Gotta catch 'em all

Google Maps, Nintendo create Pokémon game on April Fools’ Day

On April 6, 2014

  • Last Tuesday, Google Maps launched a Pokemon version of Google Maps in honor of April Fools’ Day. The app included 150 Pokemon creatures that players could find to become the next Pokemaster. Courtesy of Google Maps

Pokémon Club Treasurer Kathryn Wiley is always cautious about any news that comes around April 1.

"When Google announced the Pokémon Map app, I thought it was a joke and thought that thousands of people would be wasting their time meticulously scavenging Google Maps for Pokémon that weren't there," said Wiley, a junior studio art major.

Wiley thought the joke would end with a video sent out by Google. When she found out the game wasn't an April Fools' joke, it was a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, Google released a fake video advertisement offering a job for one lucky fan to become a Pokémon Master. Any fan that went to Google for a job application soon found out that the position was a hoax.

But Google still took care of those crazed Pokémon fans.

On Google Maps, players can search around the world to find 150 Pokémon - that includes all six generations. Once a player catches all 150, he or she will have to catch the legendary Pokémon, Mew, to be a Pokémon Master.

Annmarie Agness, a junior general studio art major and Pokémon club member, was 4 or 5 years old when she got her first Pokémon game, Pokémon Yellow, and she has been playing them ever since. When she found out about the challenge Google sent out to fans, she was quick to embrace it and played the addicting game until her task was complete.

"I started at about 8 a.m. on April 1 and finished 12 hours later," Agness said. "I was playing it every chance I had until my phone died, twice."

Players began their search on the app at the Googleplex near Palo Alto, Calif., where there were a good amount of Pokémon, and quickly discovered that more Pokémon could be found in or near natural landmarks and major cities.

Agness found Pokémon at Mt. Everest and Mt. Vesuvius and cities like Paris and Dubai.  But she often hit a plateau.
"It got frustrating to keep searching and not find them around the 75-100 mark, just because you ended up finding the same ones over and over again," Agness said.

But that didn't stop her.

Finding the same Pokémon over and over doesn't complete the game. Players have to find new ones in order to beat the game, which motivated Agness.

After catching all 150 Pokémon in the game, Agness spent an additional two hours searching to catch Mew.

"I kept checking spots I guessed [Mew] would have been in," Agness said. "Like the Nintendo headquarters in Japan. A few times before, I found a Google Doc and a Reddit page of people posting coordinates where they found Mew."

When Agness was looking on social media sites, she didn't see it as cheating and wasn't doing it for the job.

Links on Reddit were telling her the legendary Pokémon was randomly appearing at the Bermuda Triangle.

But when she checked, she had no such luck.

"Eventually I found [Mew] at coordinates -0.2388, -50.411, which is around where the Amazon River reaches the Atlantic Ocean," Agness said.

Unlike Agness and Wiley, some Pokémon club members missed out on the fun.            

Amber Potter, a senior environmental studies major and Pokémon club president, sadly missed out on playing the game because she didn't have a smartphone. But she spent a lot of time listening to some of her club members talk about it.

She said several people "posted on the club's Facebook page about the game."

Players are still frantically scavenging the world in search of all 150 Pokémon and the elusive Mew. 

Although she couldn't play the Pokémon game, Potter believes Google Maps should come out with other games like this in the future.

"I think it would be great for Google to come out with similar games," Potter said. "I'd be tempted to get a smart phone just for that."



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