When Pokémon Go was first announced nearly two years ago, Niantic and Nintendo sold players on the concept with a trailer depicting trainers taking on Mewtwo in Times Square. Tonight in Yokohama, Japan, Pokémon Go more or less delivered on that promise as thousands of players worked together to catch the notorious legendary pokémon in a baseball stadium.
Pokémon Go events got off to an inglorious start last month with a disastrous gathering in Chicago that saw battles scuppered by spotty cell service. It was enough for Niantic to delay some of its scheduled European meetings altogether. But the Pokémon Go Stadium show went pretty much to plan.
That's not to say everything was flawless. The stadium battle was part of a larger pokémon invasion of Yokohama, and despite SoftBank putting up mobile cell towers around the city, networks and streets alike often got congested as a surprisingly large amount of people spent a rainy Monday afternoon searching for rare monsters like Unown and Mr. Mime. One raid for the legendary bird Zapdos, which will cease to be available after today, saw hundreds of players in Yokohama's Chinatown frustrated when the servers prevented them from joining the battle.
The Pikachu Carnival parade was even more chaotic, as spectators spilled onto the street to catch glimpses of the dancing electric mice. Set to deranged music and featuring an army of yellow-clad dancers chanting "pika pika pika pika," the parade was surely the most unhinged Pikachu-related moment since the infamous deflating incident.
But once inside Yokohama Stadium, everything went without a hitch. Players had to register for access through a lottery last month and were later assigned a time slot, which perhaps explains how Niantic was able to keep things under control — the whole event was a quick in-and-out affair. Once inside, players swiped a special pokéstop which prompted them to scan the QR code they received on entry, which in turn revealed a gym with a raid battle against Mewtwo.
Mewtwo was one of just two original pokémon yet to make an appearance in Pokémon Go, and its status as one of the series' best-known antagonists made it a fitting adversary for the Pokémon Go Stadium event. It wasn't quite as fearsome as you might have expected, though. With strength in numbers guaranteed by the stadium setting, my group took Mewtwo down pretty quickly; everyone around me was subsequently granted 52 premier pokéballs with which to capture Mewtwo, and everyone around me succeeded on the first try.
Although the organizers tried to give the event an epic feel by kicking it off with fireworks and showing live commentary on the video screens, it soon became clear that Mewtwo was by far the easiest legendary raid yet seen in Pokémon Go, which made it feel somewhat anticlimactic. But you can't blame Niantic for wanting everyone to go home happy — after the troubles in Chicago, a crowdpleaser of an event is exactly what the company needed.