Ever since the phenomenal rollout of the augmented-reality smartphone game Pokémon Go a few weeks ago, pokémon trainers have already discovered more than one virtual pokémon gym in the U.S. and across Europe.
In Go’s version of pokémon gyms, pokémon can be trained and trainers can claim them either by assigning a pokémon or battling a rival team who has claimed one. Of course, all this only happens on your smartphone.
But somewhere in Japan—where it all started—is a real-life pokémon gym where anyone can physically train, play, and interact with (virtual) pokémon. That means you, pokémon trainer!
A first, and so far the only one of its kind in the world, the Pokémon Expo Gym (PEG) opened in November 2015 in Osaka as part of Expocity, a massive shopping and entertainment complex.
It’s a 70-minute commute from Osaka Castle. You get off at the Banpaku-Kinen-Kōen Station; a giant inflatable Pikachu will welcome you upon arrival.
The Pokémon Expo Gym is right across this Gundam store.
Inside the gym is a small cafe that sells Pokémon-themed snacks.
We’ve seen healthier menus than this.
You can also take home this Pikachu tub filled with popcorn.
Just like Pokémon Centers in other parts of Japan, the Pokémon Expo Gym has a store that sells a sea of plush toys. Because, really, who wouldn’t want one?
There are also some AR-enabled merchandise that are not available in any other Pokémon stores, like this ID tag.
There are signs (in Japanese) around the gym with AR codes that activate with the PEG Gear app. Yep, that Pikachu popped out of that pokéball signage.
The gym’s real attraction, though, is an arcade-like facility beyond this gigantic pokéball. To get in, you need to buy a membership card called PokéPera for 500 yen.
Sadly, a membership at the world’s only real-life pokémon gym doesn’t increase your chances of catching rare creatures in Pokémon Go. But who knows what pokémon you can catch here once the app finally rolls out in Japan?
If you plan on trying out the facilities, you will have to top up your card with yen.
Macho J’s Boxercise, for example, costs 400 yen for one game that lasts for 3 minutes.
Here’s my friend Leslie getting physical with Macho J.
Aside from making Pikachus pop out, the PEG Gear app will also record your results inside the gym. I obviously have a long way to go to become a pokémon master. Sigh.
Gardevoir’s Control Score involves catching pokémon using a stylus and monitors.
There are other attractions where you can interact and talk with the pokémon. In case you’re going through some times, you can learn to punch like Machamp and get some life advice at Machamp’s Counseling Room.
The entire gym is decorated with Pokémon elements to give you all the #feels. Floors are painted with pokéball icons.
The walls also have murals like this one.
Even the toilet signs are Pikachu silhouettes.
If you ever find yourself traveling across Osaka — with half a day and more than 4,000 yen to spare — a visit to the Pokémon Expo Gym is a must. Whether you’re a die-hard Pokémon fan or not, this actual pokémon gym is something everyone can appreciate.
1 USD = 106 JPY
[irp posts=”10698" name=”Pokémon Generation 2 is out”]
I was in Facebook jail for 24 Hours
Banned unjustly without any chance to appeal
It was a lazy Friday morning when I woke up to a 9GAG article. Chuckling on its narrative, I saved the article in hopes of reading it later again so I can decide if I will share it with a close friend of mine. However, saving the article meant posting and sharing it, according to Facebook. I was given a warning for violating their community guidelines.
Shocked and confused, I unsaved the link. To find out if it’s the real culprit, I saved the link once again and then boom! I was banned from posting, liking, and engaging in any posts on Facebook.
At first, I thought the ban would only affect my profile. Little did I know, the ban would extend to the pages I handle. I couldn’t post, not even the scheduled posts I prepared for the day were posted. It affected my job as a social media manager.
Locked up and grounded
Que horror, the only word I uttered after realizing I screwed up. I asked someone to cover for my work while I channel my frustrations on Twitter and Reddit. Mindlessly, I scrolled through Instagram and I repeatedly had the urge to switch apps and browse on Facebook so I can share memes, just like what I would do on a normal day.
“They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just can’t tell the world the situation they’re in.”
