Pokemon has been around for over twenty years now and has followed me throughout life. Starting my adventure with Pokemon Yellow, I became encapsulated with the universe. Since then, I’ve been searching for an excuse to revisit the old games, and after hearing that the games were going back to its entry-level roots, I was intrigued. Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! streamline a familiar formula for a younger generation. The series has never been this accessible, making it easier to catch & collect Pokemon, as well as slowly introducing new players to the world of Pokemon.
Veterans of the game may feel a bit left behind, but are caught up with the several throwbacks to the original Pokemon titles. The locations are similar in appearance, with streamlined cuts made to improve the game’s flow. There is some content cut from the original games, but done so in a way that doesn’t take much away from the core Pokemon experience. I really don’t have a problem with the Pokemon battles being cut from the wild encounters — instead, the battles take place exclusively with trainers. The exception is some of the more significant Pokemon such as the three legendary birds. I’d like to say this takes out the arduous grind to leveling your Pokemon before a gym battle, but it makes it even more tedious.
Instead of battling, you have to spend hundreds of Pokeballs catching duplicate Pokemon to earn exp, making the grind feel more pointless. Catch Pokemon, send them away, earn experience, and repeat. While it is easier for newcomers to break into the Pokemon universe, it lacks fulfillment in completing your Pokemon quest. Half the time spent capturing Pokemon is pelting out Pokeballs like they’ve gone out of style. In past Pokemon titles, I’m usually conservative with my in-game cash, and these titles are no exception. Without purchasing one Pokeball, I find myself ending the game with several hundred Pokeballs and a gratuitous amount of coins, and that is after collecting the majority of the Pokedex and beating the end game content.
I want to encourage a change to the original Pokemon formula, but this capturing style replaces a great battling system that worked for years since Pokemon’s original release. It’s refreshing to see a change, but I don’t think the current system for the Pokemon: Let’s Go series has found its mark.
With all of my constructive criticism mentioned, I can finally move on to what I really like about Pokemon: Let’s Go. First, Pokemon no longer randomly appear as you walk through long grass; instead, they appear in plain sight, meaning you are no longer forced to endure battle over battle when working through grassy fields. Should the trainer choose, you can maneuver your way around wild Pokemon and capture only the wants you want to enter a “Battle” with, improving the game’s flow tremendously. No longer is the trek through Mt. Moon filled with encounter after encounter of Zubat’s, you can simply walk past them. It makes dense random encounter areas from past Pokemon games less tedious, and is something I hope the Pokemon series continues to adapt in games to come.
It does feel more like a free-roam tour then an entirely new Pokemon adventure, almost as an exhibit to show off what a new Pokemon game could do. There weren’t any battles that were overly difficult, at least up until you meet the game’s fierce master trainers. That might appear to the “newer” audience, but for a veteran myself, it left me wanting more.
Dependent on the version you chose, you are given a Pokemon that hangs out at your side at all times. Pikachu, or Eevee. This is your Pokemon. Game Freak did an impressive job at making it feel like a real-life pet. Interacting with it improves its mood, and it will warm up to you during idle animations. Your Pokemon is with you the entire ride and by the end of it, you feel like you have both grown. Along the journey, you bond with your Pokemon by dressing it up, teaching it powerful moves, and running amuck in your Pokemon adventure. One thing that is certain is that your Pikachu or Eevee are tremendously overpowered. In battles, your cute companion turns into an overwhelming death machine. Throughout your journey, your death machine will collect powerful moves of various types that guarantee battle conditions for your opponent. It makes it very hard to not use your Pikachu or Eevee in every scenario, because they are adaptable to almost every situation. They are unfairly overpowered, and because of that, it makes the game slightly easier to overcome. Near the end of the story, your companion fights like Mike Tyson in his prime. Scarily impregnable, even against type mismatches.
“If I had to pick a game that compliments the Nintendo Switch hardware the best, it would be Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! or Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!.”
In the past games, you have that sense of Schadenfreude when you pummel your rival and see him eat dirt as you claim the Pokemon League Champion. In Let’s Go, your relationship with your rival is friendly, right from when you meet him in Professor Oak’s building. No longer will he “Smell ya later”, instead, he works to improve himself alongside you in your adventure. There are several moments where you will team up with them to defeat foes such as Team Rocket.
All of this boils down to the overall tone for the game: Happiness. There aren’t any intense moments where you feel attacked by another NPC, and people have a general manner to them this time around. Perhaps it is a reflection of the world’s tolerance for foul atrocities, but it does make for an uplifting experience, even when times are glum. Competition is something that runs in my blood, and I do miss that cheeky attitude of trainers before the battle, something I hope returns in the next core Pokemon game next year. With that said, this game relates to a child more than an adult, and I think that is important for a game like this.
The Nintendo Switch’s hardware is a perfect companion for Pokemon: Let’s Go. Pokemon has always been a portable game, but the power of the technology in 2018 brings the game to new heights. Participating in local wireless battles is a blast as with other titles, and the connectivity with Pokemon GO fulfills the Pokemon collecting experiences. All of this is extremely easy to utilize, and there are nonstop opportunities to create the perfect Pokemon team. The way the developers have implemented this is nothing short of amazing, and I give them kudos for that. If I had to pick a game that compliments the Nintendo Switch hardware the best, it would be Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! or Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!.
My Pokemon experience started in 1998, with no guides, help, or walkthroughs along my way. Pokemon: Let’s Go manages to encapsulate that same feeling in the modern age, giving a new sense of wonder and cheer that the previous titles didn’t have. It changes the formula drastically, and relates to the nostalgic tones I had when I was a child — and that is magical. Yes, there are things I would like to improve in Pokemon: Let’s Go, but I won’t argue with the fact that it was a fun, nostalgic experience.
This review was completed using a personal copy of Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! & Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!