Pokémon Go: tips and tricks for starters

The essential guide for those who haven't caught Pokémon fever yet

Pokémon Go is all the rage right now — and even in places where it isn’t officially available. And why not? Niantic Labs’ wildly popular, free-to-play mobile game has rocketed to the top of app charts, brought in an estimated $14 million, generated billions for Nintendo’s market value, caused all sorts of trouble for many, and, perhaps more importantly, launched Pokémon into mainstream consciousness like never before.

If you haven’t caught Pokémon fever yet, don’t worry; there’s still time. There’s lots of time, actually. And for those who haven’t played the game yet, we’ve put together a few tips to get you on the right path to becoming the best pokémon trainer that you can be.


Pokémon Go isn’t too demanding on your phone’s processor and graphics chip, but it requires GPS location and an active data connection to work. And those, coupled with the game’s constant use of your phone’s screen and camera, are a recipe for battery-life disaster.

The easiest way to conserve battery (and data usage) while playing Go is to activate the in-game battery-saver mode by selecting Battery Saver from the menu.

And since the game makes use of Google’s Maps API, it may be a good idea to download the Google Maps data for your location for offline use. That way, your phone won’t have to work as hard to download your city’s map information data while going about your duties as a pokémon trainer.

In order to download map areas for offline viewing, open the Google Maps app, then enter settings and select the option to use offline maps. Tap “Home” or add your location manually.

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For good measure, bring a large battery pack and an extra-long USB cable as well.


Pokémon Go uses your phone’s camera to overlay the game environment onto the real world and simulate the experience of tracking and catching pokémon that appear at random as you move about. Sometimes that makes them even more difficult to capture.

You can, however, improve your chances of racking up your creature count by switching off the game’s augmented-reality (AR) interface, which then positions pokémon at the center of your screen regardless of where you’re facing, making it easier to throw pokéballs at them.


In Pokémon Go, quantity makes for quality critters. Building an army of Rattata (a rat-like pokémon that’s as common as its real-life counterpart) doesn’t sound like a winning strategy, but the logic behind it is.

Let me explain. Stardust and candy are in-game items that make your pokémon stronger and more evolved. The former can be given to any creature, but the latter can only be given to one type of creature (e.g. a Pikachu candy to Pikachu).

You earn candy by catching pokémon, and the amount and type of candy depend on which species you capture. Sending a pokémon to Professor Willow will also get you a candy (based on the species of pokémon).


Can’t wrap your head around how the in-game tracking system works? You’re not alone. Thankfully, someone has figured out how to catch pokémon that appear on the “nearby” menu.

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Two things you should remember: first, the fewer footprints there are, the closer the pokémon is; second, the animal shown on the upper-left corner of the screen is closest to you, while the one on the bottom-right corner is farthest. Forbes writer Paul Tassi has more if you want to explore the nitty-gritty of the topic.


In true Pokémon fashion, Go gives you a choice between three pokémon to pick as your starting companion. Balbasaur, Charmander, and the impossibly adorable Squirtle are your initial options.

But if you’d rather start off with Pikachu, all you need is a little patience. To catch Pokémon’s iconic electric rodent, simply walk away from the three pokémon available to you until they disappear and reappear nearby. Do this four times, and Pikachu will eventually pop up as your fourth option.

At this point, we probably don’t need to tell you what to do next. Now, go and catch your next pokémon!

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