Pokemon Go Took Over a City in Japan for a Safari Zone | Gaming News
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A city-wide event with special appearances from Pikachu and Eevee.
Pokemon Go is no stranger to live events. Aside from a messy debut in Chicago last year and a redeeming follow-up last month, Pokemon Go has held more than half a dozen Safari Zone events across Europe and Asia, spanning locations from The Netherlands to Taiwan.
This week, the latest Safari Zone is in Yokosuka, Japan, a waterfront city roughly 90 minutes outside of Tokyo. The August timeframe for a Japan event was taken last year by the city of Yokohama, which declined to hold a follow-up event this year after over-attendance caused traffic problems and delays in 2017. In contrast, the city of Yokosuka has welcomed Pokemon Go with open arms.
Before the festivities officially began, Tech attended an opening ceremony for the Safari Zone hosted by the mayor of Yokosuka himself. Proudly wearing a Pokemon Go shirt for the event, it was clear that a partnership with Pokemon means a lot to Yokosuka and is something the city is taking seriously. In turn, Niantic and The Pokemon Company are embracing Yokosuka, making a full show of support and even bringing a surprise appearance from the official Pikachu and Eevee mascots.
Even as someone who has attended Chicago and Europe Pokemon Go events, Yokosuka was a sight to behold. A gigantic portion of the city was taken over by an absolutely massive walking path indicated in-game by clusters of PokeStops. The event had three central zones in city parks – Verny Park, Mikasa Park, and the flower park, Kurihama Hana no Kuni. Each park served as a hub for the event, with in-game check-in and rare Pokemon spawns including Tropius, who is normally exclusive to Africa, and Unown (Pokemon who resemble letters) that spelled out YOKOSUKA GO!.
But while these parks were the major points of interest, support for the Safari Zone could be found all across the city. Local businesses displayed Pokemon Go posters and some were even handing out Pokemon Go stickers and merchandise. Speakers spread across the city blared Pokemon Go music, and banners advertising the event hung from lamp posts on major streets.
Avoiding the cellular signal bottlenecks from previous live events, Niantic spread event Pokemon across the entire city, including rare Pokemon like Feebas and the Hoenn starters, and Pokemon with possible shiny variants like Pikachu, Eevee and Swablu. The event also marked the introduction of shiny Wingull and Pelipper to the game, and Wingull spawns were boosted throughout the city to celebrate.
The event also introduced new Special Research for Yokosuka, which was previously reserved only for quests to obtain Mythical Pokemon. In Yokosuka, the research was instead meant to encourage exploration around the city, tasking players with hatching three eggs (which can only be done by walking) and catching 10 each of rare Pokemon Slakoth, Ralts, and Beldum. The rewards were massive, including the hard-to-find Rare Candy, spawns of fully evolved Pokemon Slaking, Metagross, and Gardevoir that are normally impossible to find in the wild, and 100,000 Stardust.
While Niantic hasn’t released attendance numbers yet from the first day, thousands of players could be seen across Yokosuka, and the game ran flawlessly for the duration thanks to additional temporary cellular towers installed throughout the city by providers like Docomo and SoftBank.
After attending several Pokemon Go events, this one is a new favorite of mine thanks to the peaceful seaside aesthetic of Yokosuka’s beautiful water views and the palpable enthusiasm of the city itself. Adding in the fantastic in-game rewards, this felt like an absolute gold standard for Pokemon Go events, and one that I hope Niantic is able to replicate as it holds new events moving forward.
The invitation-only Yokosuka Safari Zone will continue to run throughout the week, ending on Sunday, September 2. For much more on Pokemon, read everything you’ve missed if you haven’t played Pokemon Go since launch, plus check out more from Pokemon in Japan including the special Let’s Go Pikachu-themed train and what it’s like inside the Pokemon Cafe.
Andrew is Tech’s executive editor of news and currently has a 100% complete Pokedex in Pokemon Go. You can find him rambling about Persona and cute animals on Twitter.