Pokemon has been a cultural phenomenon since the late ‘90s, and it only seems to be getting more popular every year. With the release of each new set of cards, movie, TV show or video game, the fighting ‘mons reach even more gamers of all ages. That growth continues with the release of the new pair of games for the Nintendo Switch, Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!. Whilst similar, I personally went with Pikachu’s game, so that’s where all of my thoughts will be coming from, although if past games are any indicator, differences between the games will be miniscule.
Let’s Go takes trainers back to the Kanto region in a reboot of sorts, following the same basic story of the original Green/Blue, Red and Yellow versions, with some slight story changes. The main change to the tale is that instead of your rival being your childhood enemy and grandson of Prof. Oak, he is now your best friend, and the grandson (named Blue) is a completely different character. It doesn’t impact the game that much, but it is pretty cool when Blue shows up for the first time.
Also, the game guides where you need to go, whereas you were completely on your own to figure it out for yourself in the originals. An example of this is after clearing the third Gym (kind of a boss battle for those unfamiliar with Pokemon), a character shows you where Diglett’s Tunnel is, which you go through to reach the NPC that brings the ability to light up dark caves. The me of 20 years ago didn’t know about that and stumbled around a black cave for a while… There are several instances where you are led to the next area either directly or through dialogue, which is honestly very welcome, even if it does feel like the game is hand holding.
The biggest overall change though centres around everything that links Let’s Go to the phone game, Pokemon GO! I mean that literally and figuratively. You can actually link the two games and send Pokemon from your phone to the Switch.
There are a couple drawbacks, however. You can only transfer from GO to Let’s Go, not the other way. You can also only send “Gen 1” Pokemon, or the original 151, plus the newly introduced Meltan and its evolution, Melmetal. On top of that, any transferred Pokemon lose a ton of CP, or Combat Power. It is a great way to help complete the PokeDex, though, and is the only way to get Meltan and Melmetal at the moment. The wild Pokemon encounters are basically identical to those of GO. You don’t get to actually battle the wild Pokemon, just throw berries and Pokeballs at them, with the exception of Snorlax and the Legendaries, which are a combination of both. Any Pokemon captured can be sent to Prof. Oak for candies that can raise your Pokemon’s stats, very similar to GO.
There are a lot of other changes that don’t really affect the game, but are noticeable, especially if you played the originals, or even the first remakes, Fire Red and Leaf Green. The most noticeable to me are the prerequisites for challenging the eight Gyms. They range from having a certain type or level of Pokemon to just having a cute Pokemon. Most of them are in place to make sure you were actually prepared to take on the Leader. The other big change is the lack of a PC to store your extra Pokemon in. Instead, you have a “Pokemon Box”; always with you in your bag, allowing the swap out of your team at any time, even in the middle of the Elite Four.
Similar to Ultra Sun/Moon, the latest Pokemon games for the 3DS, there are no HM moves. In their place are different techniques that Pikachu can learn that do the same things as the HMs without taking up a move slot. The other changes are fairly minor though and seem to be in an effort to make the games even more child friendly than they already were; things like not being able to actually play the slots at the Game Corner anymore, and the old guy outside of the Celadon City Gym no longer talking about checking out the girls inside.
There are several other small changes, such as the lack of fishing, held items, and Pokemon abilities. The latter two things weren’t in the original games, but have become staples of the series in subsequent generations. Although these may seem to be very noticeable, I don’t feel that the game is, at any point, affected negatively by them.
With all the Pokemon goodness coming out now and in the near future (I’m looking at you, Ryan Reynolds), there’s never been a better time to be a Pokemon fan. Whether this is your first time visiting the Kanto region, or you’ve stood atop the Indigo Plateau victorious before, Let’s Go Pikachu! will be sure to capture your inner trainer’s heart.
Overall, and whilst I’ve focused on the Pikachu! side of things, the Let’s Go pair gets 4 out of 5 Pokeballs.
Release date: November 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)