First up, if you love this game and have no issues - Great! We don't want to put you on a downer or go recruiting so maybe this isn't the article for you. However, if you feel you need your life back, or if you've ever wondered why all you local gyms are full of maxxed Dragonites when they virtually-never appear in your area - read on...
There are few people that haven’t been annoyed by Pokemon Go at some point. But if you’re anything like us, you feel like you’ve come too far to quit. We did give up for a while but the Halloween and Christmas Special Events got their hooks set and reeled us back in. As such we found ourselves having walked and jogged for over a hundred kilometres, with only a few more mons to catch, before we could triumphantly say that we’d caught ‘em all.
With Christmas gone we just had a few more to capture: unique creatures we’d only seen in gyms: a Porygon, Chancey, Lapras plus some evolutions that required a LOT of walking: Kabutops, Omastar and Alakazam.
So with the announcement of the Valentine’s Day Special Event, where all pink Pokemon would spawn way more frequently, it seemed like a great, reinvigorating time to play and finally get a rare Chansey and Porygon. The event also meant that eggs would give out some 40 candies and require less walking distance to hatch, that Buddys would only need to walk half as far before finding that candy and that any Pokemon caught would give six candies instead of three. What’s not to like? After weeks of walking our Grimer and Koffing to get more than 60 candies to evolve them into a Muk and a Weezing, we caught a final Grimer, (thereby skipping the final 15KM of required walking) and crossed it off our list. But that's as good as it got.
Why you’re not going to win at Pokemon if you haven’t already
We’re based in Sydney, Australia. Despite international sightings of Chanseys and Porygons in major cities, it quickly became clear that all we were getting was the occasional Lickitung and a flood of Clefairies which had gone from common-as rats-to plague-of-cockroach levels.
Then news started filtering through that if you didn’t already live somewhere that Porygons and Chansey’s already spawned then you weren’t going to get any in this Valentine's Day Special Event (or ever).
Now we’ve been good, loyal players, doing everything by the book for the most part. We’ve been stuck in this slow-moving queue believing that if we queued up long enough we’d eventually be rewarded with getting everything legitimately. But here’s the news…
It’s all stick and no carrot
Checking out The Silph Road website, which maps user-submitted spawns and nests near where we lived. That left us looking at the remaining goals of this game being simply to walk almost 400km just to get a Kabutops, Omastar and Alakazam – minus the bonus distance gained from the Valentine’s Event coupled with the once-a-month candies gained from actually catching one. We went from jaded to CBF'd.
How was this fun? It was time to walk away but we couldn’t. Not after having come so far.
Meanwhile New York and London were raving about all the extra Pokemon available to them. Chanseys and Porygons were apparently everywhere. So for the first time we installed a (quite brilliant) GPS spoofing app and virtually-visited New York.
How to hack Pokemon with a GPS location cheat
1. Download and install a ‘GPS Hack’ app. We used ‘Fake GPS JoyStick.’ On iOS just search for 'GPS Hack' and you'll be presented with many choices.
2. On Android you need to enter Developer Mode to tell your device to stop using the built-in GPS and instead use the one you’ve just installed. Here’s how to do that.
3. Go to The Silph Road to identify nests in locations that you need.
4. Open your app and set your location to match the Silph Road nests. Or just go to New York, Hong Kong, Central London or somewhere cosmopolitan and Poke-crazy like that.
In Fake GPS JoyStick use the virtual joystick to walk around. You can change speed using the slider at the bottom of the joystick, you can move the joystick around the screen with the icon at the top right. Below that is an icon to enter latitude and longitude coordinates and the icon below that opens the map.
5. You’ll find yourself in ‘Soft Ban’ mode because the game will recognize you’ve just travelled an impossible distance in record time. This means that while you can walk around (and gain distance for doing so) you can’t spin any Pokestops, battle in gyms and any Pokemon you try and capture will simply run away after the first attempt (we learned that the hard way).
