Both games return to the setting of the original Pokémon games, the Kanto region. And both games come highly recommended by my family’s resident Pokémon experts, my 19-year-old twins.
The influence of Pokémon Go is obvious on these new games and they found that is mostly a good thing. Multiple mechanics from Pokémon Go have been integrated into the Let’s Go games in order to be an entry point for new console players who were introduced to the series only by the mobile game.
However, it still manages to be quite enjoyable for franchise veterans like my twins.
How good? My twins made a list after playing for three days straight, the most they’ve played any of the Switch games:
The Poké Ball Plus
We tested the Poké Ball Plus in the three different modes available on the Switch: tabletop, handheld, and the docked TV mode.
The coolest part of the Poké Ball remains the feeling of “tossing” (don’t really let it go!) and catching a Pokémon, the closest anyone will ever come to truly catching a fictional pocket monster.
Conclusion: this worked much better docked than in the other two modes. Otherwise, it can be awkward to use.
The other cool part, for gameplay, is that the Poké Ball Plus comes with access to Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon in existence. However, releasing Mew from the Poké Ball is not an easy affair. After a quick Google search, we found that what you have to do to release Mew is to start the game, set the controller to the Poké Ball, and select “communicate” from the in-game menu. From there, if you don’t have a Nintendo account, you must set one up.
The transfer of Mew took only a minute, once all that was done.
The first thing that hit me about the game as early as Pallet Town, the first town in the game, was the graphics. They are gorgeous, with bright colors and a decidedly anime aesthetic.
The Pokémon models, especially for Eevee, are expressive and well-animated. The cutscenes are brilliantly framed, giving off a more cinematic feel with the angles and such used. And the environments, while still clearly the original Kanto region and using the same layouts as well, look better than any previous Pokémon game’s environments by a wide margin.
The Nostalgia Factor
A large amount of dialogue was cribbed from previous GBA remakes, Pokémon FireRed and Pokémon LeafGreen. Those games also took place in Kanto and were also the first Pokémon games I’d ever played. While part of this COULD be chalked up to laziness and being unwilling to retranslate text that has already been translated competently, I rather enjoyed it as it brought back much nostalgia.
When we fired up these games for the first time, I flashed back to when I got my first Pokémon game, Pokémon FireRed, on Christmas morning. The opening of Let’s Go, Pikachu!, particularly Pallet Town, was much like Fire Red. It’s the same map of the town but the three-dimensional graphics give it a fresh look. Plus, the music is also almost identical to the music used in the FireRed Pallet Town.
No More Random Encounters
One new mechanic taken from Pokémon Go is that there are no longer random encounters. All the Pokémon you can encounter are seen on the overworld. This makes areas that were once a slog to get through, such as the winding caves of Mt. Moon, much easier, as the infamously high encounter rate of the Pokémon Zubat in that area is no longer an issue.
This also means that if you want to avoid catching specific Pokémon, or conversely, want to catch large amounts of one species, you can easily do so without having to go through different species first. And, following on that…
The Pokémon Box
In Pokémon games up to now, you had to go to the Pokémon Center and take additional, non-party Pokémon out of your PC to use them. In these games, you just go into your inventory, select Pokémon Box, and all the Pokémon you’ve caught in the game are there, easily available.
The New Catching Combo System
The catching combo system is another cool new mechanic. If you attempt to catch multiple Pokémon of one specific species in succession, you will rack up combos in this new combo system. This means that the likelihood of catching either more powerful Pokémon of that species or rarer Pokémon of different species much higher. For example, in one area I caught about 10 of the Pokémon species Pidgey in succession and ran into the rather rare Pokémon Bulbasaur because of it.
Overall Catching System Upgrade
Speaking of catching Pokémon, compared to previous main games in the series, the catching system has seen a complete overhaul more in the vein of Pokémon Go. Like Pokémon Go, when you encounter a Pokémon you are given a screen with the Pokémon and are given the option to feed it a berry to make it easier to catch or throw a Poké Ball to attempt to catch it. Then, you use whichever controller is connected to the game to toss the ball in time with a shrinking circle.
The smaller the circle is when you manage to hit it, the more likely the catch will succeed. But again, like Pokémon Go, it’s possible to miss with the ball or for the Pokémon to flee, hence the use of berries to make it easier to catch them. Some berries make it easier for the ball to succeed in catching, some berries make the Pokémon move around less so aiming is easier, and so on.
The Co-Op Mode
In this mode, you can be joined by another player via flicking the other Joy-Con down.
The other player will appear on-screen and can use one of your Pokémon to help you out. In battles, the double battle mode will occur. In catching wild Pokémon, your Poké Balls can combine and give you extra experience.
Note that since the other player is only assisting, they will not gain experience through the battles and will not get any Pokémon from the other player. Still, it’s a lot of fun.
Walking Your Pokémon
Wayyyy back in Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, you could walk with your Pokémon via the bundled Pokéwalker pedometer accessory. Fans have been asking for the return of that feature for years. And now, it’s back.
Conclusion: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!
A huge hit in our house, for both games. It definitely is easy to learn for a newbie, like me, and an absolute blast to play for veterans, like the twins, especially since it added in some pieces for nostalgia and upgraded elements that had problems in previous games.
Want to watch a sample? Check out this video from Nintendo: