Let’s Go on so many levels indeed!
To call Pokemon a marketing phenomenon would be fair. Even if you are not into games, it’s even money you know Pikachu. You may not realise what Pikachu is, but you know the little yellow mascot by sight and possibly the call.
This all came to a head a couple of years ago with a massive surge in popularity due to Pokemon Go. Droves of people were walking everywhere trying to catch all the Pokemon. True, initially it was probably the sizable number of fans that always wanted to catch a Pokemon themselves, but the media frenzy that followed definitely got a lot of people that had never played a Pokemon game loading Pokemon Go onto their phones.
So what is Pokemon Let’s Go?
To say Pokemon Let’s Go is a remaster of the original Gameboy Pokemon Yellow isn’t quite right. A lot of the story elements are there, the basic map and abilities are all present, but a lot of the game has been modified as well.
Pokemon Let’s Go is a new gateway game to the world of Pokemon, with many nods to the old school fans. Gameplay has also been tuned to make the game accessible for the players that Pokemon Go is their only background to the world of Pokemon.
This made the initial reception to Pokemon Let’s Go mixed for some. The hardcore audience screamed that the series had been dumbed down, while some new players were overwhelmed with the adventure and complexity of the world compared to Pokemon Go.
My take: Game Freak, Nintendo and the Pokemon Company took the opportunity to not only update a 20-year-old game, but to update the entire series in such a way that a whole new way of playing was introduced.
And it works well.
I’m not going to beat about the bush – the story isn’t anything super special. If you want a deep narrative that rivals the greatest literary works, this isn’t it.
Yes, you get to beat the 8 gym leaders and then take on the elite 4 to become a Pokemon Champion. You get to stop Team Rocket and their ‘evil plans’.
The overall story is enjoyable but predictable. As I said – kids game.
There are moments that are beautiful. Playing with your Partner Pokemon is adorable, even if it’s not part of the story proper. And reuniting Cubone with its mother pulled more heartstrings than a story like this deserved.
Describing the story of Pokemon Let’s Go is like describing a day out at a park or something similar. You remember the highlights and the individual moments and somehow gloss over the mundane things that you did for most of the day.
Yes, like any adventure game you grind facing other trainers to be strong enough to battle the next leader. You run around for hours catching various Pokemon. But the individual moments make it all worthwhile to see it through to the end.
The old school changes – the story run
One of the biggest changes to a traditional Pokemon game (even ones as recent as Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon) is the random battles required to capture Pokemon.
You used to walk around and wander in fields of grass and hope that the Pokemon you wanted to catch would appear. Then you had to battle it, and hope you didn’t knock it out, then when you wore it down, you could throw your Poke Balls at it to try and catch it.
This worked and allowed you to give your Pokemon experience to level them up and improve their stats. Just like any other RPG, your individual stats don’t matter, it’s your parties stats that count.
Unlike most other RPG’s however, you aren’t the hero of the quest battling whatever comes along – that’s what your Pokemon do, so they need to increase their skills.
While fun, this quickly became repetitive, the very definition of ‘the grind’ of RPGs everywhere. Coupled with the random chance of Pokemon appearing, this quickly put off a lot of casual gamers in the past.
Pokemon Let’s Go takes advantage of the much-improved graphics and storage capabilities of the Switch to change this up. Now as you explore Kanto, you can actually see the Pokemon inhabiting the land around you. Don’t want to capture any more Weedles? Don’t walk into them, and problem solved!
You also don’t have to fight the Pokemon first. Taking inspiration from Pokemon Go, if you see a Pokemon all you have to do is capture them. Better Poke Balls give better odds of capturing them, and you can use different berries to stop Pokemon from running around the screen or like you a little more to help.
Pokemon can run away, which can be frustrating. You can throw a lot of Ultra Poke Balls at a Pokemon,, run out and capture the same Pokemon with a standard ball first time. But what you can’t do is accidentally knock out the Pokemon, stopping you from attempting the capture at all.
The Old School Changes – Post Game
For those that screamed ‘It’s too easy!’ when Pokemon Let’s Go launched, this is where they should probably have stuck with it.
