Review | Pokémon: Lets Go, Eevee/Pikachu!
Kanto is looking bright and shiny on a new console, but how does it play?
Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu have been around for almost half a year now and with the hype explosion for Sword and Shield dissipating until another announcement, I decided to take a look at this reboot of an iconic region. Despite the criticisms I kept seeing and hearing around the game, I am pleased to no end with the week I’ve spent playing it.
The graphical improvements since the 1996 classic are unsurprisingly staggering. Though it may not use the full graphical power of the Switch, it delivers a wonderfully bright and colourful recreation. There is a huge amount of delightful little additions as well to an otherwise familiar pallet town, such as little dolls and even a Nintendo Switch in your room. From here you are quickly introduced to your best friend and the local Poke Professor, who both guide you through the basics of how to catch and fight your cute little pets. It is here some of the most notable changes from the original games become apparent.
The most major change is the complete removal of the capture mechanics that have existed in core Pokémon games for over 20 years, instead fusing itself with the popular mobile game Pokémon GO. Even as a huge Pokémon GO fan, I was very sceptical on anything other than a touch screen, instead using the Joy-Cons to throw balls at restless Zubats. It didn’t take long to lose my scepticism however, having that connection with physical actions brought a little VR without the headset and had me hooked quickly. To accompany this a ‘chain capture’ system was introduced that allows you to get stronger and stronger versions of a Pokémon if its caught repeatedly, even including increased odds at the elusive shiny ones. Pokémon are also, for the first time in a core series game, visible wandering around the grassy and cavernous areas of the world. This makes chaining the Pokémon you want and identifying the shiny version leaps and bounds easier, which in my mind has made shiny collecting a much less monotonous exercise.
One of the other major changes from the original games is that you don’t get to pick a starter out of 3. Instead a wild Pikachu or Eevee, depending on which edition of the game you purchase, of unnatural strength wanders up to you and is used to show you how catching works in the game. From there on they become your first ever Pokémon, wandering around with you and will even play dress up with a range of cute little shirts and hats. Soon enough you will also unlock the ability to play with them, where you can happily sit for hours rubbing their chin or styling some nice hair, receiving happy purrs and sometimes even gifts in return. Your partner also gains access to ‘Secret Techniques’ as you progress, replacing the HM system. Instead of having a team, all with different skills for exploring the world, your partner can push around big boulders and even ride a bike covered in balloons without using up a single move slot.
Speaking of move slots, your partner can also learn a range of new moves exclusive to it and previously unseen in Pokémon games. These rather powerful moves always have bonus effects, such as healing the user or even removing status effects from the entire team. These new moves also have some outlandishly weird names, I can almost imagine my trainer yelling “Dodge that hyper beam and use Baddy Bad!” at my insanely powerful little Eevee.
As somebody who has played every core game and most of the spin offs, the lack difficulty in Let’s Go was immediately apparent. Money and items are in abundance and most NPCS give very clear tips and suggestions. In some cases, text is highlighted red so there is little chance you will ever get lost, which was something I remember doing frequently back in Pokémon Blue. None of this is necessarily bad and there is a good few little secrets still for you to find, but it can be annoying to have your hand held quite so much. This naturally makes the game much more accessible, which in my eyes is a good thing even if the price to pay is a less demanding game.
In the original games catching Mewtwo, hidden away in Cerulean cave, was about as interesting as the post-game got. This is not the case in Let’s GO, on top of Mewtwo a wave of ‘masters’ populates all areas of the playable world for you to challenge. These trainers all have a single Pokémon they specialise in and will only fight you if you have that same Pokémon. The reward for this dramatic one and one battle is little more than a title of ‘insert Pokémon name master’ in online lobbies, but it does give a nice little challenge to try.
Overall, despite not being quite the game a lot of people were expecting, I found Let’s Go to be an interesting and very enjoyable way to spend my week that will keep me coming back to try find my favourite shinies. I would happily recommend it to any Switch owner, it may not be particularly demanding or hardcore but it’s a good bit of relaxing fun. However, it may be worth waiting for a sale, as depending on how much time you spend chain catching it can all be over quickly.
Review Round Up:
Beautifully colourful aesthetic
Engaging and fun innovations to gameplay
Accessible to pros and newcomers alike
Price Tag is quite steep
Experienced players might find it far too easy