I'm giving 'Pokémon Go' another try

It's not just because the game is turning two.

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I'll be the first to admit that I am not a serious Pokémon player. I don't know a Kanto from a Johto, and really have no clue where an Alolan Exeggutor comes from. Still, when Pokémon Go came out for mobile two years ago, this almost 50-year old was outside with everyone else in our downtown area, capturing little pocket monsters and trying to take over gyms.

There were a solid few months where it seemed like Pokémon Go players were everywhere. I'd see them in the mall, at the playground, walking the various bike and footpaths here in town. People I only knew from Facebook would suddenly appear in real life, swiping up furiously on their phones and cackling when they caught a particularly rare species. We would head for specific breweries that had a Pokémon gym right outside, quaffing some local beers while waiting for it to cool down so we could hit it again. There were players of all ages outside: men, women, children, teenagers, folks older than me (gasp) wearing sturdy shoes and shielding their screens from the July sun to better see the nearby virtual creatures. Engaging with others within the zeitgeist of the game was just as fun as playing it. I suddenly had an easy topic of conversation with pretty much everyone I knew as well as strangers sitting outside in my town.

Now, two years later, you won't see crowds gathered to catch them all. I found other titles to play, letting Pokémon Go languish on my iPhone in a folder called "Nostalgia." The only time I've launched it in the past year or so is to play alongside a young niece or nephew, or to check and see if there's anything exciting happening. The last time I spent any serious time with the title was when you could add a Pokémon buddy (I chose Lapras as my pet). Other than that, for the most part, there hasn't been much drawing me back.

However, I'm thinking it might be time to update the app and give it one more go. There are a couple of Pokémon Go things happening now that might get me (and maybe some other folks) outside again, looking for the goofy monsters. The imminent release of Let's Go, Pikachu and Let's Go, Eevee for the Nintendo Switch has me all excited. Apparently, you'll be able to move your Pokémon from your mobile phone to the hybrid console, giving you a leg up in collecting the adorable beasts for the new titles. It's a whole new reason to play.

I'm also excited by this new Trading feature. When I was a kid (sigh), we used to trade and battle baseball cards on the playground. While I don't want to buy a bunch of Pokémon cards at this point in my life to start trading them with other players, I surely am intrigued by the ability to trade creatures with my friends. The new Friendship system is tied in to trading, letting you swap monsters with other players nearby for varying amounts of stardust, the in-game currency.

If nothing else, I'll get out into the seasonably warm summer weather for a few weeks and play with all the new features of Pokémon Go. Even if the fun only lasts a little while again, I'm willing to give it a chance to take over my life for a bit. I hope to see you out there, too.

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