“Gotta catch ’em all!”
RELEASED: November 16th 2018
DEVELOPED BY: Game Freak
PUBLISHED BY: The Pokémon Company & Nintendo
Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu / Eevee! are remakes of the first generation of Pokémon games, specifically the special edition Pokémon: Yellow, where, instead of getting to choose from a Bulbasaur, Charmander or Squirtle as your starter Pokémon at the beginning of your journey, you are instead given a Pikachu (or Eevee, depending on the version you buy). Similarly, rather than being a straight-up remake, Let’s Go! meshes in some of the gameplay mechanics of the popular Pokémon GO! mobile game, to create a new-user friendly variant of the classic Pokémon games that hoped to capitalise on GO!‘s huge success.
As always, you start off your adventure in Pallet Town, getting your starter Pokémon from Professor Oak, before travelling off to try and ‘Catch ’em all!’, defeat the eight gym leaders, take down the villainous Team Rocket, and become the champion of the Pokémon League.
A lot of the game is quite similar to those early nineties games, with some characters seemingly having the same dialogue verbatim to what they say in the original games. However, there’s also a lot that has changed as well, incorporating features introduced in newer games such as Omega Ruby & Alpha Saphire, X & Y and (Ultra) Sun and Moon, such as the newer 3D graphics, being able to design your character, change your clothes and play with your partner Pokémon, to increase their affection for you.
It’s a much-needed update to those classic games (I played Pokémon: Yellow on my Nintendo 3DS a few months ago, and while it was a nostalgic experience, it’s very outdated. Painfully so), incorporating the best bits of all the previous games into one very fun experience. For instance, being able to see Pokémon roam around in the overworld is a blessing – it makes the world feel so much more alive and real, and also gives the benefit of you being able to seek out certain Pokémon rather than just aimlessly roaming around for hours on end in the hopes you’ll find what you’re looking for.
The catching dynamic also makes your journey more efficient, although I can very much understand why diehard Pokémon fans may not be a fan. Like in Pokémon GO!, with the exception of Snorlax, Moltress, Articuno, Zapdos and Mewtwo, when encountering wild Pokémon, you skip the battle and go straight to throwing Pokéballs at them (not unlike the opening scenes of Detective Pikachu). It makes the whole experience quicker and more streamlined, and in my opinion makes the whole ‘Gotta Catch ‘Em All!’ aspect of the Pokémon games much more achievable; especially with the ability to transfer Pokémon you’ve caught on Pokémon GO! over to Let’s Go!
Of course, I still have the age-old problem with these games that a lack of friends means I can’t trade the likes of Machoke, Graveller, Haunter and Kadabra to evolve them into Machamp, Golem, Gengar and Alakazam, respectively. And I think the lack of the cross-generational evolutions, such as Steelix, Scizor, Mime Jr. and others is a missed opportunity to show what sort of Pokémon would actually inhabit the Kanto Region with the benefit of hindsight gained from later games.
There’s also the issue that the only way to officially obtain the legendary Pokémon Mew in this game is to buy the Pokéball Plus – a Pokéball shaped Switch controller – which costs £40 (although you can just buy a trade off of eBay for £2, but that’s obviously less official), locking the complete experience of the game behind a paywall.
While this is a much more simplistic take on Pokémon (which I personally appreciate, as I know that the core games will continue with the more conventional Sword & Shield around November) , it is a nice way for people to ease in after playing Pokémon GO!, or even just start out with as a remake of the original games. There are tons of things here (like Pokémon in the overworld) that I hope will return in the upcoming games (but they almost certainly wont, unless we get a Let’s Go 2) and other things (such as ‘Fly’ now being changed into Pikachu operating a ridiculous balloon-powered flying machine) that I think are acceptable as a one-and-done, but will be glad to see the last of.
But overall, regardless of your relationship with Pokémon (as long as you like Pokémon at least a little bit, that is), it’s a game worth playing. It’s a simple remake for those needing that nostalgia kick and those looking for a place to start and has extra content (such as the Red/Blue/Yellow playable character Red, OG rival Blue and playable character Green from LeafGreen/FireRed making appearances and cementing this as more of a requel than a remake) for those who want to keep battling to be the best in the post-game content after you’ve beaten the Elite Four.
All-in-all, I give Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu!:
For delivering a fun update that actually manages to take the tired first region of Pokémon (Kanto) and make it feel fresh and alive again. Case in point:
Blaine’s Cinnabar Island Gym revamp is hilarious, and just one of many gems littered throughout this game.