However, I couldn’t handle it anymore. Not being able to share or at least react, I felt disconnected from everyone. To free myself from the negative feelings circulating inside, I uninstalled Facebook and did the rest of my work for the day.
For 24 hours, I was impatiently waiting to get my ban lifted. Being in Facebook jail didn’t feel like being cut-off from the world, but it was more like being grounded. It’s like my parents decided to stop me from seeing and contacting my friends just because I sneaked out of the house past 10pm.
But more importantly, being in Facebook jail made me reminisce the prison life in the TV series I used to watch. How people — both criminals and victims of injustice alike — band together in a different, locked-up space, watching the world outside prison quietly. They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just couldn’t tell the world the situation they’re in.
To make it through the day, I casually searched for people who experienced the same situation — unjustly banned for using a feature that isn’t directly hurting anyone. If I would have said something explicit or any form of hate speech, I would understand. But I didn’t.
“Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure.”
If the article I wanted to save and read for later was violating the platform’s nudity policy, then why was 9GAG not reprimanded for posting it at all? Why did it have to be me? Up until today, I still can’t fathom the reason. Not even on Facebook’s useless Help center. It was reading stories that shared the same fate as I did that made me feel better. They made me feel that I’m not alone. “I’ll get through this,” was what I told myself.
It’s funny how being connected through the world’s largest social media platform made it both a good and a bad thing for everyone. It’s good in a way that Facebook helped us maintain the connection and relationships despite the distance. It’s bad in a way that we depend on Facebook to get updates from people through the posts they share and the stuff that goes viral; that we need to stay online and check on everyone through our news feed just so we don’t miss anything that might be discussed in real life.
What I learned
The ban was lifted after what felt like forever and I learned my lesson. It’s like being given a second lease on life. But what I learned, first and foremost, is to never use Facebook’s save feature. Without any strict, proper guidelines on what constitutes a ban according to their policies, Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure — a dictator deciding what to censor without any justifications or proper explanations.
Of course, it’s their platform. They can do whatever they want with it, but Facebook is more than a platform. It’s a whole new way of connecting with everyone around the world. A lot of realizations dawned on me through this incident, and there is one more lesson to learn here: Life without Facebook can be a good one, too. One where we rely on real, physical, and intimate connections. One where we only catch up with the people that truly matter.
Now I know what people feel like when they claim they have found freedom after deleting their Facebook accounts. I’m still far from deleting my account, but slowly, I’ll figure it out. Maybe, for now, what I can do is step away and disconnect, and live a day or two without social media.
Samsung Galaxy Fold hands-on: An expensive sneak peek into the future
It’s not for everyone
2019 is the year of the foldable phone. First in the ring was Samsung’s Galaxy Fold. Announced in February, it was supposed to launch as early as April. As we all have probably read or heard, its early release to reviewers was met with a lot of issues. Samsung had to delay its official launch.
Over the last few months they’ve been busy reworking the Fold; now it’s tougher than ever and ready for the real world.
In some ways you can think of the Galaxy Fold as a 7.3-inch tablet that you can fold into a candybar phone with a 4.6-inch display.
When folded, all buttons are on the right hand side of the device: volume rocker, power button, fingerprint sensor, and its SIM tray.
On the bottom a USB-C port and speaker grilles.
Samsung focused on addressing the main issues that plagued its first release. Some users previously peeled off what they thought was a screen protector that turned out to be a very important protective layer. That layer is now tucked under the bezels so you don’t even know it’s there.
There’s also a cap that is meant to prevent dust and dirt from getting underneath the protective layer.
The hinge, too, has been reinforced. The gap between the hinge and the display has also been reduced.
Having used the original Fold, I can say that opening and closing i feels more secure. Even if you feverishly snap it open and close. All these changes have been made to ensure the phone survives the rigors of the real world.
One UI has also been optimized for the Fold. Home, back and multitasking buttons for example can be flushed to either side of the display for one handed use.
To open more windows alongside the app that’s already open just swipe from the right side and use apps edge to launch new apps. Closing windows is one tap or swipe away.
When you’re on an app and a notification comes in, you can press and drag the notification to open it as a separate window, so you can respond to a WhatsApp message easily, for example.
