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Nintendo Pokemon Go Plus review: This monster-catching button makes you less of a Pokemon zombie

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The Good The Pokemon Go Plus turns some of the most monotonous parts of Pokemon Go into simple button presses. Saves phone battery. Discreet, easy-to-identify vibration patterns let you play without others noticing.

The Bad Loses connection often, and has to be manually reconnected. Doesn't make Pokemon Go a better game. Chunky plastic design leaves something to be desired.

The Bottom Line The Pokemon Go Plus might seem like an expensive accessory for a free app, but it can make Pokemon Go addiction symptoms more bearable.

6.5 Overall
  • Style 6
  • Features 7
  • Ease of use 6

You're addicted.

If you're seriously thinking about buying a Pokemon Go Plus, there are few other explanations.

It's a $35, £35 or AU$50 wearable pin that quietly alerts you to nearby Pokemon -- that way, you don't need to pull out your phone to play the uber-popular Pokemon Go game.

Like with the slot machine at a Vegas casino, all you're doing is repeatedly pushing that single button to capture Pokemon, collect items and advance in the game. Push, push, push.

Thing is, if you're a Pokemon Go addict, you like it that way.

Now playing: Watch this: What you look like playing Pokemon Go

What's a Pokemon Go addict?

Pokemon Go is not what it seems. While it might look like a cute pet simulator at first blush, you can't meaningfully advance in the game without harvesting every creature in your path. And the game is programmed specifically not to let you do that unless your phone is on, GPS is active, screen is on, locked to the game at all times. (You can't even answer an email without losing progress.)

It's easy to spot a Pokemon Go addict: They're the zombies with heads buried in phones with Pokemon Go always visible on the screen. Or telling other addicts how their phone's fully charged battery died at 2 p.m. because they couldn't stop playing.

The Pokemon Go Plus lets you pay to fix this broken state of affairs.

Updated October 21.


The Pokemon Go Plus neatly clips onto a lapel. It's a little chunky, though.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The basics

  • Pay $35, £35 or AU$50 assuming you can find one in stock. (Most stores sold out on Day 1.)
  • Admire the plastic pin you'll find in the box. (Yes, it IS a cross between a Google Maps pin and a Pokeball, and it's reasonably well built.)
  • Yank out the battery tape. (There's a standard CR2032 button battery inside that should last 100 days, according to Nintendo -- but we only saw a month. In the US, replacements sell for $4 on Amazon for a pack of 10.)

    How to hard-reset the Pokemon Go Plus if anything goes wrong.

    via r/PokemonGo
  • Pin it to your person (it's pretty OK at hanging onto pockets and lapels, but it could definitely fall off thin jeans), or unscrew the back cover if you'd rather attach it to the included, kinda blah, wristband instead.
  • Fire up the Pokemon Go app on your Android or iOS phone, then navigate to Settings > Pokemon Go Plus.
  • Tap the button on top of the pin, and the Pokemon Go Plus should magically appear on your phone's screen. Tap it there to finish pairing.
  • If you have any trouble, hold down the Pokemon Go Plus button until it turns blue, then immediately hold again until it vibrates to perform a hard reset.

With those steps out of the way, you should now be able to play most of Pokemon Go just by pressing that button, whenever it lights up. You can leave your phone in your pocket, purse or backpack without fear -- or even use it for other things while you play.

There's a slight learning curve to understanding what the pin's light and vibrations are trying to tell you, but you'll pick it up pretty fast. Plus, here's a cheat sheet:

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