Pokemon Go (Android, iOS) has become summer's smash-hit app, propelling teams of traditionally chair-bound gamers out to track and trap elusive little pocket monsters. If you're feeling left behind, not having paid attention to Pokemon since the late '90s, our quick guide will get you caught up.

What are Pokemon?

A Pokemon, short for "pocket monster," is a fictional animated creature that can be captured, raised, and used to fight duels. You, as the Pokemon Trainer, capture and train your Pokemon to battle other Pokemon.

Pokemon the series started as videogames in the mid-1990s, then expanded into films, cartoon series, and trading card games.

What is the object of Pokemon Go?

In this augmented-reality mobile game, you use your phone's camera and GPS to track and trap wild Pokemon as you move around in the real world.

How do you to track and trap wild Pokemon?

Move around until new Pokemon appear in your vicinity. If you're not paying attention, your phone may vibrate to alert you. Head out to a variety of locales to attract a diverse assortment of monsters. You may also use incense to lure them to you.

Once they're nearby, they'll appear in the Nearby Pokemon section, which notes how far away they are. To capture Pokemon, tap your Bag to pull out a Poke Ball, and a target ring will appear around the monster. Swipe to fling the ball at the Pokemon to capture it.

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What are the items on your Pokemon Go map?

In our annotated map below, you can see, starting in the top-right corner and working clockwise:

  1. The compass
  2. A PokeStop
  3. Nearby Pokemon
  4. Main Menu
  5. Profile Icon
  6. The Pokemon Trainer
  7. A Gym

    pokemongomap.png

How do you gather items?

As you walk around, your maps will display PokeStops. As you get close to one, tap it and then spin the Main Menu button (the center photo disc) to gain items, including PokeBall, Potion, Egg, and Revive.

pokemongoitems.png

How do you level up and earn achievements?

To increase your trainer level, you must amass experience points. Maximize your points by targeting a diverse group of Pokemon. To earn medals, keep hitting milestones, such as catching 10 flying-type Pokemon or registering 5 Pokemon in the Pokedex.

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How do you hatch Pokemon eggs?

Hatching a Pokemon egg requires an egg Incubator. All players start with one reusable Incubator in their inventory. An egg placed inside will hatch after a certain distance (2 to 10km) is traversed by the trainer. The distance varies depending on the egg: the greater the distance, the rarer the Pokemon hatched.

How do you evolve your Pokemon?

Keep catching Pokemon of a particular species to earn candy specific to that species. To evolve your Pokemon, tap the Main Menu button in Map View, then the Pokemon button, and then select one Pokemon from your collection to evolve.

What teams can you join?

Upon reaching Level 5, players are asked to join one of three teams; Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red) and Team Instinct (Yellow). Picking a team means picking allies for future player vs player battles but has no effect on regular gameplay. Teams can battle each other to capture and control Gyms.

What are Gyms?

Gyms are special locations (usually noticeable landmarks in your area) where players from different teams can fight battles with their Pokemon. Capture and control Gyms, and you'll be rewarded with Pokecoins that can be spent on items in the game. Opposing teams can attempt to capture Gyms by battling and lowering the Prestige (health) of the Gym. Defending teams can assign their own Pokemon to guard a captured Gym against would-be invaders.

pokemongogymlocation.png

How do you train Pokemon?

Choose a single Pokemon to battle against another Pokemon in a friendly Gym. This training also earns you more experience points and increases the prestige of your Gym.

Can you play with other people?

By joining teams, you can battle with other players and capture Gyms. Future updates may include trading Pokemon with other players and battling with friends.

Is this game free to play?

Pokemon Go is free to play, with the option of using real money to purchase Pokecoin that you can trade for premium items.

Are you experiencing Pokemon Go connection difficulties?

Niantic, the maker of the Pokemon Go game, says some users are experiencing connectivity issues that result in a lost connection to the Pokemon Go servers. Niantic said it is well aware of the issue and is working on it. If you experience odd game behavior, such as the disappearance of a collected or purchased item, Niantic recommends you log out of the game and then back in, and even restart your device to retrieve your missing item.

Is the game a battery drain?

Niantic says the game does significantly shorten battery life on some phones, and it is working on a fix.

What is Pokemon Go Plus?

Pokemon Go Plus is an add-on that you can wear as a bracelet. Through Bluetooth, it connects to your smartphone and alerts you when you're near a PokeStop or when a Pokemon is within reach, so you don't have to have your phone out all the time to play. Pokemon Go Plus is available for pre-order at GameStop for a July 31 release.

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Joshua Rotter is a copy editor for Download.com and covers iOS.