Pokémon GO Plus is a pretty odd device. It’s something that acts as a sort of “shortcut” for a game that is already pretty basic to begin with, but it has more features than many assumed it would. Unfortunately, the price is that you are tasked with transporting around what might be the single dorkiest game peripheral known to man.
In its native state, Pokémon GO Plus has a clip that allows you to attach it to your pocket or your belt, and weirdly, it takes a small screwdriver to actually allow you to attach it to the ‘90s-style cloth bracelet so you can wear it on your wrist.
But functionality, not style, is why players are clamoring for one of these things, and it does a bit more than anyone was anticipating, and certainly more than Nintendo’s own marketing department was indicating. Pokémon GO Plus tracks distance for eggs and buddies with the app in the background, or more importantly, with your phone locked. The way it does this is by communicating with GO the same way say, Google Maps does when you’re actively using GPS.
What tracking-while-locked actually does for the game is save battery life, but not as much as you might think. Yes, using Pokémon GO Plus is better than having the game open and active on your screen all the time, but it’s using GPS, and every time you spin a PokéStop or catch a Pokémon, a notification flashes on your phone, lighting up the screen. So while battery usage is reduced, using Plus will still drain it pretty consistently.
The Plus buzzes when you get near PokéStops, then once you hit the button, will buzz once for each item you receive. The Plus buzzes in a more prolonged fashion when Pokémon appear, and pressing the button then will cue the 1…2…3 shake players are familiar with from the base game, and then the device will flash red or green depend on if you caught the Pokémon, or it fled. You only get one shot.
Now is it worth it? There are specific instances where this would prove useful and having your phone out is unwise or dangerous or you have just zero battery life and want to keep playing, but I feel like that would be pretty situational. For normal players who enjoy playing Pokémon GO, using Plus is playing no more than 10% of the game at best, reducing literally everything to the press of a single button.
So while I am impressed with Pokémon GO Plus’s functionality, I’m not convinced that it’s some revolutionary device that’s going to change the way people play the game. I don’t think enthusiasm for Pokémon GO will necessarily translate into enthusiasm for pressing a buzzing button every so often. When you can play the actual game, play the actual game, and Plus seems like it’s useful only for very select situations in which that’s not possible. Is that worth $35 and carrying this thing around with you? I suppose that’s ultimately up to you to decide.