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‘Pokémon: Let’s Go!’ Captures the Spirit of Pokemon

Pokémon: Let’s Go came out this weekend. Both Graev and I picked up the Let’s Go Pikachu edition because… Pikachu, duh! (We will still like you if you picked Eevee.)

As Pokémon fanatics, and Nintendo Switch aficionados, we couldn’t have been more excited for the two to finally come together. Does it live up to the hype and excitement for us?

First, let’s talk about some of the big questions we’ve seen out there. I had a lot of questions going in that I really couldn’t find the answers to in reviews from people who got advanced copies, so I had to wait and experience the game myself. Hopefully these help anyone out there curious about whether or not the game is fun or right for them.

If I didn’t like Pokemon Go, will I like Pokemon: Let’s Go? How similar are they?

As already stated, we love Pokemon, but we’re not fans of the recent Pokemon Go craze. Graev is 100% “if I have to leave my house, no thanks,” and I’m right there with him. What gets me the most is that I couldn’t even use the world “play” in that last sentence. “If I have to leave my house to play,” isn’t applicable because there’s no “playing” in Pokemon Go. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t like Pokemon Go, I can happily say that Pokemon: Let’s Go is actually a game like a traditional Pokemon RPG you can play.

Only the catching mechanic is very similar — almost identical, but not — in that you throw a pokeball (by tapping or motion) when the little circle is smaller inside the big circle. Other than that, these are two very different games.

The question you should ask yourself is whether or not you like the more Pokemon games in general, and if you do then I think you’ll like Pokemon: Let’s Go.

Is Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu just like Pokémon Yellow?

In many ways, yes. Let’s Go is a remake of Yellow, which was a remake of Red/Blue. As a remake, Let’s Go has introduced MANY new features, including some brought over from more contemporary Pokemon games as well as the Pokemon Sun and Moon Ultimate cartoon currently airing on Disney XD.

Some of the newer features/changes include the ability to ride Pokemon (in various fun ways such as grabbing onto Snorlax’s tummy or riding atop an Onyx), mega evolutions, no breeding, and the ability to interact with your companion Pokemon.

Despite so much being new, including the world being transformed into a pseudo 3D experience, you’ll still 100% recognize every path and way to go in the world. The additional new features, subtractors, and little surprises sprinkled in (like Alola Pokemon) all feel like cherries on top of a familiar yet delicious sundae.

Is Pokémon: Let’s Go too easy?

Let’s Go is definitely easy. From the beginning, the Pokemon people have been very clear in their marketing efforts that this is game for everyone, including those who aren’t gamers or Pokemon fanatics. While those of us who started playing when we were wee lads and lasses could argue that we managed to start from the beginning in a much less forgiving world, times have changed. We’re in the golden age of accessibility for gaming.

There will be only moderate ‘challenges’, but nothing in the game will ever stop you from progressing if you give it even a semblance of a try. This is the biggest departure from the ‘core game’ experience that I can think of — even more of a departure than radical new features.

How do Pokemon level up? Is the core gameplay still the same? What’s different, if anything?

Pokemon do level up, and they do gain abilities. The experience of raising a team and having 6 Pokemon in your party is all the same. This feels very much like a core game because it’s structured that way. What’s a little different is that there’s a permanent exp share active on your team that you can’t turn off. Your Pokemon team will level very fast, and very easily. Too easy? Yeah, probably.

Instead of fighting wild Pokémon and do the grind to level up, you’ll earn plenty of exp from simply throwing pokeballs at wild Pokemon. You’ll also never be jumped by a random Pokemon because you’ll see them coming as they wander the open world on their own — a change I actually like a whole lot.

Do I have to worry about Pokémon nature, IVs, or any of the hardcore meta gaming stuff in Pokemon Let’s Go?

Nature and IVs (individual values) are both in the game. However, to view the IVs you’ll need to unlock the IV judge function of your Pokédex on route 11 near Vermilon city. If min-maxing your Pokemon and getting the absolute best version you can is your thing, then fear not because you’ll have plenty of opportunities in Let’s Go.

How does co-op work in Pokemon: Let’s Go?

This is one of my favorite features. My wife can simply grab a joycon and shake it and she drops right into the game. The animation looks like she’s Thor warming in from Asgard! When she wants to stop playing, she just drops out the same way.

The second player has free control of their character and can follow you around and participate in the battles — and yes, that means you do 2v1 everything; I said it was too easy. Thankfully the second player can’t aggro any Pokemon in the wild or do much interacting, so this would be a fantastic way to play with really young kids to introduce them, or play to help a youngster as a parent without taking over their game.

Catching Pokemon co-op allows you both to time your throws together. Synchronizing throws gives a significant bonus to catching, but will use two Pokeballs in the attempt.

In co-op, the second player uses the Pokemon in the second slot.

Is Pokemon Let’s Go worth getting or should I wait for the next ‘core’ game to come out?

Totally worth it. I hadn’t played Yellow in decades, so this has been an awesome adventure back into that region. This is also much, much closer to a ‘core’ Pokemon game experience than people were thinking. I went into this all worried it would be a Pokeball flicking experience like Pokemon Go, and it’s totally not. This is a core Pokemon game remake with accessibility and features added in, and it captures the spirit of Pokémon games perfectly.

I hope A LOT of what we see in Let’s Go makes its way to the next new Pokemon RPG to release on the Nintendo Switch. I’m very, very happy with my purchase.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta catch’em all!

  • bartillo says:

    All the reviews and reddit posts ive read has said these games are terrible, kid friendly, carebear games. Wheres the hardcore pokemon rpg we want for the switch?

    Guess ill stick to moon on 3ds.

    • Keen says:

      You must have missed most of the reviews then. The general consensus has been that this wasn’t supposed to be as good as it was, but it’s blowing away expectations.

      The best statement I read and agree with has been, “this wasn’t supposed to be this fun!”

      The “hardcore pokemon rpg” (if one ever did exist) is better known as the “core RPG” and that has ALREADY been stated to be on its way. It was in the same announcement as Pokemon Let’s Go.

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