A lot has been added to the post-game content.
You can hunt down and catch some legendary Pokemon, such as MewTwo, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. Not that unusual as post-game content, but it’s there!
Finding the Mega Evolution stones should also be on your list.
Also on the cards are the original two rival trainers, Red and Green as well as Blue. Finding more powerful trainers sounds standard as well, but these aren’t the only three.
Pokemon Let’s Go also has Master Trainers. These are trainers that have trained one specific Pokemon to level 75. Not only do you have to beat them with the same Pokemon, but without any items or assistance as well!
Now people were complaining about levelling up Pokemon as the main experience source was catching Pokemon, and Poke Balls cost. Unlike any other Pokemon Game I have played, you can continue to face Gym Leaders and the Elite Four for experience and a cash boost at any time!
While not everyone will want to do these activities, this should be what every hardcore Pokemon player was hoping for. Yes, you have to finish the game to get to this, but this becomes the biggest collectible/side quest Pokemon I have ever seen!
And fair, I have only finished Yellow, Sun and Ultra Moon until now – but that’s kind of the point. Pokemon has been almost the same game for over 20 years – it’s great to see something new in the mix!
Pokemon Go Integration
A game heavily influenced by Pokemon Go, many including myself were intrigued by the idea of importing between the two games.
I managed a connection once, imported Ditto, and then didn’t do it again.
Don’t be put off by this though – if you are a keen Pokemon Go player with all of the Pokemon to transfer, the ability to play with Pokemon in Let’s Go is amazing! You just don’t need to do it to play the game, and I found the process annoyingly unintuitive.
Biggest issue – Pokemon Let’s Go doesn’t like sharing Bluetooth connections. If you have a Fitbit or similar tracker, prepare for some issues. But once it was working, the experience was fun, and it’s a great way to bring in some missing Pokemon if you don’t have anyone to trade with for the missing Pokemon between Eevee and Pikachu.
Poke Ball Plus
I already talked about this in my Poke Ball Plus review, but this was a fun add-on to the whole game.
Controller wise, it worked reasonably well. The motion controls I actually found better than the single Joy Con. I wasn’t as happy with the fact that you had to shake the ball to use the Y button though. Overall this isn’t an issue, but because shaking in battle brings in a partner, if you don’t know exactly what a move does (bought up by the Y button) you are in trouble.
But taking your Pokemon for a walk makes up for all that in a lot of ways. Read the review for my full thoughts, but if you are only going to get Pokemon Let’s Go, it may be an expensive luxury.
What’s this about 2 players being deceptive?
The one thing I was hoping to try was playing with my Partner, but timing kind of killed that. In some ways though, it’s kind of lucky it did.
It’s true you can have a helper in the game, the second player. But that player controls one of your party and uses your Poke Balls to try and catch Pokemon.
They don’t get any benefit at all other than helping you out, and you don’t even need another person. Pokemon is turn-based, so if you are having trouble in a fight you can just play both ‘trainers’ yourself with a second controller.
Now this is great if you have little ones that are having trouble in a fight or catching Pokemon. You will be playing together and helping rather than taking over the game. But playing the whole game like this? I feel it’s a little less than advertised.
I didn’t play constantly, but I enjoyed Pokemon Let’s Go every time I picked it up. Personally, I don’t have a preference for Eevee or Pikachu so my choice was dictated by my partner getting Pikachu. Both games are almost identical, with a few Pokemon only available in the other game.
If you are interested in Pokemon or are curious about turn-based role-playing games, Pokemon Let’s Go is a great choice for you. Light enough with a little handholding in-game to teach you the ropes, but enough in it to keep the interest intact.
Even as a relatively hardcore RPG player, Pokemon Let’s Go was a fun experience that I will probably keep picking back up to beat all those Master Trainers for some time to come. It has a surprising amount of depths and layers around it, making it one of the better examples of ‘the game you want it to be’ for quite some time.
Until next time,
Not sure what the score means? Check out my Review Scores explanation for more info!