The Best Pokemon Game To Date? – Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! Review

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is Nintendo’s first foray into the core Pokemon series on home consoles. Finally returning to Kanto after a 14 year hiatus, Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is a spicy re-imagining of Pokemon Yellow, which in and of it self is a re-imagining of the original Red and Blue. Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! comes out the gate swinging with hods of quality of life changes, bold innovations and some of the most divisive additions to ever grace the mainline series. Grab your rubber gloves and stylish cap, because we are delving into what these games are all about.

The first thing that will hit you when you first boot up Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is its undeniably, beautifully realised world. Gone is the weird greenish glow of the originals – instead you are graced with gorgeous HD visuals that are crispier than cream cracker. It feels like you are playing how your childhood imagination thought these games looked like 20 years ago, and my god it is glorious. Kanto has had a fine toothed comb ran over it and has been var neigh perfectly recreated with tiny details, like NPC placement, being adhered to like gospel.

The nostalgia was what got me initially invested, but it was the series shattering additions that elevated the world beyond arguably any the series has seen to date. Gone are the traditional random encounters. In their place wild Pokemon wander the world in real time ready for you to catch. Each of the 151 Pokemon are meticulously designed to scale and uniquely animated, bringing the world to life for the first time. My inner (and actual) child were giddy with excitement whenever a new Pokemon appeared on our screen and this continued throughout my 30 hour initial play-through.

The addition of wandering Pokemon is not merely cosmetic. It alters the games core mechanics in a way that fixes a lot of tired tropes often found in older RPG’s, namely: grinding and tedious battles, an issue thankfully fixed when it comes to the legendary Zubat nest known as Mt. Moon. Now you just pick a Pokemon you want to catch and away you go.

Whilst traveling the world, collecting Gym Badges, conquering the Pokemon League and stopping prolific PokeCriminals Team Rocket has mostly stayed the same, the act of catching your Pokemon has changed drastically. Game Freak have more or less abandoned the tried and tested formula of ‘fight > weaken > catch’ and have instead adopted a style very reminiscent of Niantic’s Pokemon GO. In essence, you select a Pokeball, feed your target a berry and then throw. Your chance of success is determined by accuracy, timing with ball and berry quality being contributing factors too.

This is likely to be the thing that turns many ‘hard-core’ PokeFans off Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! but I would strongly urge you to put those negative feelings aside for now. This system is very satisfying and probably most importantly – quick. You can hit up a densly populated area and clear it a minute or two, wracking up experience and new Pokemon in a satisfying loop.

You have multiple options when it comes to actually throwing your ball. If you are playing docked, then you use your Joy Con and do a basic throwing motion. This is simple, effective and very satisfying in terms of game-feel. In Handheld mode you use your analogue stick to aim, and press the ‘A’ button to throw. I personally found this method to be inferior both in terms of accuracy and fun, but your mileage may vary and I recommend trying both methods out.

Since its first reveal Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! has been lambasted with criticism that its difficulty will be on the low side of the spectrum. This can’t be denied, Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is an easy game through and through, but don’t let that turn you off, there is a lot of positives that come from this seemingly negative change. Firstly, it is more streamlined and most importantly – fun system. The usual chore of grinding up levels by slowly switching out your weak Pokemon with your stronger ones is completely gone. Catch a Pokemon? party wide EXP. Win a battle? you guessed it, party wide EXP. This just cuts down on the tedium. Add to this the previously touched upon lack of random encounters and you have a very refined RPG experience.

The difficulty is further impacted in a positive way by the inclusion of co-op multiplayer. This lets you and a friend team up and tackle the whole game as partners. This lets you catch Pokemon easier as you get to utilise the very impressive Sync Throw, a technique that uses 2x the number of Pokeballs but the trade off is a greatly boosted catch rate and hefty EXP multiplier. It also lets you fight together in a 2v1 scenario when you eventually start battling trainers. This might crush all semblance of difficulty, but it is a welcome addition that you never need to touch if you don’t want to.

Speaking of battling, Pokemon Trainers litter Kanto and are very happy to try and take your lunch money. Unlike most other features in Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee!, this one is relatively untouched. Battles are a turn based affair where you and your opponent take turns bashing each others Pokemon into submission using a variety of attacks. As is to be expected, each attack comes with a typing that is strong or weak against certain types of Pokemon. Utilising these weaknesses is the key to victory and where the majority of the strategy comes from.

EV’s and IV’s also make a welcome return in their most transparent form to date. Essentially no two Pokemon are the same, and their stats are determined by their IV’s. Better the stats, the better the Pokemon. You can see from a glance which Pokemon are worth the effort when it comes to training your dream team. The best way to ensure good IV’s is by using the Combo system. Catch the same kind of Pokemon over and over and their IV’s will start to increase drastically. This has a knock on effect of also increasing your rare Pokemon spawn chance, in addition to your chance to nab a ludicrously rare Shiny variant. Best part is, if you don’t want to delve into the number crunching, then you can do perfectly fine without ever touching the system.

Hard-core fans are also treated to a fairly hefty slough of endgame content in the form of legendary trainer battles (of whom you can discover the identity of yourselves), Legendary Pokemon hunts and the inclusion of 150 Master Trainers. Master Trainers rock a level 75 variant of 1 of the 150 Pokemon in the game, and task you with beating them in a mirror match. Oh and you can’t use items. This is a very meaty addition that will take a quite sometime to grind through, but if you are up to the challenge, you get a bunch of bragging rights and maybe something extra…who knows?

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! has a few extra features to sweeten the deal. Firstly is the inclusion of the Pokemon GO Park – a late game area whereby you can transfer Pokemon from Pokemon GO to Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee!. This makes nabbing all 151 Pokemon much more attainable than previous entries in the series, and also lets you nab version exclusive Pokemon without having to trade. The Park also has the added bonus of doubling as a mini-games hub of sorts. Transfer 25 of the same Pokemon and you unlock a mini-game that allows you to earn candy. A fun distraction, although I imagine transferring 25 Mewtwo’s might give some people a panic attack.

Finally the game also has an online suite. Unfortunately it is very limited in functionality. Online battles have no way to search or queue and trading suffers from a lack of auction house or notice board feature. These both lead you to third party forums to arrange battles and trades, and that is just clunky and frankly not acceptable in this day and age. I stuck to transferring from Pokemon GO and avoided battles all together.

Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is far from a perfect game, but the innovations it brings to the table are quite literally game changers. I don’t think I could ever go back to traditional random encounters, and whilst I’m not 100% sold on replacing the catching system, it works wonderfully for this title. Whether youre a fan of the series or a newcomer Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go, Eevee! is a game everyone should absolutely try. It is a nostalgia filled journey that kept me playing well after the credits rolled.

This is a solid 3 on the toaster scale. You pop it in, and get exactly what you’d expect: A solid slice of toast. Could do with a bit of butter, but you forgot to wash your knife.

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