By: Johnny Marcondes
Pokemon fans worldwide are some of the most diverse and passionate fans in gaming, ranging for children to adults the series has done no wrong bridging quality content with ageless fun. Pokemon games to date have been a mix of engaging stories, complex core battle mechanics for those who play competitively while being easy enough for the youngest and most casual of trainers to enjoy on a more personal level. With that being said, Nintendo’s reveal of Pokemon: Lets Go! Pikachu and Eevee edition has left a lot of people on the fence about multiple things the game has to offer. Before diving in, let’s just get this out of the way: This is not a “core” Pokemon title.
That’s right, Pokemon: Let’s go! Pikachu and Eevee edition is not the first “core” Pokemon game for the Switch, that right is reserved for a soon to be released 2019 Pokemon title. While this isn’t exactly news, a lot of people have been confused about it especially since the Lets Go! game is essentially a remake of Pokemon Yellow. Honestly, for what it is this isn’t as bad as a lot of people have been raving about online, then again that seems to be the case about a lot of titles these days. Pokemon Let’s Go! is a pretty straight forward remake with some exciting and some less than exciting add on features that keep it fresh and kind of make you scratch your head. As far as first releases go this entry in the Pokemon series meets both core fans and casuals in the middle as it offers a lot to both respective fan bases, but is it too much?
Let’s Go! incorporates aspects from the core games, animated series and the popular phone app (Pokemon Go) all the while trying to keep everyone happy. If it sounds like a mess, hear me out. Pokemon Yellow which the game is a remake of is easily one of the best “core” Pokemon titles. It was the first Pokemon game that truly made you feel like Ash as a kid, you started off with Pikachu the lovable lead Pokemon in the series as your starter and got to talk to your Poke’friend. Not to mention a lot of the characters that appear in Pokemon Yellow were based off the animated series, Team Rocket’s Jesse and James with Meowth for example were a really nice touch. One of the best aspects of Yellow was the ability to capture other starters as you go through the story, it was honestly one of the best moments in my childhood at least as I felt that I were finally a true trainer just like in the show.
Seeing the reveal trailer of Let’s Go! made my inner child awaken and with glittery love struck eyes the love at first sight I felt disappeared the more I hit the reply button on that trailer. While the promise of reliving my childhood through updated graphics and features is one that excites me to no end, once the nostalgia wore off I got to break down features that were announced and shown during the E3 week that was the best it’s been in years. Pokemon: Let’s Go! is this interesting mix of nostalgic fanfare meets modern day appeal that for the most part works. Here’s a quick break down of some of the features that stood out the most to me and why they’re either good or bad:
– Pokemon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee editions both come out this November giving fans of the series a much needed solid story based Pokemon game on the Switch. Priced at $59.99 for a standard edition ,it’s a little on the pricey side but nothing really too surprising.
– Depending on the edition you buy your starter Pokemon will either be a Pikachu or an Eevee. Much like in Pokemon Yellow, your starter will follow you around and be able to communicate with you. What’s different this time around is that not only will your starter follow you around but you can even dress them up giving you an even more personal playthrough this time around. Here’s to Lucha Pikachu sitting on my shoulders waiting for the right moment to drop an elbow.
– A nice small touch to the game that separates itself from Yellow is that any Pokemon in your party can follow you, you won’t have to through your journey with just Pikachu or Eevee on your shoulders. This you can ride an in scale Onix into battle because who would mess with someone riding a giant rock snake?
– While essentially a remake of Yellow it does more than deliver on nostalgia, Pokemon Let’s Go isn’t a straight forward remake as there are plenty of new editions to keep fans happy. The Kanto region returns with the original 151 Pokemon however, Alolan forms of those Pokemon will also be present giving the Kanto region a more modern updated look and feel.
– Battling is unchanged from what it’s always been in the handheld series, still a turn based strategy of sorts which is fine considering it’s something fans both new and experienced can easily grip.
– For the first time in the series you can technically have multiple save files..sort of. Since the game will be on the Switch and the Switch allows for multiple accounts you could be use different accounts for different save files. It’s not exactly the system we’d like for saving but it’s a loophole of sorts.
– Gym battles make a return and you’re once again thrown to battling gym leaders for badges.
– There will be a new Pokemon in the game, however nothing is known as to which Pokemon it is. Will it be a Pokemon found in the series or will it be entirely new and debut in Let’s Go!? We won’t know until the release date comes closer.
