Ever since the Nintendo Switch was revealed to the world, the demand for a Pokémon game to be able to play on your TV and on the go for the clever console was instantaneous. It didn’t take long until we finally got what we wished for. The result? Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu and Eevee giving a fun and nostalgic trip back to where the journey first began, although with some mild bumps on the road along the way.
Pokémon: Let’s Go is a very simplified version of the Pokémon games many have been accustomed to over the last several years. Gone are the specific and unique abilities that Pokémon have had in the past. Item-holding is absent in the game, making it feel extremely like the 1998 original that started it all. This was most likely done as this game is aimed towards a much younger audience compared to the usual veterans who have grown up with the series. Depending on how you enjoy your gaming experience, these changes may either come across as a breath of fresh air or a turn-off.
Pokémon: Let’s Go is an enhanced remake of Pokémon Yellow introducing big changes to the game series. The controls and its connectivity to the ever-popular Pokémon Go for mobile devices; a first in the franchise, Pokémon: Let’s Go can connect with the mobile game app and transfer Pokémon (Generation 1 Pokémon only) to your game. Once you have transferred from your phone into the game however, you cannot transfer from the Switch game back to your phone app. Despite this, it is a neat little feature for all those Pokémon Go lovers out there that want to get the most out of all their hard work by transferring all their catches into Pokémon: Let’s Go. For all those players that are keen to fill up their Pokédex as fast as possible, being able to transfer from Pokémon Go is a handy feature if you have collected plenty of the Kanto region’s original 151 Pokémon already.
Another noticeable change from the original 1998 game is that Pokémon: Let’s Go takes advantage of new technology to feature motion controls by using a joy-con controller on the Nintendo Switch to catch Pokémon. It surprisingly works decently and comfortably, using simply one joy con to move your character, catch wild Pokémon and battle trainers around Kanto. Based on mobile app, Pokémon Go’s catching system, players in Pokémon: Let’s Go are guided to use the motion controls of the joy-con to throw Pokéballs in order to catch the critters. While at times it can feel a little finicky and iffy, it takes some getting used to before it feels natural and decent. An alternative and easier way to throw Pokéballs is simply pressing the A button while the joy-cons are docked in hand-held mode if you don’t feel like standing and aiming at your TV. Although hand-held mode still uses motion controls, I found this method the easiest and quicker to do.
Just like in the mobile game, each Pokémon has a colour ring to throw a ball into it to indicate the difficulty in catching. Green for the easiest, yellow for average and red for hard. While this seems to work in the mobile app, it felt a little off in the switch game. Sometimes I was able to catch a high-level monster with a Pokéball in a red ring but using an Ultra Ball with a yellow ring or even green yielded no results and it ran away. Catching Pokémon doesn’t feel as smooth in Pokémon: Let’s Go in comparison to the mobile game, and for a game aimed towards children, this does seem a little odd. There is an option on purchasing the Pokéball controller for the Switch which not only helps players feel more authentic in catching Pokémon, but players also have the option of transferring a companion Pokémon to and from this innovative little gadget to help level them up and essentially take the Pokémon out with you.
Catching Pokémon constantly does seem a little repetitive and excessive, but it does offer rewards. How you catch the Pokémon; if the Pokémon is big, small, curve balls, perfect catches – this determines on how much experience you and your team receive. Catching the same creature over and over also causes a combo multiplier, dishing out more EXP and bettering chances of each creature having stronger and better stats. Candy, which is used to help grow stats for Pokémon such as attack, defense, etc, will also be easier to receive during combos. Not only is it fun and addicting, but after a while it also encourages players to get the most out of your catching. The harder you try, the more rewarding the experience will be and can pay off with candy to boost your Pokémon’s stats. If you have an excess amount of Pokémon you may want to get rid of in your storage system, you can exchange them with Professor Oak for candy. Similar to the Pokémon Sun and Moon games, TM’s can be used over and over on your Pokémon instead of the old one-time use only feature with HM’s like cut, surf that are also no longer required to teach in order to progress in the game. Please keep this feature, Game Freak!
Other features that are noticeably different (and for the best) in this new game is accessing the Storage System. This can now be accessed from the main menu at any time, instead of having to find a center in each town or route and use the storage system on a PC. These changes feels very evolved, is an improvement from previous games in the series, and I for one welcome this change. Changing and swapping your critters around has never felt faster and easier.
What hasn’t changed since the original? Pokémon: Let’s Go, despite all the modern and fancy changes contains the same old story we’ve all grown to know and love. You still get the chance to have your own Pokémon to begin your journey (Pikachu or Eevee depending on your game version) battle the eight gym leaders in the Kanto region and eventually make your way to defeat the Elite Four. Team Rocket are also back and better than ever in glorious HD. My favourite part with Team Rocket was battling against Jessie, James and Meowth who provide some decent challenges when you encounter the villainous group on your journey. Giovanni is still as deadly and tough as ever and I found him battling him to be the most fun in the entire game.
Post-game content for Pokémon: Let’s Go is lacking as is it has been in the past with the franchise. Once your journey of battling the Elite Four is done, there’s not much to be do afterwards. There is of course catching the legendary Mewtwo (which is extremely nostalgic) and the three legendary birds, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, this is if you didn’t collect them on your way to the Elite Four. Aside from some high-level trainers; the Master Trainers and the famous Pokémon trainer, Red and Mega Stones also making a return to the game which you can find, I still didn’t find the post-game content very satisfying, but perhaps that’s just me.
In the end, Pokémon: Let’s Go feels like a faithful retreading of the original Yellow version, with some slight bumps and a minimal post-game content, it is still fun. If you’ve played the original Yellow game before, you will find yourself reminiscing over the old days when journeying Kanto again, and if this is your first time experiencing the region where it all started, you’ll find yourself very much at home. With some changes made to the core battle and catching system (such as item-removal) it may turn off competitive players. This is not its purpose however as Pokémon: Let’s Go is still a feel-good game for all ages that should overall satisfy players until the next big Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch is announced.