– In some respects the Let’s Go games are huge improvements on what has come before, and
in other ways, they are a real step back
leading to an interesting if uneven game.
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I have been playing Pokémon games since the first Red and Blue were released onto an expecting world not knowing the cultural touchstone they were creating. And besides that statement making me feel super old, it has been interesting to see the series change and develop while still holding fast to what came before. So today we are looking at the first Pokémon on the Nintendo Switch, which is a remake of Pokémon Yellow, which was a remix of the original Pokémon Red/Blue, that already had a remaster with FireRed/LeafGreen and with elements of Pokémon Go added to it, so it ends up with an interesting final product. Well, I have been playing it for a couple of days now, and while I have not beaten the Elite Four yet I do have a good idea about my feelings of the game.
So to set the scene, if you have never come across a Pokémon game before, it is an RPG about collecting Pokémon,training them, and then defeating the Elite Four to become the Pokémon Master. Along the way you will wake sleeping Snorlax, battle Team Rocket, take down Gym Leaders,and try to not make eye contact with any trainers as you race back to a Pokécenter because you forgot how many potions you have left in your bag. All of this is while you build your team and try now to get annoyed when not-Gary appears to give his snarky comments about you. For those playing at home, my team was Pikachu, Dragonite, Gyarados, Blastoise, Venusaur and Charizard. I picked my team for nostalgia this time around, not min/maxing.
The first thing you see when playing the game is just how beautiful the visuals are, and how much they hit on that nostalgia you have for times past. All the presentation shows that is the game at its height with detailed Pokémon models, engaging battle animations, and a wonderfully remastered soundtrack that both takes you back into the past but also feels very modern. One thing they could have updated is that we still are using the same old incomprehensible 8-bit Pokémon sounds. In this day and age, it does feel like an odd holdback to the past when and sits in an odd juxtaposition when you have Pikachu and Eevee fully voiced. Though, okay being able to dress up Pikachu with different outfits that he goes into battle in is probably the best feature I have seen in a long time.
It is not just the visuals that have been updated in the game, there are also a lot of game mechanic tweaks and complete revamps, some which are amazing additions and other that just well don’t work. This first big change and the one that I hope they keep for all future additions is that there are now no longer any random encounters in the game because you can see the individual Pokémon on the map. This has three main benefits, first, if you are looking for just the one Pokémon you don’t have to go through battle after random battle hoping to see the one you want. As well as this, it also makes the world feel alive with all the Pokémon flying/swimming/running all over the place. Finally, if you are trying to avoid battles as you run back to civilization, no longer will caves or large stretches of grass fill you with dread. Also, they have added in the little story assists that clear up some of the wasted backtracking time, though the hints do get a bit in your face at times.
The big new game mechanic that I think is going to divide people is the new Pokémon catching mechanic. In all games up until this point, what you would do is battle wild Pokémon down until they are low in health and the let the Pokéballs fly, with maybe some stun spore if you had a particular stubborn Pokémon. In this game, everything has changes taking on more of the style you see in Pokémon Go. Instead of a battle, catching Pokémon is now like a mini-game where you have to get the Pokéball to hit the Pokémon that is often moving, you get bonuses if you get the ball in a closing circle, and you can use some berries to help.
Now this is a change and any major change tends to elicit an immediate negative response and I don’t think it is that bad. So once you work out how all the mechanics work you do start to get into the flow of how it all works and the immediate negative reaction starts to subside. Though I will say catching Pokémon becomes significantly more difficult when you are on a bus or walking as it messes with the internal Switch accelerometers and Gyroscopes. However, the big issue is all the flow-on decisions that need to happen because of this change in game design. So gone are fishing rods and bikes, gone are a lot of the items in the game, also my favourite area The Safari Zone. It also means that the only way to train your Pokémon is by catching wild Pokémon. This adds that whole Pokémon Go mechanic of dumping excess Pokémon back to Professor Oak which is not something I am interested in doing. However, the more important issue is the game has Exp-share on as default and as far as I can see there is no way to turn it off. I can understand given this is pitched to younger players having this as an option, but mandatory is just frustrating.
In the end, do we recommend Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu/ Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee? Yes, yes I would. There are some aspects of the game that is frustrating, and the new catching mechanic may be a deal breaker for you, and I completely understand that. However, the production in the game is really high, and I do have to say that the nostalgia hit was still there, and I still had to catch them all.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on
Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you played Pokémon Let’s Go?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the staff of Pokémon Let’s Go
Game Direction – Junichi Masuda
Game Design – Takao Unno
Game Design/Writing – Hitomi Sato & Ryota Muranaka
Developer – Game Freak
Publisher – The Pokémon Company & Nintendo