– Battling trainers your encounter on your journey remains the same which is just a timeless aspect. This should go without saying but leveling up Pokemon is also done through battling and capturing new Pokemon.
– Sorry to break this to anyone who wasn’t aware or looking forward to having a Raichu or Vaporeon on your shoulders…but your Pikachu and Eevee starters won’t be able to evolve. Much like the Pikachu in the series they remain your faithful friend but refuses to evolve. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find and catch another Eevee or Pikachu in the wild to evolve them. It should also be noted that only the original three Eevee evolutions are available so choose wisely. (Vaporeon being the only logical/best option)
– Trading comes at a cost. For those who want trade or battle Pokemon with friends you can do so like you always have in the handheld series, except you’ll need to be part of Nintendo’s new Switch Online Service. The Switch online service will cost $4 for 1 month, $8 for 3 months and $20 for 12 months. A family plan is also going to be available allowing up to 8 Switch accounts to be under one plan for $35.
– Graphically Pokemon Let’s Go looks great but leaves a lot to be desired when you look at the battling system. Given the power of the Switch and the current waves of games the series could have really spiced up their battle system. Turn based is fine and appeals to fans of every range in the series, but there could have been more done to the animation aspects. Why does this still look like a slightly better Pokemon Stadium? We could at least show the Pokemon battling in a more cinematic way.
– Kanto looks amazing but it still looks rather flat or one dimensional. After Nintendo released games like LoZ Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odysessy you’d expect a cash cow like Pokemon to have a more livelier world. Maybe for that upcoming Pokemon core title fans will see a more vivid world to run through but for now it’s nothing special and nothing bad, it’s just rather flat or one note.
– Breeding and Eggs will not in the game. This is pretty big considering a lot of the core fans of the series really enjoy breeding Pokemon. Those who battle on a competitive level will be hit especially hard as they won’t be able to breed their optimal Pokemon for competitions/bouts with friends.
– Wild Pokemon battles have been completely eliminated. Let’s Go! focuses a lot of it’s attention capturing Pokemon as opposed to raising and training Pokemon. Taking away wild Pokemon encounters with battles makes it less of a Pokemon game and more of a glorified update to a phone app.
– Capturing Pokemon is more of the objective in the game as a lot of mechanics are focused around it. Flicking a Joy con or pressing a button at the right time to capture a Pokemon is the only way to go about getting members to your team. It’s a fine edition that will appeal to the casuals or new comers/youngsters but something that will leave a lot to be desired for seasoned players.
– Capturing Pokemon doesn’t feel as special as it used to. I’d rather battle a Pokemon down and earn my new companion than sooth it with berries as I flick a controller at my TV. The new mechanic is fine for younger players and casuals but getting rid of a major aspect of the series in favor for something this casual is a hard pill to swallow.
Let’s Go! is honestly a fun looking game that has some weird elements that doesn’t appeal to everyone. Core fans may not be as invested in the title as it does try to appeal more to the casual players with heavily influenced Pokemon GO mechanics in it. To be fair I could see how many might turned off by some of the new features but you should really try to go into this open minded. This isn’t the core title many are looking forward too but it’s also nothing to brush aside, Pokemon: Let’s Go is this unique take on a classic that’s trying to appeal to their entire fanbase in one game and truth be told there’s more hits than misses in it. While battling random Pokemon you’ll encounter will be greatly missed, the co op like experience of capturing Pokemon with their new mechanic is something I never knew I wanted. It’s those new mechanics that give this more than familiar title a breath of fresh air letting you play it like you never have before. Using the new catching mechanic may not be something I’m personally too fond of, but it will give me a chance to play a more light hearted version of something I grew up playing with my wife who’s more of a casual player or niece and nephew who are still young.
Pokemon Lets Go! has a lot of potential to create a new spin off series to the franchise that’s more geared towards the casuals and up and coming youngsters who aren’t too invested. Having elements of the animated series, a gorgeous rendition of one of their most famous regions and the chance to play both at home and on the go are too much to pass up. While this isn’t blowing anyones mind It’s not exactly dead in the water either, Pokemon Let’s Go is simply a fun looking game that’s giving every Pokemon fan a taste of what’s to come. The only thing I hope sees a true change is the battle animations, it’s about time to step away from that Pokemon Stadium like battling into something more animated and lively. Now that we’re moving away from the 3DS it’s about time Nintendo looks towards the future and that has to start with updating their battle animation which is what everyone looks forward too. The Switch is capable of some incredible things and Game Freak needs to come out of the gates swinging with their first official core title.