For a game designed to get players exploring the world around them, Pokemon Go is quite the attention hog. It forces you to travel the world while your face is buried in the screen, either catching Pokemon, fighting in gyms, or eyeing for upcoming PokeStops as you walk down the street. Futhermore, since you can’t run the game in the background of your phone, it’s an all-consuming experience that stops you from performing other tasks while destroying your battery.
Pokemon Go Plus was designed to alleviate these issues. Off the strength of its one-button interface, it aims to take your attention away from the screen and onto your surroundings, allowing you to live your life while playing the game in a more passive manner. Is this highly sought after peripheral worth tracking down?
When you first open the box, the first thing that will catch you by surprise is its size. At about two inches tall, one inch wide and half an inch deep, it’s tiny. It’s about the size of a standard USB key. It will fit easily in your pocket or sit nicely on your wrist with the accompanying wristband. By default, the back of the unit has a clip that allows you to hook it to your clothing, though you’ll have to remove the backing in order to attach it to the wristband. You’ll need a small screwdriver for this, but it shouldn’t be an issue to install.
Getting it to work with your device is also a breeze. All you need to do is go into Pokemon Go Plus in the settings, hit the button on the Go Plus and sync the device to your phone. This process only takes a few seconds to complete.
With the Go Plus, you can spin PokeStops and catch Pokemon while the game is running in the background. This is a huge benefit, as you can still play the game while doing other stuff on your phone or while you keep your phone closed. You’ll save a bit of battery with the screen off; something that is very important to players of the game.
When you arrive near a PokeStop, the Go Plus will vibrate and the button will flash blue. Simply click on the button to spin the PokeStop and collect your items. I’ve found with PokeStops, there’s a bit of a delay with recognizing their presence. If you’re simply walking by, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you’re running by or passing by on a vehicle that’s moving quickly but still below the game’s speed limit, the Go Plus isn’t going to pick it up in time. For the most part, this is fine, as you should be playing the game at walking speed most of the time anyway.
For catching Pokemon, one of two things will happen. If you encounter a Pokemon you’ve caught before, the button will flash green. If you’re by a Pokemon you haven’t caught, the button will flash yellow. When you press the button, the Go Plus will attempt to catch the Pokemon. If you caught it, the button will flash in a rainbow, while it will flash red if it ran away.
The biggest caveat to this device is the way it catches Pokemon. It will only throw one regular PokeBall with no catch bonuses or curveballs. At that point, the Pokemon will either be caught or run away. In most cases where you’re catching junk like Pidgeys or Rattatas for XP and stardust, using the Go Plus works great. Yes, you won’t be as accurate or catch them at as high of a percentage, but you will spend far less time worrying about catching crappy Pokemon.
However, if you come across a 2600 CP Snorlax, keep the Go Plus in your pocket and catch it yourself. The good thing is that you can freely switch between these two catching methods at your leisure, giving you more control in how you play the game.
One other quirk of the device is that if you run out of regular PokeBalls, it won’t throw Great or Ultra balls. This part drives me nuts, as I would prefer the unit to throw those instead. My gut says they do this to prevent players from never turning the game on. However, it’s super annoying when the game refuses to use the PokeBalls you have handy.
This device has some annoying quirks, but overall, it’s a net positive for active Pokemon Go players. Freeing your eyes, hands and phone from the game allows you to play the game in a more passive manner. Just hit the button tucked away in your pocket and check out what you scored afterwards. During a time when the device is difficult to find, it’s not worth buying at third party resale prices. However, if you’re lucky enough to score one at a store, do it!