Surprising! If there is one word that best describes my experience with Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go. From it’s initial unveil leading up to its release, I have been cautiously apprehensive about Pokemon Let’s Go. From my first impression, Let’s Go had all the hallmarks of a quick cash grab. It appeared to be a remake of a decades old title, thrown together quickly with a few new ideas and a shiny new paint of coat. Oh boy was I wrong and I guess the old adage remains true, never judge a book by its cover. Pokemon Let’s Go, Eevee and Pikachu is a surprisingly refreshing take on the tried and true formula pushing the series into exciting territory.
I suspect for many long time Pokemon fans, Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee would be a familiar adventure. It is essentially a modern revision of Pokemon Yellow enhanced with a number of improvements and new ideas. Revisiting Kanto and conquering the Indigo Plateau is a lovely throwback to childhood memories and hits all the right nostalgia notes. I found great pleasure in beating all original 8 gyms and beating the Elite 4 again bringing back all those fond memories when I was a little kiddie. It may be a little disappointing that we are getting a retread of Generation 1 again, but there is enough new here to make revisiting Kanto all the worthwhile and I do believe Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee is the perfect entry point to convert a new generation of gamer’s to fans. If you have kids or baby siblings, give them a copy of Let’s Go and watch them eventually be enchanted with the world of Pokemon.
Arguable the most noticeable improvement over previous its predecessor is the upgrade in the visual department. Pokemon has never looked so good and the added power in the Switches hardware greatly benefits the world of Pokemon. Kanto is lush with greenery and vibrant with color with some very nice lighting effects which brings the world to life. I like the choice of art-style, color pallet and visual design selected for Pokemon Let’s Go. It retains the cartoony style and charm that the series is renowned for. Had they gone for the glossy and more realistic approach of Pokken Tournament or previous console Pokemon spin-offs (like Battle Revolution) it would have resulted in a bland world.
One of the bigger shakeups to the Pokemon formula in Let’s Go is the changes to how wild encounters work. No longer are wild pokemon found by random encounters in grass,water or caves. Instead you will see them wondering around – like they should – in their natural habitat. There are many benefits for this change up. For starters, it elevates the immersion to another level. Habitats that was once previously empty on screen is now teeming with wildlife. There’s a greater excitement when you come across an extremely rare Pokemon, it is incredible exhilarating and the excitement is almost tangible when you finally find that elusive monster. This idea is one that I have visioned for Pokemon from the very first Pokemon and I can’t believe it has taken over 20 years to finally be implemented into a title.
The new encounters add a new dimension to the hunt for Pokemon incentivising the idea of “Gotta catch them all.” The hunt for perfect IV Pokemon and the elusive shiny Pokemon are made easy with “chain combo’s” which is essentially catching the same Pokemon consecutively and you will be rewarded with some nice rare and high pedigree Pokemon. Admittedly it is a little grindy, but this mechanics eases the superfluous grind of shiny hunting and getting good IV Pokemon making entering the competitive scene a lot easier for newcomers. Moreover, I believe the mechanic will make the journey to complete the Pokedex more enjoyable for completionist.
Perhaps a trade-off for the new mechanics of encounters is that you cannot battle wild Pokemon. Instead you will enter a mini-game akin to the core element of the mobile app, Pokemon Go. As you enter a wild encounter, you will be taken straight to the capture screen where you will need to aim and throw Pokeballs (with motion controls) to capture it very much like Pokemon Go, there’s no battle screen or anything you would typically expect from wild encounters. Some may be disappointed that there is no battling wild Pokemon or may get the impression that it is a casualification of the Pokemon, but from personal speaking I did not miss battling wild Pokemon, in fact I like the straightforwardness and streamline approach. It is a recurring theme, but these ideas are meant to remove the grinding nature that the series has built a reputation on and I do believe that they have succeeded. And besides, traditional battles that we all love are still here, but just strictly relegated to trainers, gym leaders, legendary’s and the Elite four.
Speaking of Pokemon Go, there are interactivity between Let’s Go and Go. Connecting your Switch and your mobile device, you can transfer Pokemon from Go into Let’s Go. Unfortunately, it is only a one way trip and only Kanto Pokemon can be transferred. As an incentive, you can get the mythical Pokemon Meltan and Melmetal which is exclusively obtained through this method. It is a nice bridge for Go players to get into the mainline titles, but the usefulness of the interactivity is limited.
From my impressions, Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikcahu/Eevee is a litmus to test and experiment new ideas for future titles. Additions like having hidden abilities to replace HM’s so that move slots are not wasted, exp share integrated from the start, riding Pokemon, having the PC in your bag to swap out Pokemon on the fly and the ability to check Pokemon “Individual Values” all make for a streamlined experience that reduces frustration, annoyances and tedium. Though small changes, it puts the players convenience first and ultimately results into a more enjoyable experience, and again I ponder why has it taken so long for this ideas to be implemented into Pokemon.
Aside from the changes aforementioned, “Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee” it is still the Pokemon game that you loved all the years and remains true to the series roots and traditions. Setting off with nothing but a cute starter embarking in an adventure to meet new friends, battling powerful trainers, conquering the Pokemon league and ultimately become the champion. It is a familiar experience with a few new twist and turns that deliver a refreshing adventure. At the end of my play-through, I was honestly pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee and it certain exceeded my expectations. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee is a step in the right direction and it bodes well for the future for the series, and I can’t wait to see where GameFreaks takes us next year.