Pokémon GO has been a giant success for Nintendo & Niantic, even with its bugs, removal of features, and dwindling player totals. When the game first released, trainers of all ages flocked to parks, historic monuments, and street corners just for the chance to catch their favorite virtual monsters. However, over time the luster has worn off a bit, exposing the shortcomings of the app and leaving people wanting more features, new Pokemon, and support in general.
At the height of the app’s popularity, an accessory was announced. Pokemon GO Plus promised to let you catch Pokémon without the need to constantly be attached to your phone like a mindless zombie. Little was heard about the Plus until the Nintendo Treehouse this past E3. Shortly after, unannounced, preorders went live at GameStop. A week later I drove up to my local game store and asked for a reservation, only to be turned away. The employee revealed then that most GameStops had only been able to take between 3 and 6 preorders. Even though Nintendo claimed that preorders would open back up, they never did. Fate had betrayed me.
Meanwhile, online prices soared for the much sought after accessory. People on Ebay asking upwards of $300 for their preorder on the $35 wearable. The funny part was that fans of the game were actually paying close to that $300 for a preorder. Then the inevitable happened—Pokemon GO Plus was delayed until September. All hope was lost. I would just have to wake up at the crack of dawn and stand outside to wait for the possible chance to get my hands on one of these rare devices. But fate had turned around.
A friend of mine and former GameStop manager had noticed that NBA 2k17 was launching the same day as the Plus, and that GameStop would be having a midnight release for the former. So I double-checked with my local store and showed up at midnight, outsmarting the morning crowd and securing my very own Pokemon GO Plus.
The next morning, I connected the device to my phone and started my day. Fifteen minutes later it disconnected—to reconnect it, I had to restart my phone. Doing some online research, this seemed to be an issue with Android and the device. Two different patches came out that day that made the issue a little more bearable, but the disconnects were still rather frequent, making the device almost unusable with Android phones.
Flash forward to about 6 patches later and the Plus has never worked better. Today I may get one disconnect, but that is due to user error—either moving too far away from the phone or accidentally closing the app. The app must be open in the background to use the Plus, but on the bright side it barely uses any battery. It tracks steps to hatch eggs and earns you candy from your buddy Pokémon as advertised.
The main use of Pokemon Go Plus is to catch Pokemon and to hit Pokestops. The light will flash green when a Pokemon is in range so you can attempt to catch it. The only “catch” is that you can only attempt to capture Pokemon you have already caught. If the Pokemon in range is not in your Pokedex then the light will flash yellow and you can take out your phone and attempt a capture. If you are in range of a Pokestop it will flash blue and by clicking the button it will collect items, gain your experience, and flash rainbow. If your bag is full it will flash white and you will be awarded experience but no items.
The big snag is that you are going in blind. If it is a good Pokemon that is in range, you will never know unless you take out your phone. You also can’t pick what ball you use for capture—it only uses Pokeballs until you run out, then it moves to Great Balls. The other big issue that I had was the inability to turn off notifications for either stops or Pokemon. This was resolved with the latest patch, so if I see that I’m running low on Pokeballs I can turn off Pokemon capture and just collect items and vice versa.
Overall, Pokémon GO Plus is a solid purchase if you can find one, but therein lies the problem. Every GameStop is out and has been for quite some time. No restocking is in sight. For $35, the Plus can benefit you at work where you can’t use your phone, take away the danger of using a phone while driving, and give runners a chance to play while on the move. It makes play a little more casual and less noticeable to the general public if you fear being ridiculed. Pokémon GO Plus is a great example of a product that had a bumpy start but got instant attention from the developer to fix its issues, becoming an integral part of a mobile game that swept the nation.