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Unofficial tools for 'Pokemon Go' lead to chaos as users seek rare characters

Players amass following the appearance of the Pokemon "Chansey" at a sidewalk in Odaiba, Tokyo, on Sept. 22, 2016. (Mainichi)

Unofficial apps and websites are partly behind a rash of incidents in which players of the popular smartphone game "Pokemon Go" have crowded areas and blocked traffic, it has been learned, as the game's management looks at ways to deal with the situation.

    The apps give users accurate locations on a map of the various Pokemon's appearances as well as information on how long the Pokemon will be available. Normally players would have to walk around and search out the Pokemon, but using these kinds of apps helps them skip that hassle and save time. Multiple apps and websites that provide this kind of help are known to exist.

    This screenshot shows some of the Pokemon characters gathered by a Mainichi Shimbun reporter. (Mainichi)

    Many Pokemon Go players who gathered at a park in the Tokyo suburban city of Machida where a rare Pokemon was expected to appear seemed to be using these kinds of tools. "The (Pokemon) character appeared on the map (in the app), so I came here," said a man in his 60s. Another player, a woman in her 40s, said, "We can now know accurately where the Pokemon will appear."

    Players wait by locations where rare Pokemon have been known to frequently appear. Some Pokemon are only available for around 10 minutes before disappearing, so once they have been sighted in a location, people will often flock there, running or using bicycles or cars to get there before the Pokemon disappears.

    In one such example on Sept. 22, people gathered in a crowd at Odaiba in Tokyo's Minato Ward, blocking the sidewalk as they sought the rare Pokemon "Chansey." This came just shortly after an incident on Sept. 18, when another rare Pokemon, "Lapras," showed up in the same area and created a commotion as hundreds of players gathered in search of the character.

    The game's managing company, Tokyo-based The Pokemon Co., and U.S. video game company Niantic Inc., told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We want to tell users to not use these improper tools."

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