Pokemon GO lovers travel to Canada's first 'Safari Zone'
Published Saturday, September 21, 2019 9:56PM EDT
Thousands of Pokemon GO lovers are flocking to a Montreal park to try their best to catch ‘em all.
Around 45,000 fans are expected to fill the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve at Parc Jean-Drapeau, where the very first “safari zone” event in Canada kicks off this weekend.
Many were wandering around the park in costume Saturday, searching for Pokemon and making new friends. One fan, dressed in a Pikachu costume, told CTV News Montreal that it was “really fun to see all the other people.”
“You don’t always get to meet them in the normal game play because it’s … an online community,” she said. “Seeing everyone together is kinda fun.”
The Pokemon franchise includes card games, TV shows, video games and movies, all of which centre around a universe where “trainers” use devices called Pokeballs to capture adorable “pocket monsters” known as Pokemon.
The mobile phone game Pokemon GO started a craze in 2016 when it was first launched by Niantic. Pokemon GO uses cellphone cameras to bring the monster-catching to the real world: the idea behind it is that users can hold up their cell phones and see Pokemon superimposed onto the actual setting around them, whether it is the inside of their house or the middle of a lake.
The concept of a safari zone goes back to the original Pokemon games, when players had to smash buttons on a GameBoy to get their pixelated counterparts to throw a Pokeball. Safari zones were regions in the game where players had to pay a fee to enter, and then were given a limited number of Pokeballs to attempt to capture Pokemon with, sometimes within a time limit.
Like the original safari zones, part of the appeal of the real -ife Safari Zone in Montreal is that the area is going to be packed with more Pokemon than average, and will contain some unique Pokemon that have never been seen in the area before.
“I think a lot of players come here in hopes of expanding their collection, in hopes of discovering shiny Pokémon," said Michael Sterenka, a senior manager with Niantic. (Shiny Pokemon are even rarer versions of ordinary Pokemon.) “But also so they can play with literally tens of thousands of other people who are just enjoying a beautiful summer day together.”
Montreal’s safari zone will feature team lounges so attendees can mingle with members of their “team” -- players choose a colour-coded team out of three when signing up, and compete against other teams -- and special prizes at Pokestops, the checkpoints for the game that players travel to in real life with their phones in order to attain certain advantages for gameplay.
Enough, it seems, to fill a park. Tickets for the Safari Zone went on sale back in August. It was completely sold out in just four hours.