It all started in Japan in 1996 (’99 in the UK). That was the first time gamers first set foot in the Kanto region, the first time they collected Pokémon, the first time they caught a Magikarp… with a Master Ball. That’s when it all started, this Pokémon fever, and gamers around the world just couldn’t get enough. Fast forward a good 22 years, and it’s time to relive those fabled memories, as well as create new ones for a new generation in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee.
Is Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee an evolution you’ve always dreamed of, or is it not very effective? Find out in our review, after the break!
Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee
Developed by Game Freak
Published by Nintendo
Released: 18th November 2018
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Reviewed on Let’s Go Eevee
I still just about remember my experiences in generation one, also known as Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow. True, I may have only been about four or five years old, and I had no ruddy idea what was going on, but even then it was fun running around Kanto, getting myself into random battles on an itty bitty screen.
Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee aims to let you relive past memories from those games in a modern way and even bring the old generation to a completely new one. You begin your adventure in Pallet Town, when it is finally time to own your very first Pokémon. A mischievous Eevee or a charming Pikachu (depending on which version you play) is hanging about town, waiting to be caught. The Pokémon is full of energy and just doesn’t want to stay in a Pokéball, and after a heartwarming series of cute events, a new friendship is born, and you set off to become the very best, like no-one ever was!
The gameplay remains relatively the same. You’ll be exploring the vast region of Kanto, from town to town, where you’ll catch Pokémon to pit against the Pokémon gym leaders. Defeating a gym leader will grant you their gym badge, as well as one step closer to the Elite Four of the Pokémon League.
There has been a slight change to gyms in Let’s Go. Before, you could just walk into a gym and have you behind handed to you if you were under levelled. Now you have to meet a specific requirement to take on a gym, such as having a Pokémon of a specific level, showing a grass type Pokémon, or even just a cute one. This is a pretty nice addition for the most part as it encourages players to work on their Pokémon a bit more before taking on a gym.
Recently, it seems that Nintendo have really been keeping speerdunners in mind, especially with Super Mario Odyssey. Unfortunately gym requirements may put a damper on several speed runners, especially in the Fuchsia City Gym, which requires you to have at least 50 Pokémon. On the other hand however, this could cause speedrunners to come up with a new strategy on the quickest way to collect 50 Pokémon on their way to Fuchsia City… it will be interesting to see how it is perceived by the speedrunning community.
As the title suggests, there’s a lot of focus on either Pikachu or Eevee, they’ll be your partner in crime throughout your adventure. They’re a bit reluctant to get into a Pokéball, so they’ll spend the majority of their time perched on your head, ain’t that cute. They definitely have quite a bit of personality as often at times they will try to get your attention depending on your surroundings. It’s the cutest thing when Eevee is pumped up after a successful battle, or if she is spooked by the Pokémon Tower of Lavender Town. What’s even cuter is being able to play with them. Who knows, they may offer more help in battle if you’re friendly enough.
It is also possible to customise your Pikachu or Eevee for maximum cuteness… because let’s face it, customisation is an important thing. You can purchase and find a range of clothing items for them to change their style, you can even give them a new hairdo while petting them.
Friendship is also a powerful thing. Because of your deep bond with Pikachu or Eevee, they are determined to learn a range of secret techniques to help you bypass obstacles, they are basically the hidden moves from RBY. They can cut through trees, light up dark caves, and even ride some waves. In addition to this, they can also learn special moves exclusive to that Pokémon. See, they aren’t just there to look cute, they can also kick some fury tail.
One of the biggest changes to the series, which I actually enjoy, is the way you capture Pokémon. Before, you would get approached by a random Pokémon in the wild which you then had to battle, whittling down their health. When their health is relatively low, that’s you chance to throw a Pokéball to try and capture them. Once they have been captured, you can also choose to have one of them, in addition to Pikachu or Eeve, to follow you around outside of their Pokéball… some may even let you ride the.
Let’s Go however, takes inspiration from Pokémon GO where you’ll be able to see wild Pokémon in the wild, no more random encounters. This means you don’t have to rely on complete random chance to get the Pokémon you want which, to be honest, felt a bit tedious at times. Additionally, you no longer need to battle the Pokémon. Instead you just need to aim and flick the JoyCon controller or Pokéball Plus accessory. If you are in handheld mode, you can just aim with the gyro and press A. To better your chances at successfully capturing a Pokémon, you can choose to throw a berry, or even use a more powerful Pokéball.
This method of capturing Pokémon has definitely divided fans somewhat. I understand that the old way added more of a challenge and tension to play, however I feel that the old way felt a bit too tedious, especially when filling out your Pokédex. Capturing is definitely a lot more streamlined. This also makes it easier to introduce Pokémon to a younger generation, especially if they started off on Pokémon GO.
