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Hands-on with Pokemon Go on its first day in Japan

Pokemon Go was launched in Japan today. I downloaded it on my Xperia Z2 at around noon and got a little game time on the way to and back from the gym, and later in the evening when I went to the supermarket in my neighborhood. I live in downtown Ueno, Tokyo.

My first experience with the app was not so impressive. I almost immediately was met with a bug. After I started the game, I got to customize my player a little bit, selected a nickname, and then as part of the tutorial, I captured Bulbasaur. However, Bulbasaur did not show up on my screen, both with AR on and off. I ended up randomly throwing Pokeballs at nothing (my bathroom door, actually) until it hit him.

On the way to the gym, I picked up some items from some random PokeStops around my neighborhood, and a couple of Pokemon. The app was working well, except for some significant delay with GPS tracking, which I think has to do with my part of town and not the app itself. I get the same issue when using Google Maps in the area where I live, probably caused by the many buildings here creating some sort of interference with GPS signals.

On the way back to the gym, I experienced a couple of glitches. First was that the app froze a couple of times while capturing Pokemon. Second, on two instances I couldn't log in. There were also occasions when the app wouldn't load the map properly. This was fixed with an app restart.

Another bug I found was the sound cutting out when a call or message comes in. I understand that for a call, the app probably intentionally cuts the sound out so you can take the call, but after the call, the audio never comes back.

I had a better experience with the app when I went out at night. The audio glitch happened again, and the slow GPS tracking was still there, but there were no freezes or loading issues.

In total, I captured 12 unique Pokemon today, the best one being Pinsir, with a CP of 216. I found him in front of an empty lot between a Chinese restaurant and a coffee bean store about 5 minutes away from my apartment. Also, at the very end of today's session, my character finally hit Level 5, which means I can now visit the in-game gyms. There's one around the block so I'll probably be checking that out tomorrow before work.

Although there were some issues with the game, I'd say it was overall a good first day for Niantic considering there was a lot of concern about whether or not the servers in Japan would be able to handle the extremely high demand for the game. And as for the bugs, I'm not too worried about it. I'm pretty sure they'll be ironed out in the coming weeks.

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