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Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Fads come and fads 'Go'

by August 29, 2016 General

By Sumiko Tan, The Straits Times/Asia News Network
August 29, 2016, 8:00 am TWN

SINGAPORE — I’ve been going to a gym near my house a lot, and each time I’m there, my heart rate goes up.

If you’re one of the gazillion people around the world who have downloaded the “Pokemon Go” app, you’ll know that, these days, a gym isn’t a gym as we have always known it.

A gym is where you hang out so that your Pokemon monsters can fight other people’s monsters.

There are two gyms near where I live. One is a waterfall feature at the entrance of a condominium, and the other is a church.

I’ve visited both and, after much frantic tapping on my phone, have managed to control the gyms on three or four occasions. (I’m in Team Mystic.)

I’m a novice at “Pokemon Go.” I’m only at level 16 and have caught just 60 Pokemon. My most powerful is Vaporeon with a CP (combat power) of 1,156.

My favourite Pokemon is Eevee because of its adorable Bambi-like face and flicking bushy tail. I detest Rattata, the snaggle-toothed rat that pops up everywhere I go.

My most thrilling Pokemon encounter? It was at the office. I was working at my desk late one night with my phone switched on to the app when I felt a vibration and saw a swish of blue at the edge of the screen.

Gyarados?! I couldn’t believe my eyes, and it was one with a high CP of 977 too.

Pokemon sightings in the office have been limited to annoyingly common, low-grade critters like Magikarp, Psyduck and Pidgey. Gyarados is a much rarer Pokemon.

I wouldn’t say my fingers were trembling, but I was excited and nervous. One Razz Berry and two Great Balls later, Gyarados was in my bag. It was a great feeling.

H plays “Pokemon Go,” too, and over the past three weekends, our idea of fun has been to go around looking for monsters.

We were at Millenia Walk one Sunday when, taking the escalator up to Harvey Norman, Dragonite appeared on his screen.

I was trailing behind him (heading to a PokeStop outside the building actually) and he beckoned to me. Alas, Dragonite – an elusive Pokemon – was nowhere to be found when I got there.

He seems to have better luck than me in catching ’em monsters.

One of his eggs hatched and out came the much-sought-after Snorlax. Then, when he was walking in Chinatown, another Snorlax appeared (with a CP of 1,634) and he managed to catch it. He also has two Pikachu.

We send each other screengrabs of the rarer Pokemon we snare. We compare our Pokedexes.

One night after dinner, we decided to walk to a chapel nearby, which is a PokeStop.

After collecting our Pokeballs, we placed a Lure and sat on the kerb to wait for the monsters to appear. But it was a pretty useless Lure as only a few Rattatas showed up.

But we had a nice time. It was rather romantic, sitting by the road in the dark, shoulder to shoulder, smartphones aglow.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’d know that “Pokemon Go” is the latest fad.

It’s not just in Singapore, but also around the world, with more than 100 million downloads of the game so far.

It started making headlines when it was launched in the United States, Australia and New Zealand last month.

It was finally available in Singapore on Aug. 6 and the first two weekends were crazy. Everywhere you went, you saw people walking like zombies with their eyes trained on their phones.

There have been stories of Pokemon hunters making a nuisance of themselves in housing estates. Videos show amazing hordes of people camped out at playgrounds or dashing across roads en masse to hunt down rare Pokemon.