NYC Pokémon Go master Nick Johnson shares his tips

Nick Johnson, 28, plays
Nick Johnson, 28, plays “Pokémon Go,” after work. Johnson is a Brooklyn Heights resident and the first to report catching all 145 Pokémon in the gaming sensation. Photo Credit: Sardi’s

As the Pokémon theme song goes, “I will travel across the land, searching far and wide.”

For several days, that’s exactly what Brooklyn Heights resident Nick Johnson did, and now it’s paid off: He is the world’s first person to report finding all 145 Pokémon in Pokémon Go, the megapopular mobile game that has been the sensation of the summer and downloaded more than 100 million times since early July.

Johnson, 28, said New Yorkers who are trying to catch Pokémon in the city should explore the following hot spots: Madison Square, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Brooklyn Borough Hall, where there are an abundance of Charmanders.

Another big one is Grand Army Plaza at Central Park South and Fifth Avenue.

“On any given day, there are hundreds of people there,” Johnson said.

Once, near the Newark PATH Station, he spotted the rare Dratini pop up on the game’s tracker that informs players of wild Pokémon lurking nearby. Dratini was one of the last few Pokémon that he needed.

“I ordered an Uber and had him drive me around to find this one,” said Johnson last week, while wearing a red-and-white cap often worn by the character Ash Ketchum from the Pokémon television series. “That ended up being worth it.”

So far, there are 145 Pokémon species available to catch and four of those are exclusive to certain continents, including Tauros in North America, Farfetch’d in Asia, Kangaskhan in Australia and Mr. Mime in Europe.

Johnson has already mastered the primary goal, which is to “catch ‘em all.” Earlier in August, Johnson took a 10-day trip around the world to catch the remaining three Pokémon with his girlfriend, also an avid player.

Even though he’s back in New York with all 145 Pokémon under his belt, Johnson said he’s still going continue playing the game.

“We did a company outing to Citi Field last night to watch the Mets, and I was catching Pokémon with my co-workers,” he said. “It’s a fun way to go out with some friends and an excuse to get some exercise.”

One of the most fun perks of Pokémon Go, he added, is that the game allows you to discover hidden gems in the neighborhood.

“I’ve visited lots of places in Brooklyn and Manhattan that I hadn’t been to before and probably wouldn’t have otherwise (since playing the game),” said Johnson, who has lived in New York City for six years. “It got me out to explore.”

While he may be the world’s first Pokémon master, Johnson said he learned much of his knowledge and gaming skills from other Pokémon Go enthusiasts.

“A lot of it was talking to other players – they’re the best source for information and a good way to meet some new people,” Johnson said. “There’s this line in the theme song: ‘You teach me, and I’ll teach you.’ That certainly applies to this game pretty well.”

When he’s not tossing Poké Balls around, Johnson works as the head of platform at Applico, a mobile strategy company. In fact, his work at Applico spurred him to play the game even more.

“Pokémon Go is a social gaming platform, and understanding the mechanics of the game, seeing how it brings people together in the real world, was also part of my interest,” Johnson said.

Having grown up watching the television show, Johnson has a lot of fondness for the Pokémon franchise. As an eight-year-old, he caught all the Pokémon on the original Game Boy games.

Johnson said he hopes that Niantic, makers of the game, will update it with new features soon, such as player-versus-player battling, Pokémon trading and team-based events.

“I’m looking forward to (gaming features) that really add to the social aspect and build on the community that’s already pretty incredible,” Johnson said.