Aras Scimemi has caught all 145 Pokémon currently available in Pokémon Go. He’s not the first to do so, but the story of how he got them is a little more harrowing than others.

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A 20 year-old computer science student at the University of Virginia, Scimemi started playing Pokémon Go as soon as it was released. After catching a few types and making it to level 4, though, he “kind of lost interest” and let the game slide.

His family soon went on a vacation to Turkey, and with time to kill he revisited the game and got hooked. The apartment his family were staying in, on the Asian side of the Bosporus in Istanbul, was not just right by the water but always had a cluster of three lures around, so simply by walking around the local neighbourhood (and grinding a lot of Magicarps) he soon managed to get every water Pokémon.

The view from the Scimemi’s Istanbul apartment | Image: Imgur

Everything was going just fine. Scimemi says he “walked around, hatched eggs, swiped at Pokéstops, caught more and more [Pokémon]”. The nearby lures even “brought a bunch of great Pokémon, including a surprising appearance by Mr. Mime”.

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Then July 15 happened.

A reported coup by military officers rocked the city, and brought chaos to the streets.

“The night of the coup was pretty regular at first”, Scimemi recalls in a post on Imgur. “I caught a movie, walked around the neighborhood looking for a Aerodactyl that was three paces away. That’s when I heard the gunshots.”

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“Going to Turkey, I was well aware of the possibility of an attack by ISIS”, he says. “So, my first thought when I heard the gunshots was an attack. I had my 10 year-old sister with me at the time, and we ran back to our apartment, closed the blinds, and I put her to bed. Fortunately, she goes to sleep easily and deeply so that was the last I heard from her for the rest of the night.”

“Unfortunately, my parents had gone to see a concert on the opposite side of the city and I couldn’t reach them at all.” He spent a frantic six hours waiting for them before they finally made it back, at 4am the next morning.

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“They had been detained by the military and held at gunpoint until they finally convinced them to let them go since they were American citizens.”

“My mother is Turkish and just about every year we go to visit family”, Scimemi tells Kotaku. “We were a little wary of going because it coincided shortly after the ISIS attack at the airport, but Turkey is our home and if we start letting fear dictate our lives, that’s when they start to win. Funny enough, ISIS had nothing to do with it.”

Scimemi shared the above image, showing a book store down the street from their apartment.

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“Most of the shops had not escaped getting shot, and there was a fair amount of blood on the streets. One neighbor of ours lost a leg and another died. The building shook several times over the night from bombs and at one point I even saw the flash of a jet-fired missile.”

“However, that’s not the point of the story. Back to Pokémon.”

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Oh yeah. Right.

While in Istanbul, Scimemi managed to get hold of every water Pokémon, along with “several flying types, the Abra, Poliwag, Abra, Machop, Geodude, Ponyta evolutions, any ghost types, Mr. Mime, all the Eevee’s (using the Eevee evolution naming trick), Porygon, Lickitung, Onix, Aerodactyl, and I got Kangaskhan from an egg.”

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In all, he estimates he caught around around 900 pocket monsters in total (counting duplicates for transfers, etc) while in Turkey. Once he flew back to Washington DC, he only needed another 400 before he’d managed to collect ‘em all.

“Those included the Bulbasaur and Charmander evolutions, the Hitmons, Snorlax, Diglett evolutions, Bellsprout and Oddish evolutions, other rare Pokémon like Jynx, Electabuss, Magmar, Pinsir, also Tauros, and the Dratini evolution. Not to mention Farfetch’d from an egg. I actually couldn’t find most of the higher evolved Pokémon like Kabutops, Weezing, Venusaur, Charizard. I just caught enough of the base Pokémon so that I could evolve them.”

While he admits he got lucky with a few of his egg hatches, in general he says he was able to get most Pokémon just by finding and staying around lures, which seemed to attract many of the rarer ones he couldn’t find otherwise.

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Here’s a look at Scimemi’s Pokédex:

So what next? What happens when, for now at least (six of the original 151 Pokémon are being held back for later release), you have literally caught them all?

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“Now that I’ve...become the very best?”, he jokes. “Well, I haven’t been fighting in gyms now, so while I wait for the last six to come out I expect to be fighting those. There’s a gym right next to my dorm at school and I hope to dominate that for as long as I can.”