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Pokémon is the portmanteau of “pocket monsters,” and an insanely popular franchise with a just as insanely long history. In Pokémon, monsters roam the lands, and your job is to find, capture, and train them. Then you put them in battle against other players. Growing up, I played the heck out of the original Pokémon games on the Nintendo Game Boy, and followed those adventures through a few more generations of handheld game console. I collected the trading cards and obsessed over the (still running) TV series. Fortunately, youdon’t need any previous Pokémon experience to enjoy Pokémon Go.

 

Pokémon Go is a free-to-play mobile app that you can download for iOS orAndroid. It’s free to download and start playing, but you have the option to use real money to buy in-game currency called PokéCoins. (Between $0.99 for 100 PokéCoins and up to $99.99 for 14,500.) Those PokéCoins are used to purchase Pokéballs, the in-game item you need to be able to catch Pokémon. Now you don’t have to spend real money, but that simply means you need to pay with your time and energy (which is the fun of it, anyway!).

The game works by using your phone’s GPS for your real-world location and augmented reality to bring up those cool-looking Pokémon on your screen, overlaid on top of what you see in front of you. And you—the digital you—can be customized with clothing, a faction (or “team” of players you can join) and other options, and you level up as you play.

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