People young and old rushed to try out “Pokemon Go” on Friday, snaring monsters on the streets of Tokyo and searching for them in trains and offices as the GPS-crossover game finally launched in Japan.
On Friday morning, some hard-core Pokemon fans gathered in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, the gamers’ enclave.
Yotaro Asayama, a 19-year-old student, said he was hooked.
“I’d been checking the app store once every hour,” Asayama said. A longtime Pokemon gamer, he said he has been playing the series since Pokemon Emerald was released in 2004.
“I’ve captured 24 Pokemon already. It’s very easy to play, even for beginners,” he said.
Another student agreed.
“I’ve been waiting forever for the release,” said a 22-year-old who gave his name as Kakizawa. He said he had been playing the game around Akihabara Station since 10 a.m., when the app was released in Japan.
“I’ve caught some Pokemon, but not the rare ones yet. I want to capture a Snorlax. My friend in the U.S. told me that he captured one, and I was very envious,” he said.
Even some businessmen seemed to be hooked.
“I played the first generation Pokemon when I was a child. I’m not sure which Pokemon I should be chasing after, but I definitely want to capture as many as possible,” said an office worker in his 30s, who was playing the game during his lunch break.
He said he also enjoys playing “Ingress,” another GPS-based game released by Niantic Inc., the developer behind Pokemon Go.
“Pokemon Go is very easy to play compared with Ingress. I’d say it could get explosively popular in Japan, both for how easy it is to play and for how much fun it is,” he said.
“Since the characters are cute, I think it will be played by all generations including kids.”
Meanwhile, at the Pokemon Center souvenir shop at Tokyo Station, many people were quietly fiddling with their phones. The center is one of the city’s numerous “PokeStops,” real-life landmarks where gamers can collect Pokemon and “Monster Balls,” which are tossed to catch the monsters.
“I realize that many people who were never interested in Pokemon games are interested in Pokemon Go,” a 20-year-old woman from Osaka Prefecture said.
“Obviously, it’s very different from previous games, being a smartphone game and being offered for free.”
Hirokazu Kikuchi, 38, from Tochigi Prefecture was visiting the store with his 8-year-old son. He had just installed the app and was trying it out but had some reservations.
“I’m worried about my phone battery going down so fast,” he said. “I’m also worried about the communications costs. I hope mobile phone carriers will come up with a plan so people can play without worrying about the cost.”
Shizuka Miura, a 41-year-old mother of a 3-year-old girl from Tokyo’s Itabashi Ward who was visiting the store, was unaware the app had been launched.
“To be honest, I don’t like the idea of adults playing it, because that would inevitably affect children’s behavior,” she said.
“I like Pokemon characters, but to those who are not interested in playing the game, it’s a nuisance.”
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