamed up with augmented reality developer Niantic to create the mobile game of the year, if not all time: Pokémon Go. Pokémon Go brings the Pokémon world right into our reality, as GPS systems place Pokémon on street corners and ask players to catch them. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our beautiful Poké-world of St Andrews.

Live Screen shot
Pokémon Go

The aim of the game, as with all Pokémon games, is to “catch them all,” as in all 151 Pokémon. However, another objective of the game is to pick a team and work together to capture all of the Poké-gyms (areas the three different teams will battle over) in your area. There are three teams — Mystic (blue), Instinct (Yellow) and Valour (red) — all battling for control of St Andrews.

Now that we are all acquainted with Pokémon Go, let me introduce myself. My name is Peter. I will not give away my Poké-trainer name nor my team, as I must protect every gym I can get (not very many).

I am currently level 19 but plan to evolve my infinite amount of Pidgeys and reach the lofty heights of level 20. My most powerful Pokémon are a 1139cp Jolteon and a 1086cp Tentacrule, but I have a soft spot, as we all do, for my Pikachu.

I have been in St Andrews for a week and a half now, and I can assure you all that the Pokémon scene is buzzing. In the centre of town alone, we have well over 20 Poké-stops (places where you can refill on pokéballs and health) in such historic places as St Salvator’s Tower, Market Street Fountain and our beloved statue of Hamish McHamish (prize for the first person to catch a Meowth there). But beware of the Poké-stopless wasteland of Market Street. From the fountain to the Union, there is not a single Poké-stop to be found. I recommend taking a walk along South Street and round the Castle up to North Street. By the time you are finished, you will have an abundance of Pokéballs, and St Andrews might just be the most beautiful place in the world to hatch some of your eggs.

There are also plenty of hotly contested Poké-gyms around town. There are three in the centre of town: Blackfriars Chapel on South Street; Gregory’s Meridian Line by Parliament Hall; and Younger Hall, where you can listen to Mozart while catching your Magikarp.

I would like to take a moment to address an epidemic that has infested the Pokémon community of St Andrews. Where in the world have all of these Dragonites come from? I don’t know about you, but I have only caught two Dratinis, and it baffles me how there are so many Dragonites over 2000cp clogging up the Poké-gyms and making them near impossible to defeat.

I don’t know if it’s the Madras students or the professors who had too much time on their hands over the summer, but these Dragonites need to get out of my Poké-gyms.

Non-Europeans, I am now talking to you. I hope you caught a Tauros, Khangaskhan or Farfetch’d before you got to Scotland, because you can only find them in the Americas, Australasia and Asia, respectively. But never fear, because here in Europe we have our own exclusive Pokémon. Keep your eyes peeled for a Mr. Mime and be the envy of all your friends back home.

Pokémon Go. Photo: flickr.com
Pokémon Go. Photo: flickr.com

Now comes the inevitable part of this article where, although we love Pokémon Go, we have to talk about the shortcomings of Niantic. We have obvious outrage at the removal of feet indicators; I have been trying to find a Clefairy near Regs for a week now with no success. But here in St Andrews, it is what Niantic refuses to put into their game that outrages me. There are two features that I think would improve the game to near perfect status.

The first improvement would be the ability to trade Pokémon. With St Andrews’ status as such an internation- al university, the ability to trade Pokémon would allow local Poké-trainers to master the game. By my estimations, it would take me 30 minutes to find an Australasian, 10 to find an Asian and around three to five seconds to find an American. Then I could get all of the Pokémon I could ever dream of, including the exclusive ones.

The second improvement should be the ability to battle. Let’s be honest. In St Andrews, we’re all nerds and geeks, and we would have no shame stopping somebody we have never met before to defeat them in a glorious one-on-one Pokémon battle.

This makes St Andrews the perfect place to release what is left of our social anxiety and get candies, or CP, or whatever Niantic will give us, from our sure-to-be epic battles. So, venture out into the most beautiful Poké-region there ever was and catch them all.

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