SINGAPORE, Aug 7 — Try to not drop your phone in excitement — Pokemon Go is finally available here. Already, we’ve spotted Pokemon Master wannabes lurking around the carpark at Bedok Corner Food Centre this morning who tell us excitedly there are Pokemons here.The free-to-play augmented reality mobile game has become a global phenomenon since it was released in Australia, New Zealand and the United States on July 5. For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go is a mobile game jointly created in collaboration by The Pokemon Company, developer Niantic Labs and Japanese gaming company Nintendo.

Phenomenal global successSince its release, people around the world — including Singapore — have been waiting with bated breath for the game to be released globally. Some Singaporeans have gone as far as to bypass geo-locks to download it. Multiple Facebook groups for Singaporean Pokemon Go fans have also been created prior to the launch.“I managed to download the game before it was officially released here,” said Syukri Anwar, 22, a civil servant, “I didn’t play it for long because there were just too many limitations to really experience the Pokemon Go world in full. Now that it’s here, I’m taking a week’s leave to play it,” he added.“I watched the cartoon when I was younger and played all the different versions of Pokemon on the various consoles. It’s exciting to be able to now try this new, modern way of experiencing the Pokemon universe,” said freelance videographer Corina Oh, 24.

Security bugsAs much as Pokemon Go has been a success so far, there have been many concerns on safety and security. The mobile game was used by four youths from Missouri, USA, to lure almost a dozen players into a secluded spot, where they were then robbed. There have also been a rash of car accidents caused by either a driver or pedestrian playing Pokemon Go.Personal data security also came into question when iOS users, along with a handful of Android users, discovered that downloading and playing the game meant giving it full access to the player’s Google account, including emails and private documents.Niantic has since issued a statement that was published on technology website Engadget, stating, “Pokemon Go only accesses basic Google profile information (specifically, your User ID and email address) and no other Google account information is or has been accessed or collected. Once we became aware of this error, we began working on a client-side fix to request permission for only basic Google profile information, in line with the data that we actually access.”

How to playPokemon Go has a fairly simple interface. Once you’ve chosen and customised your avatar, you’ll be directed by Professor Willow, a Pokemon researcher to catch your first Pokemon. After you’re done with the tutorial, the Pokemon Go landscape transforms into a 360° map of the area, showing you the various Pokestops — spots where you can get supplies like Pokeballs — and Pokemon Gyms in the area.A small tab on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen will also show you what Pokemon are nearby, though those aren’t shown on the map. As many users in countries the game first have pointed out, the proximity of available Pokemon were previously indicated with stars in the tab, but that feature has since been removed.The game is also easy-to-navigate — familiarising with the gameplay will take little to no time. The hardest part? All the walking that you’d have to do to get to Pokemon, Pokestops and Pokemon Gyms.With the game finally in Singapore, don’t be surprised to see strangers with phones poking around your neighbourhood this weekend in search of, what else?Pokemon Go is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. — TODAY