Pokemon Go mania is taking over Portsmouth.
The new smartphone game was released in the UK yesterday, with hundreds of eager gamers from the city rushing to join the craze, which has taken the world by storm.
The game allows players to catch Pokémon creatures in ‘real life’ by using their phone’s GPS location data to track down the elusive animals.
Users must walk around their area to find nearby Pokémon, and battle rival players in ‘gyms’ – that can be anywhere from Portsmouth’s Commercial Road to Southsea’s Blue Reef Aquarium.
And already the city is building up a big community of Pokémon ‘trainers’.
Almost 1,000 people have joined the Pokémon Go Portsmouth Facebook page, with dozens of gamers flocking to Portsmouth’s Victoria Park to capture the pocket monsters.
Phil Crawford, 25, set up the city’s Pokémon Go page with his fiancé, Georgia Williams, 24.
The duo was inspired to launch the site on Sunday after stumbling across dozens of other players during a walk in the city.
He said: ‘It’s just insane. There are so many people playing it right now.
‘You can go into Victoria Park and just see loads of people out with their phones trying to catch Pokémon.
‘There’s a really nice community building in the city. Everyone is really friendly.
‘There are people in their 20s playing it; children are playing it – I’ve even seen people in their 60s playing.’
The free app was first released in the US, Australia and Germany but some UK gamers found ways around the country restriction to get early access.
The game uses a smartphone’s GPS location and real-world maps to track players as they move around.
Gamers can visit Pokéstops – typically landmarks or buildings – and collect free items in the game.
The main aim is to catch Pokémon, which pop up along the way. The game provides an ‘augmented reality’ experience, using the smartphone’s camera to provide a live view of the world, with Pokémon superimposed.
Any creatures caught can be used in battle against other players at Pokémon gyms – also real-world landmarks.
Phil added: ‘I’ve loved Pokémon since I was a kid so it’s crazy to see it’s coming back in such a massive way.’
In just three days it was downloaded 7.5m times in the United States.