Whenever the media latches onto a big trend, I check my watch and start counting down the hours – nay, the seconds – until the same papers and websites declare, "Well, the fad is dead, absolutely nobody cares about this thing anymore. Moving on."
Pokémon GO is an excellent example of a popular thing that was declared dead despite retaining a very healthy fanbase (and despite suffering recent server issues that are unquestionably traffic-related). True, the popularity of the Pokémon-hunting game / app was unprecedented; nobody predicted that it'd become an overnight phenomenon, even Niantic. But popularity isn't exactly a switch that can be flipped on and off. When a white-hot star cools down a bit, nobody says "OK, well, I guess it's OK to touch this thing now."
Yes, the dust around Pokémon GO inevitably settled. People who just downloaded the app to see what the fuss was about fell off. Rural players got bored of not finding any good Pokémon, Gyms, or Stops. The weather got colder, making people feel less motivated to go outdoors and hunt down Pikachu.
But a significant percentage of Pokémon GO players stuck with the app, and they still check it on a near-daily basis. As of April 2017, Pokémon GO has 65 million monthly active players – and that number was released before Niantic renovated the game's Gyms in time for the summer weather. As of August 1, Pokémon GO is the sixth top-grossing app on the iOS App Store, and the only games bringing in more dosh are Clash of Clans and Candy Crush. Our very own Pokémon GO guides still attract a great deal of traffic.
Given the Pokémon franchise's phenomenal stamina, I wouldn't be surprised to see Pokémon GO continue its undulating pattern from year to year. Usage will probably sink in the winter, then revive in the summer as Niantic adds more gyms and more Pokémon, and as people go outside more. In other words, Pokémon GO's not GO-ing anywhere, even though the media started singing eulogies for it by September of last year.
Again, the hype that gushed from Pokémon GO's launch was unlike anything I've ever seen, and I've been doing this games media thing for a little while now. I guess I can understand why the general media would shrug and say "it's done" once things calmed down even by a smidge, but the simplest bit of research on mobile market trends says the exact opposite. Pokémon GO is alive and well, and it's destined to be as much a mainstay on the App Store charts as Clash of Clans, Minecraft, and whatever manner of match-three candy hell King chooses to inflict upon us in the future.
Look, all I'm saying is that someone in my neighborhood is out there kicking the shit out of Bonnie Tyler on a daily basis.
(That's what I named my Vaporeon.)
Featured Midboss of the Week
Sit down, because I have some shocking news for you: I'm reviewing Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 for USgamer. Look for my full review next week, but in the meantime, let's talk a bit about one of the most under-appreciated games in the entire series: Mega Man 7.
Mega Man 7 is the only mainline original Mega Man title to make it on the SNES. The 16-bit console was typically Mega Man X's stomping grounds, and I think that hobbled Mega Man 7 from the beginning; people were confused to see classic Mega Man mechanics on the SNES. Mega Man 7 has no wall-jumping, and no dashing. It's a less elegant experience than what you get with the Mega Man X titles, but that's by design.
Mega Man 7 also has a lighter heart than any of the X games. There are googly-eyed robots galore, including screen-filling midbosses. Ah, yes. That's the stuff. Mega Man games have never skimped on its midbosses. Nobody ever forgets their first Dragon jump-scare in Mega Man 2.
I like reptilian robots, so I also like King Gojulus, the pink-scaled Tyrannosaurus Rex 'bot that guards Slash Man. The big brute chases Mega Man into a dead end, and then the fight begins. Gojulus is a pushover, to be honest. He can breathe fire and shoot projectiles, but Mega Man just has to sock him in the jaw a few times with Junk Shield to bring the struggle to its conclusion.
Nevertheless, the Gojulus fight is the sum of its parts: The thrill of the chase, the satisfying stomping sounds, and the overgrown jungle environs. Heck, Slash Man's not-subtle take on Jurassic Park is one of my favorite Mega Man stages of all time, even if it inspired one of history's worst cartoon episodes.