Reinventing a popular franchise twenty years after launch is a bold task, but Game Freak have nailed it with Pokemon Let’s Go.
Things to Know
- Pokemon Let’s Go is a reimagining of Pokemon Yellow which debuted on the Gameboy in 1998
- Catching system works a treat whether you use the ball, Joycon or play it in handheld, however a lack of Pro Controller or Touch Screen Support is disappointing.
- Partner Pokemon ends up being really overpowered compared to everyone else so difficulty can feel imbalanced
- Frame rate can be a bit shaky at times
- It’s so, so addictive and beautiful
8.5 out of 10
I Choose You
For starters, the world has never looked so beautiful. Whether you’re docking it onto your TV or gazing at it in handheld, Kanto – and Let’s Go on the whole – just melts the eyeballs. While the greenery dazzles, gloomy caves have never been more suitably drab and eerie.
The aesthetic of Kanto is one you’ll know and remember like the back of your hand but done in a way that you’ll want to spend time exploring and relishing all over again. The region is more alive than ever with wild Pokemon of all shapes and sizes wandering around, just waiting to be collected. Though with so many things on the screen at once, the game does chug with frame rate issues from time to time. It’s a busy game.
Game Freak really has rebuilt this classic for a new generation but still been incredibly faithful to its roots. Too faithful in some cases, like certain lines of dialogue not being catered towards female trainers – Yellow originally had male trainers only. But more often than not, the game’s dedication to its heritage is commendable and welcome.
Eeve-lution is a mystery
But it’s not just more of the same, Game Freak has also iterated to make Let’s Go feel like a game that belongs in 2018. The trailers have already shown you that partner Pokemon – Eevee and Pikachu – will sit on your head and shoulder respectively, but you can also get other Pokemon to follow you around. You can even ride on some of them.
Dragonite will take you high up into the skies so you can hover around and shiny check without random encounters, looking for the Pokemon you want to catch. But you can also cling to Snorlax’s stomach or hop on the back of a Persian to prowl around town. Considering the 151 Pokemon you can add to your dex, the detail and uniqueness of each animation is quite startling and striking.
All Pokemon models breathe, glow and glisten in a way they never have before. Yes, Mr Mime looks creepier than usual with his overly long legs and hulking walk, but you’ll fall in love with Squirtle harder than you ever have before. And that’s before you’ve even petted your partner Pokemon and given them a new haircut.
Game Freak’s reliance on aesthetic changes really builds into the idea of Let’s Go catering to the Pokemon Go crowd. GF understand people’s drive to complete their dex and get shinies and have played to that contingent of gamer while making the control scheme as accessible as possible.
Gotta Catch at least one of ’em
The Pokeball Plus is, of course, the preferred way to play as we mentioned in our preview, though the fabled curve balls are sadly non-existent. This is a shame when it comes to technique possibilities, though perhaps something to work on for future Pokemon games.
Still, after spending hours upon hours holding the ball in our hands while playing, we can attest that it remains comfortable and controls the experience fluidly throughout.
The JoyCon does work nicely enough, though. I did find the gyro’s accuracy to be hit and miss at times, often aiming at the wrong part of the screen and controlling the game with one JoyCon can lead to some hand cramping. But it’s further proof that they work just as well as the Wiimotes ever did, better in some cases.
Where Let’s Go really surprises is in handheld mode. A tap of a button to get your ball or item ready and then another to throw it, timining that throw with the moving circle, is a surprisingly enjoyable and convenient way to play. I must admit, though, the lack of any sort of touchscreen support is hugely surprising.
Considering the intention of attracting a Go audience to Let’s Go, not allowing the player to flick balls using their finger is a confusing omission. I have to assume that’s down to spin balls not being fully programmed into the game, and GF don’t want the player to feel any restrictions when compared to the mobile game.
Should Pokemon Go players get this?
The connectivity with Go is cool, though. You can empty your bag space out in Go Park and catch those elusive mons in Let’s Go. It’s a lovely system which works seamlessly and is a great way to create an ongoing relationship between the two games.
Although, I was also amazed at how far you have to go into Let’s Go to access the all-important Go park. It’s not a feature which is immediately available to you, so that’s something to bear in mind.
The option for two player is also a really welcome one, allowing you to take on some of the tougher Pokemon together in case they’re being particularly elusive or resistant. The drop in, drop out nature is a stroke of genius and it allows for casual interaction while actually opening up the game to anyone and everyone. Definitely a feature all developers on Switch can learn from.
Pokemon Let’s Go is a game anyone can play and is, without question, one of Switch’s most addictive and essential releases. There are limitations around the length of the game and the speed you can get through it – particularly as your partner Pokemon is easily boosted and very overpowered compared to everything else in the game.
Pokemon Let’s Go – The Verdict
This is a must-have game for trainers – old and new, but also a perfect entry point for Nintendo Switch. It’s for both those who want to relive their childhood in a way they’ve never seen it before, but also for those who’ve been bitten by the Pokemon bug these last two years and want to see what the fuss is about.
The technical things are still there. You can still have duels, use TMs to change movesets, and will need to consider fighting strategies – which Pokemon works best in what battle. But there’s never been a better, clearer entry point for the series.
Pokemon Let’s Go is enchanting, refreshing and delightful. It’s become my ‘go-to’ game to relax, unwind, and chill with its infectious humor and everlasting charm and I already know I’m aiming to get every shiny, whether that takes me 6 months or 6 years. A few design choices and slight concerns aside, this is one of the easiest recommendations I’ve made this year.
Code kindly provided by the publisher