Even if you have two displays you can seamlessly switch between both by enabling a setting called App Continuity. That way whether you’re adding a contact on the big screen, or using your map on your small screen, you can close or open the display and continue what you were doing seamlessly.
While the changes are much improved, the Galaxy Fold is not perfect. The front display is very small and is very hard to type on. I’d use it for things like Instagram, maybe. Even then, I’d benefit from the larger display. Not all apps support the squarish form factor, either. YouTube videos of course will only fill to fit a portion of the display. Although there are games like Asphalt 9, that are optimized to fill the display.
The Galaxy Fold doesn’t use a glass display, so there will always be creases in the middle. That’s just a limitation of the technology.
Otherwise, make no mistake — its a top of the line device. It’s got high end specs, and the same cameras as Samsung’s current flagship smartphones: three rear cameras and two selfie shooters up front.
Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are also available, along with a few other bells and whistles.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
I am excited about the Galaxy Fold, and am thrilled that it’s full steam ahead. It’s an early device and it can get only better with time. What needs to happen now is app developers and Android need to optimize for this new, niche form factor.
With a price tag of US$ 1,980 in the US, SG$ 3,088 in Singapore, and PhP 109,990 in the Philippines, the Galaxy Fold is not for everyone — not even for people who can buy it outright. It’s for early adapters who want to get their hands on new technology ahead of everyone.
Hotel Del Luna, Frozen 2: Now Playing
Get ready to have a magical adventure this November!
November started pretty magical. Right after Halloween, a lot has happened in the tech scene including the birth of the 108-megapixel monster, the Mi Note 10, and the resurrection of Motorola razr. In the midst of all these momentous launches, our team still found the time to catch up on the latest in pop culture. Here’s what’s Now Playing in GadgetMatch!
Movies to see
MJ: After six years, the most-awaited sequel is here to give us one last magical adventure. Set during the fall season, the film is about the adventures of Queen Elsa and her cohorts, seeking the truth about the past in order to protect the kingdom of Arendelle from a new threat. In between their adventures, we were rewarded with bursts of laughter, heartwarming lines, scenes that made us hold onto our seats, and lessons about change.
Frozen 2 — despite being a film made for kids and kids at heart — is a bit heavy for a Disney movie, with Elsa, Anna, and the rest of the crew enduring an emotional journey. However, the film is a call for us to go out of our comfort zones, head into the unknown, let our guard down, take chances, and risk in the name of love.
Ford v Ferrari
Kevin: The movie revolves around two special individuals — visionary car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and the fearless racer Ken Miles (Christian Bale). It was based on the historic Le Mans race in 1966 and tells the story of how car manufacturer Ford, wanted to beat the dominating cars of Ferrari and succeeded. Of course, with the help of Shelby and Miles.
Damon performed really well portraying his character but Bale completely transformed himself into another person yet again so you really feel the life of his character. Apart from that, another thing that stood out was the film’s sound design and how the cars’ engines roared and zoomed past you as if you were actually there. It’s simply an entertaining piece for all ages and a very refreshing movie about cars and racing without the overload in testosterone.
Luigi: Nothing beats a traditional whodunnit story. This oddjob of a story comes from The Last Jedi’s director, Rian Johnson. Like most mystery stories, everyone is a suspect and everyone is trapped. However, the story’s uniqueness comes from its wit and its stellar cast including a Chris Evans doing very non-Captain America things.
Shows to binge-watch
Hotel Del Luna
MJ: If you’re struggling with moving on, Hotel Del Luna is worth the watch. With themes about letting go, resentment, forgiveness, and love, it’s difficult not to fall in love with the show and its characters. It also has stunning cinematography and captivating soundtrack that would give you a different high even after you watched it. While people are iffy since it’s the talk of the town, this K-drama is definitely worth the hype. It’s one of the best shows I’ve watched this year, hands down.
La Casa De Papel (Money Heist)
Chay: Whether or not you’re a fan of foreign language material or stories about heists, there’s more to love about La Casa de Papel also known as Money Heist on Netflix. It tells many stories — stories of love, hope, inequality, injustice, and friendship. You will fall in love with one or two or three characters from the series. While a robbery sounds so wrong (it is, in fact, very wrong), you will find yourself rooting for the Money Heist squad to succeed.
The End of the F***ing World Season 2
Vincenz: The last season was a cliffhanger, and just like it, there were a lot of unexpected events that happened in the second installment of The End of the F***ing World — including several new characters. The portrayals of Alyssa and James may look apathetic but it’s for us to realize that actions speak louder than words, and there is always a bigger picture behind. I’m not trying to spoil but one thing I learned (that serves as a reminder for everyone): Say what you feel before it’s too late.
Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
Chay: I grew up watching shows about makeovers — from Clean House to How Do I Look? to Shabby Chic. Queer Eye is basically all those makeover TV series from the 90s combined, and more. Set in Tokyo, the latest season feels like Terrace House meets the Fab 5. Despite the language barrier, the stories of the heroes this season are just as heartwarming and inspiring as their American counterparts.
Chay: Fleabag is a comedy that often breaks the fourth wall to involve the audience in her mishaps. Her character is often perceived by everyone in her life to be up to no good — who fucks up everything — making her very relatable. The entire series is only two seasons long with six episodes each, making it an easy binge when you’re stuck in traffic.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Season 4
MJ: One of my favorites, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow took a magical turn as the heroes — well, they call themselves Legends — save the world from demons and magical creatures. The troop travels through time to fix and destroy these fugitives in order to protect history. It’s time to refresh your memories and binge-watch it before Season 5 begins in January 2020!
Luigi: HBO’s Watchmen was a huge surprise for me. As a fan of the original comic, I initially thought that this sequel series was either a weak adaptation of the original or an unnecessary sequel. Fortunately, Watchmen is a hugely entertaining balance between its own story and fan service. Old fans will delight in the numerous references to comic events. New fans, however, will appreciate the timely story deeply embedded in racial politics and technological progress.
Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to
Frozen 2 Original Soundtrack
Chay: Only time will tell if any of the new songs in the Frozen sequel will be a hit like ‘Let it Go’. My favorite in the soundtrack is ‘Lost in the Woods’, mostly because of the cheesy, albeit poignant, sequence in the movie featuring straight white male Kristoff. After belting it all out, Sven, his reindeer best friend, tells him, “Your feelings are real. Feel what you feel. Let your guard down and let your feelings out.” Toxic masculinity, whomstve?
Chay: New York Times’ popular column was recently adapted into an Amazon series and while everyone has been raving about it on my feed, I haven’t had the time to watch a single episode yet. Its podcast counterpart, however, is much easier to access and digest as the episodes are all available on Spotify. Each essay is performed by actors, and the authors also get a few minutes at the end to talk about their stories. Reading Modern Love articles has been my go-to commute companion for a while now, and having a podcast to listen won’t change that anytime soon.
Bomb by AleXa
Vincenz: AleXa is a Korean-American who recently made her debut as a K-Pop soloist. Unlike any other K-Pop song, it heavily relies on electronic sounds and heavy bass. Her powerful dancing performance and vocals add up to the invigorating song. The music video gives me a Cyberpunk 2077 vibe (and even the same feels as 2NE1’s ‘Come Back Home’).
Dumb by BVNDIT
Vincenz: BVNDIT (pronounced as bandit) continues to prove their female dominance with their latest upbeat, Latin pop song. Digging into the lyrics, it talks about a guy being “dumb” for not having the courage to pursue her — and it actually made her numb. Dark red visuals are dominant, which may signify that their love desire is dying. It gets better as their vocals and synchronized choreography continue to scream “power.”
Games to play
Luigi’s Mansion 3
Luigi: I can hear the groans already. “Of course, Luigi is suggesting Luigi’s Mansion 3.” Well, Luigi’s third outing as a ghostbuster is really one of the smoothest Nintendo Switch experiences I’ve had this year. This massive action-puzzle game is right up every Switch user’s alley. If (a) you have a Switch, (b) you need an appetizer before Pokemon Sword and Shield, or (c) you want a polished platformer, grab Luigi’s Mansion 3.
Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!
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