Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Pikachu! attempt to capture both new and returning players to the franchise and doesn’t fall flat with either in the process. With many of the classic inspirations coming to the modern console and new or updated features being implemented in a fresh way, both returning fans and new players should find something they are looking for in a Pokémon game, but maybe not everything. There should be enough here to hold you over until the next true core Pokémon game arrives, which is currently slated for next holiday.
Anyone who has spent as much time as I have with the Pokémon series more than likely wrote this set of games off as placeholders to keep us placated until the more standard core titles. As such, no doubt some have decided to skip these games, but there’s a lot like here and I had a lot of fun wandering through the Kanto region once again. Some of the more hardcore in-depth features are missing, but overall the experience is still what many would want from a Pokémon game. However, it should be noted that PvP players will not likely find much to enjoy with this iteration.
The most notable new feature is how the player catches and “battles” wild Pokémon. Gone is the classic turn-based combat so many of us have come to love, and in its place is a similar capturing process found in Pokémon Go. To do this you actually use the Joy-Con controllers or the optional PokéBall Plus accessory to gesture like you’re throwing a PokéBall at the TV screen to capture the monster. You have to time it just right and hope that the Pokémon decides to stay in your Ball. This can lead to some major frustrations because the luck of catching each creature varies and sometimes I had to try over and over again to capture one. Using an item to increase your odds of capture is helpful, but unfortunately you need to use these items every single time before throwing the ball and that becomes tiresome as well. I know some gamers hated the motion controls with Wii games, and I can totally see the same players disliking this mechanic here. If you play for long sessions your arm could totally become tired. You can opt out of using motion controls, but only when playing the Switch in handheld mode.
Another new feature is the removal of random battles, which means Pokémon will now appear on the map alongside your character. This change is one I have really enjoyed and allows for chain-catching Pokémon, often leading to more rewards. It also removes some of the tedium of trying to catch that one rare monster and having to constantly flee from the ones you didn’t intend to catch. No longer requiring the player to stock up on Repels is a great addition as well since you can easily use Lures to attract the rare creatures. This has really changed the flow of the game for me and I am finding myself feeling less dread when going through certain areas (looking at you Rock Tunnel), making exploring these areas a much more enjoyable experience.
The graphics are not anything too intense, retaining the usual Pokémon flair seen in the last few generations, but of course with much higher fidelity. The best way to describe the graphics would be to imagine a colorful cartoon rendered in a 3D world. This one has more of an anime look to it and more closely resembles the cartoon series that so many kids grew up with. All of the Pokémon are more accurately represented in both size and scope, so when you see an Onix on the world map you will feel a sense of intensity that you may not have experienced in the past games.
As mentioned earlier, this time around we are returning to the Kanto region, a clear throwback to the original Red/Blue/Yellow games on the Game Boy. It’s fantastic seeing these familiar locations updated with new visuals and reimagined for this new game. Ardent fans of the original games will have a strong feeling of nostalgia that should heighten the gaming experience. This will likely be lost on newcomers, but it doesn’t make the game any less appealing. Some of the later games were themed a bit better, but for a remake this one still has plenty to discover.
Difficulty has been a consistently debated topic amongst fans for years and generally speaking if you are a returning player it should come as no surprise that this game is not really that challenging. The are no built-in difficulty modes to select from outside of choosing switch or set for your battle style. Nintendo has said on many occasions that this title was designed to bridge the gap for new players of the series and thus was never intended to be particularly hard. During Trainer battles you may still find some challenge especially towards the middle of the game and with the removal of Pokémon abilities, which had been a mainstay since Generation 3.
The original 151 Pokémon introduced in Red/Blue/Yellow are present, as well as a few of the new forms introduced in Sun and Moon. This decision doesn’t ruin the experience, but it would have been nice to have a few more (or even some new ones) to sweeten the deal. The rare Pokémon are still tricky to find, so expect to constantly be on the lookout for them. There is also a feature that allows players to transfer their collection from Pokémon Go, which is a cool idea but I didn’t bother to do that as I wanted to start fresh. If your transferred monster is too high of a level it won’t listen to you until you’ve adequately leveled up by earning Gym badges.
There have been many quality of life changes in the Let’s Go games, and they are very welcome. Hidden Machine moves (HMs) have been removed in favor of allowing the player to have any type of Pokémon alongside them to traverse obstacles, just like in Sun and Moon. The PC Box mechanic has also been changed, so you no longer need to make constant trips to Pokémon Centers to retrieve your newly caught monsters. You can access them from anywhere except while in battle.
I came into this game with somewhat of a poor attitude. I wanted a brand new core Pokémon game, and what we got was a remake of the originals. After playing through the entire game, I have to admit that despite the hand-holding stuff, I’m thrilled at the amount of fun I had. If you’re coming into this game with the same attitude I had, you also may find yourself pleasantly surprised. It’s charming and the partner Pokémon is fun and more fleshed out than what we saw back with Heart Gold/Silver. I like how it makes the character and Pokémon feel like they’re inhabiting the same space instead of having the world map and battles seem like two different planes of existence. Likewise, if you’ve hated previous games in the series I don’t think this one will change your mind. Returning fans and newcomers should definitely give it a shot. The world of Pokémon has a bright future on the Switch, and this title is really rolling out the metaphorical red carpet for the next core game in the series. Until that day arrives, Pokémon: Let’s Go is a great way to tide you over.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu/Eevee! Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Both fans and newcomers should find something to like with Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee! This remake of Yellow brings the nostalgia for longtime players, and the game looks great. A lackluster challenge, forced motion controls, and neutered combat system all detract from what could have been an amazing experience.