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Gotta Catch ‘Em All… Soon.

By Andre Joshua T. Aniñon

Ever since its release in 1998, Nintendo’s revolutionary Pokémon franchise has managed to capture the hearts of gamers far and wide. It has them buckling a belt of homemade Poké Balls around their waists, cutting off cardboard pieces as makeshift PokéDexes and dreaming of the day that Pokémon appears in the real world. With last week’s release of “Pokemon Go,” the newest addition to the franchise, that dream is brought closer to reality.

What was once a black and white universe in a low-resolution GameBoy screen has evolved to a 3-D augmented reality game in Android and iOS systems.

Is Pikachu strolling along the Amphitheater? Is Jigglypuff warming up backstage at the Luce Auditorium? Can Arceus be found at the end of the four-floor climb at Ausejo Hall? With “Pokémon Go,” these questions can finally be answered…

Along with the waves of excitement that surged through the internet during the game’s release, the developers made some heartbreaking announcements. According to Nintendo and Niantic Labs, players outside of selected countries are blocked from accessing the game’s servers. Ever encountered a wild “This video is not available in your country” notice while exploring YouTube? The same applies for “Pokemon Go.” Trainers in the Philippines who dream to be the very best will have to set aside their Poké Balls and their Pokémon Master aspirations for the time being. Bummer.

Due to these geographical restrictions, some trainers chose to put on their Team Rocket apparel. Various trainers have done turn-around techniques to evade the server lock, such as downloading the leaked Android application package (APK) and manually installing it on their phones, or changing the country setting of the App Store to one where “Pokemon Go” is available. These tricks may have been successful, but remember Team Rocket’s plans always go kaput after some time.

According to a Pop article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Nintendo and Niantic Labs are tracking down those who have downloaded the APK—and are consequently banning not their accounts, but their devices. Even if “Pokémon Go” is officially released in the Philippines, these devices cannot play the game until the ban is lifted—possible only through reformatting or restoring the affected device to factory settings. Team Rocket is indeed blasting off again.

Just like how trainers are patient in waiting for their berries to sprout, for their Pokémon egg to hatch or for their Magikarp to reach level 20, the best thing Pokémon Masters-to-be can do is to wait. The Pokémon League will not reprimand them, and their devices will be safe. If done the right way, trainers will not encounter any trouble in coming across available Pokémon in their area.

Is Lapras surfing through the Boulevard? Is Chansey aiding nurses at SUMC? We will know soon. “Pokemon Go” in the Philippines will see the light of day—and with it, the legendary Ho-Oh painting a rainbow across the sky. All we have to do is to wait.

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