One thing which is a shame however, is the fact that some people with certain mobility difficulties may have a bit of trouble capturing Pokémon with motion controls being mandatory. This may be even more difficult when they get to Pokémon that move around lots during encounters, even I had a few difficulties with those!
Capturing is also a good way to try and level up your own party as you’ll gain EXP after successful captures. It may not be much at the beginning of the game, but when you get to the likes of Rapidash and Onyx, that’s when you can get a sweet EXP boost. There are also elements which increase this further such as the technique and timing of your throw, as well as if it is a small or large version of the Pokémon. Additionally, capturing multiple Pokémon of the same species in a row will increase the chances of more powerful Pokémon appearing… who knows, maybe you’ll gain the attention of a shiny. It’s those extra bits which really make capturing a lot more interesting.
Want to introduce the world of Pokémon to a younger generation which may be a bit to young to properly understand on their own? Why not grab a second JoyCon and get them to join you in two player co-op. It allows a second player to join in the action without too much responsibility. At almost anytime, a second player, say a younger sibling or even a grandparent, can join you in Kanto to help capture Pokémon or battle other trainers. It’s the perfect way to help someone out in a tough spot or just let them feel included.
The difficulty seems to be just right with Pokémon Let’s Go. I never really felt the main part of the game was too difficult or too easy, which is really great. There are definitely tough trainers out there to beat, but as long as you are training up your Pokémon right, you’ll be able to push through. Additionally, you are not forced to battle every single trainer, sure some are mandatory, but you can still skip a few if needed. This isn’t always recommended though as you don’t want to get to your next gym under powered.
If you do want a real challenge, then I would recommend staying beyond the end game. Once you have conquered the Pokémon League, 153 master trainers will appear across Kanto. It isn’t a coincidence that there are also 153 Pokémon to register in your Pokédex (including the brand new Melton and legendary Melmetal). Defeating a master trainer will gain you the master trainer title for a specific Pokémon, but doing so offers a great challenge. Not only are they a high level, but you’ll also only be able to use one specific Pokémon per trainer without the aid of items.
As you could with previous games, you can also trade and battle other players both online and locally in Pokémon Let’s Go. With battling, you can either choose to battle with one Pokémon at a time, or two. Something which I find a bit annoying however is the fact that there is no friend list feature. Instead you’ll need to enter a three ‘digit’ link code and hope you match with your friend on the other side. It just seems a bit lazy if I’m completely honest.
A traditional Pokémon game never looked so good. Saying the game has been graphically remastered would be a complete understatement. Gone are the 8-bit days, now the game looks more akin to that of Pokémon Sun and Moon, but in HD! The art style really does suit the game too, it really deepens the charm that RBY had back in the day. One issue I did have though was the UI. At times the menus, primarily the bag, felt a bit cumbersome and disorganised.
A cool option you can choose to buy into is the use of the Pokéball Plus controller. You can control the game solely using the Pokéball shaped controller. The button on the front acts like a control stick while pressing it down is like pressing A. There’s a discrete button on the top used for B, and shaking it will let you enter menus and more. Each new Pokéball Plus accessory also comes with one Mew (which can only be transferred to a game once per Pokéball). Though this is the only method to capturing a Mew at this time, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a distribution event for it somewhere down the line.
The Pokéball Plus really makes you feel more like a Pokémon trainer, especially when it comes to catching Pokémon. It even has a speaker inside which plays Pokéball and Pokémon sounds during encounters. One of my favourite aspects about the controller is how you can take any one of your Pokémon for a stroll with you in real life. Holding down the control stick will let you play with your Pokémon, it will even make sounds when you give the ball a little shake. When you return, the Pokémon will also gain EXP based on how often you played with it and how far you walked. It’s function is very similar to that of the Pokéwalker.
The controller, though a bit small, actually feels very comfortable in the hand. It doesn’t feel like some cheap toy, there’s actually a bit of weight to it and the silicone finish is a nice touch. What’s pretty annoying however is how it is easy to change the orientation. This means that sometimes I’ll end up moving in unexpected directions. Additionally, sometimes pressing the front button may cause you to move the control stick. This has lead to me making battle selections I never intended to.
Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eeve has been a delightful reintroduction into the world of Kanto. It feels so new yet so familiar. The new catching technique streamlines capturing Pokémon so well, I even look forward to my Pokémon encounters. The entire game is just unbelievably cute, thanks to our Eevee and Pikachu partners. Sure there are a few niggles here and there, but that never really dampens my enjoyment of my Pokémon journey.
Final Rating – 4.5 out of 5
Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee is out now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.