Rachel Bache is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Rachel Bache: Pokemon Go is ruining my phone battery - and my life

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Rachel Bache explains the thrilling highs and desperate lows of becoming a Pokemon Go addict.

Sitting in my car at 11pm on a Thursday night, I couldn't help but think to myself: "What the hell am I doing with my life?"

I was parked down a random street sitting outside a stranger's house. But I wasn't doing anything dodgy, I swear. I was just playing the new game that has swept the world this week, Pokemon Go.

Since Pokemon Go was first announced last year I had been ecstatic about the concept of being able to capture real-life versions of the little monsters that had stolen my childhood. Finally, I was going to become an actual Pokemon trainer.

From the creators of Ingress Niantic Labs, in collaboration with Nintendo, Pokemon Go lets players use their Google account to map to the game and discover wild Pokemon lurking around every corner. You then get to capture them.

It's basically the 2016 version of orienteering. Landmarks big and small become PokeStops, where players can collect valuable items such as Pokeballs, eggs and revival potions, while other locations have been turned into Pokemon Gyms.

Pokemon Gyms are where Pokemon battles take place, and it's all about claiming territory for your team - either Yellow, Blue, or Red. You can train your Pokemon at a "friendly" gym or visit an opposing team's gym for a hardcore battle. If that gym loses enough of its cred, it'll change hands and colours to the conquering team.

Read more:
Everything you need to know about Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go the latest craze in town

For an avid Pokemon fan it can be a lot of fun finding and collecting your favourite Pokemon. You can also trade in duplicates for Candy, which, when you have enough, allows you to evolve Pokemon into different ones. Plus, the more Pokemon you collect, the more badges and XP you get, which lets you to level up in the game.

From the moment I downloaded the app to my iPhone, I was hooked. I started off capturing a Bulbasaur - as a tribute to the starter Pokemon I would always go for in the original Nintendo GameBoy game - and soon I was off to become a full-fledged Pokemon trainer. I was over the moon.

But my childhood dreams were quickly dashed when I realised my phone battery had dropped from 80 per cent to 5 per cent in about half an hour. My phone was usually pretty bad, but this was ridiculous. The free-to-play game's constant GPS tracking is a complete drain and it felt like the app was battling my phone more than I was getting to battle Pokemon.

Soon my phone was dead and I vowed that as soon as it had charged back up I was going to go out there and continue my mission.

Then the second wave of despair hit: the servers went down.

Pokemon Go tried to stagger a global rollout to fix bugs and glitches before everyone started playing. So far it hasn't worked out. Instead, eager players flooded the servers causing numerous crashes.

Then there was the realisation at how bad the battle feature is.

This takes us back to my creepy late-night car sitting. I wasn't just in front of a random house - I was battling it out at a Pokemon Gym. But unfortunately, the battles have none of the simplicity and elegance of the original GameBoy game, where you can be considered and select moves strategically.

Instead, Pokemon Go battles consist of furiously swiping and mashing your phone's screen in hopes of taking out the other player's Pokemon stationed at the Gym. It's a complete disaster.

And don't even get me started on how the app has to be open the entire time if you want to hatch your 5km Pokemon Egg.

But despite the game's many shortcomings, there's a sense of joy when you're walking down the street and come across a Charmander or find a Voltorb in your teacup at the hair salon.

Walking through Sylvia Park on Sunday you could see groups of people huddled together flicking Pokeballs at monsters in front of them that were invisible to everyone else.

After going out for lunch over the weekend my partner (who's also playing) and I decided to walk the long way back to the car from the restaurant because it took us past three PokeStops - landmarks that we had never noticed before.

It may sound lame, but I think there's something kinda nice about that. I also caught a Poliwag that day.

Hopefully, over time Niantic Labs will be able to perfect PokemonGo. In the meantime, I'm going to start playing in moderation so my iPhone can actually survive an entire day.

- NZ Herald

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Rachel Bache is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

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