The way to get round the Soft Ban is to go up to a Pokestop and spin it and leave, spin it and leave, spin it and leave until the Pokestop turns purple and gives you stuff. You may have to do this 20-30 times. But it works. Thanks to Steve Baby for telling us about that one.
Now you can walk around anywhere in the world. It turns out it’s actually quite fun looking at Pokestop landmarks in famous places. Enjoy!
(Note: Doing this could very well get your account banned. While this may be the final cold turkey that many people need, it could also come as a nasty shock. Either way, we recommend doing this sparingly)
Oh, how the other half lives!
What an eye opener! What have we been doing with our lives? Literally. Within minutes of arriving near Central Park half a Pokedex of pokemon had spawned in front of us including a Snorlax, several Porygons, Seels, Pikachus the lot.
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As mentioned before, it’s like standing in a queue for months only to realise that you’re in the wrong queue and everyone else is actually at the end having fun while you’re head down grinding out kilometres just so a small brown blob can, at the end of the day, complete a blue circle. The highlight of our gaming life was seeing that some distance travelled on the bus counted towards walking our Buddy. How dumb have we been?
To cut a long story short, we then spent the next hour locating Pokemon nests around the globe and quickly capturing the ones we needed. With the Valentine's Day Event providing bonus candy for captures, in no time we’d got our Chansey, Porygon (and a Tauros) plus evolved a Kabutops and Omastar.
Every time, we felt a tinge of guilt about cheating we reminded ourselves that each Kabuto caught meant over 18km we didn’t need to travel to grind out the equivalent number of candies. We also remembered that we were pretty-much being conned into paying for items that were unnecessary in other regions.
We left New York for Hong Kong and started mopping up Abras (while searching for a Farfetche'd and a Lapras) – six candies a pop – and even bumped into a Kadabra. In the space of twenty minutes we’d gone from a very-hard-fought Kadbra with 40 candies to a full Alakazam thanks to the 100 candies gained from captures and a lot of virtual Abra walking.
That final Alakazam evolution represented about 150KM saved in walking and more than three solid days looking at a phone. Think about that.
This should be part of the game
And here’s the thing. When the FastPokeMap (and others) appeared, kids everywhere taught themselves how to read maps and went off orienteering in order to catch stuff. It was brilliant. Learning has never been so fun. It got them outdoors and taught them a real life skill. And yet Niantic took that away and killed it as a feature (losing customers while doing so).
Meanwhile, simply using this GPS hack to jaunt around New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo has actually represented more fun than we’ve had on Pokemon go for months! This too should be part of the game. If only we could do that and interact with other players. Imagine the school projects that teachers could set!
A cursory glance at the /r/pokemongo subreddit quickly shows the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. Yet the haves are still playing – grabbing more and more ’rare’ Pokemon, battling at the multitude of gyms and hording rare candies that will see them progress quickly when Generation 2 goes live.
Why isn’t the game like that for everyone? It’s a major flaw.
Sure, there are many people who love jogging/walking/grinding and they enjoy playing the game their way, but many others are just deluding themselves and wasting their lives, staring forlornly at a phone waiting for a Pokemon to appear that never will… all while other people elsewhere are tripping over the exact same Pokemon because they're not actually rare at all... they're just elsewhere.
We started off writing this as a way to cut the cord and sour the milk by completing Gen 1 so that we’d be free to walk away and not get sucked into an impossible-to-complete Generation 2 nightmare that, among other things, expects you to collect enough Hitmon Lee and Hitmon Chan candy to evolve another new Pokemon. That stuff is like Rocking Horse shit to most people and yet, in our virtual jaunt to New York we bumped into a Hitmon Chan within five minutes. Beforehand we’d seen one, on a trip to London, in several months.
We don’t need that disparity in our lives. Now we're sad... but free.
And yet, now we know how to hack it into a playable game, we're having fun again so maybe we’ll stick around. After all, we never did find a Lapras or Farfetch'd. And we've got to catch 'em all.