Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s go Eevee! have dropped on the Nintendo Switch and it is a noticeably different experience from other releases on different platforms. This game would make a worthy entry-level game for younger siblings or cousins who have never played a main series game before. Not to say these games do not have their own merits for the hardcore fans and trainers, as the formula has been tweaked. For some, the refreshing of the series is long overdue while others may be repulsed by the magnitude of changes. There is a lot to unpack with the recent releases starting with the graphic fortitude.
The Kanto region is back and looks better than ever. There was a tremendous amount of care and detail that went into updating the region and making the world feel lived in. A bright and colorful art style are indicative of awe and wonder when looking back with our rose-tinted glasses. In game models and sprites are fluid and come across believably in this world creating a seamless transfer from game to battle. The little details in this world create an environment that feels lived in and changing. You can walk into certain buildings and see posters of the town’s gym leader giving off the sense people in the game world have pride in their hometown. There are a few cutscenes throughout the game that are beautifully rendered and add a sense of grandeur and scale. Framerates can be all over the place, but only when there are a large number of Pokémon on the screen at the same time. Overall, whilst many may have complaints about other aspects of the game, the graphical fidelity should be a positive to almost all.
This is probably were the biggest changes were made when looking at Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! The biggest difference comes in the way of no longer battling wild Pokémon and instead throwing Pokéballs. This is a direct carry over from Pokémon Go as a way to bring over and accommodate that audience. There are certain Pokémon that you have to battle before catching them which could be the making of a good compromise of new and old variations of gameplay. Controlling the game itself has also been simplified to the point where you can control the entire game with one hand. For the first time in the series you can also call on a friend to follow you through the overworld helping you battle and catch Pokémon.
With Pokémon Go integration and transfer, catching the first 150 has never been easier. When catching Pokémon in handheld mode the gyroscopic controls take some getting used to, when compared to Joy-con use. Granted getting to Pokémon #152; Meltan is easier, be prepared to shell out $50 and 2 months of time for all 153. Mew is currently only available through the Pokéball Plus while Meltan cannot evolve in game but in Pokémon Go. Not only is Meltan not able to evolve into Melmetal unless in Pokémon Go it costs 400 candies. It will likely take some time to catch enough Meltan to evolve due to them only being available once a week for 30-minutes at a time. Concerned players call it a “paywall” in order to complete the Pokédex however, you do not need it to get the shiny charm for a “complete Pokédex.”
Another big change made to this game is the fact that Pokémon now wander the overworld. A first for the series, it allows players to seek out and target specific Pokémon and avoid others. This also makes areas like Rock Tunnel and the “surfing” routes more enjoyable to navigate. Random encounters are not completely gone from the game due to the fact there is no telling where one may spawn – including in front of your path. Pokémon also don’t have abilities in this game making some Pokémon, that were stronger in previous generations, a lot less useful. They have also removed and modified certain moves giving select Pokémon a more limited move pool. Making its return, last seen in Pokémon Soul Silver and Pokémon Heart Gold, Pokémon can now follow you in the overworld. That’s not all they can do, some are also able to be ridden in most areas of the map, and some can even fly. This does introduce an issue where if a Pokémon is in front of you, you may end up speaking to it instead of grabbing the item you wanted.
The partner Pokémon, Eevee and Pikachu are an integral part of your journey. One of the most important things they do is replace HM’s in the game allowing you to have complete freedom over your move sets. Being able to care for and interact with your partner is a very enriching experience with real value in battle. A lot of time must have been spent in order to give players a feeling they are actually creating a bond with this Pokémon. They are also customisable allowing you to have your own flair to each individual Pokémon making it truly special seeing them in battle. Eevee is definitely the stronger of the two options when picking the game considering it gets three 90 base power coverage moves before the second gym. There are also a far more outfits for Eevee if customization is important to the decision process. Both Pikachu and Eevee are the only ones to get voice acting inside the Pokéball Plus.
The Pokéball Plus
A Pokéball shaped controller that you can play the entire game with is a unique experience to use. With a portion of the player base being upset that this is the only way to get mew it takes attention away from the other uses that it has. The controller is on the small side but is still comfortable for longer play sessions once you get used to the layout. Having haptic feedback is something that is surprisingly enjoyable and is missed when playing with a Joy-Con or in handheld mode. It is also able to take you Pokémon out and go for a walk. Early in the game this is an incredibly effective and game breaking because when you come back the Pokémon earn experience. For those playing Pokémon Go you can also use it to spin stops and catch Pokémon. It is a great tool to live out your childhood fantasy bringing you one step closer to actual catching Pokémon .
The story in both games is a different take on the classic Pokémon Yellow story, with a modern twist. Certain story critical items are moved and given to the player in different spots than in Pokémon Yellow. This makes the game a lot easier for younger players and a more streamlined experience for all. Each game has a rival and with recent trends they have been a lot friendlier in recent iterations and this is no exception. Instead of being your rival Blue takes on more of a mentor role for the player guiding you through certain parts of the game. If you remember Hau from Pokémon Sun/Ultra Sun and Pokémon Moon/Ultra Moon, imagine this rival as Kantonian Hau. Overall the story adapts one of the more minimal yet well-known stories from the series in a modern way.
The game has a glaring issue that will hopefully be patched out in the coming weeks such as an issue with docked mode cutting off text. For those players wanting a challenge, game introduces 2 new kinds of trainer; Coach and Master Trainers. Coach Trainers act as personal check points to challenge the player at different stages of their journey. Master Trainers add a new spin on battles by thrusting you into a one on one battle with a Pokémon of their choice, and it is difficult. You also get to battle a few famous trainers from previous games after you beat the Elite 4. Shiny hunting makes a return in a big and accessible way with a very forgiving chain method. This allows you to target a Pokémon and see if it is shiny in the overworld before attempting to catch it. There are fun secrets to the world that encourages you to explore, especially in the post-game.
Overall, these newest entries to the franchise are definitely the most accessible of the franchise and will hopefully breathe new life into the player-base. Some of the changes may turn away long-term fans of the core game-play of the previous games but will hopefully inspire interest going forward. If you are look for a new relaxing and refreshing Pokémon experience, that can be played on your TV, the the Let’s Go games are a great new experience for those looking for an adventure.
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