I was 8 years old when Pokémon Red and Blue Versions were released in the West and from the moment I got my hands on the Blue Version I was hooked. In the years that have come I have played nearly every Pokémon game since. Only missing the most recent games. I am without a doubt a massive Pokémon fan and will be for a long time to come.
With that being said I could not wait to re-enter the Kanto region of Pokémon's first generation which has been lovingly and painstakingly recreated for the Nintendo Switch. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Let's Go, Pikachu! are by no means perfect games but they are the games they needed to be. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! are not only loveletters to the long time fans they are also a fantastic gateway game for new players and players who are potentially coming in from Pokémon Go.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! are not one for one remakes of Yellow, the third game from generation one in the West, there are new story beats and completely different ways to play. The world of Pokémon awaits.
It's another beautiful day in Pallet Town and you, our hero, are getting ready to begin your very own Pokémon journey. After receiving your starter Pokémon, either Pikachu or Eevee, from Professor Oak and doing some light errands you are given the Pokédex, a digital Poké-encyclopedia and can begin to travel across the land, searching far and wide for Pokémon to catch and trainers to battle.
Traveling across Kanto you will thwart the nefarious but bumbling Team Rocket, claim gym badges from the eight gym leaders and save a little Cubone from a life of misery, before battling the Elite Four and claiming the title of Pokémon League Champion. All of this while trying to fill the Pokédex for Professor Oak.
If you have played a Pokémon game before you know what to expect story-wise. Though if you haven't played a Pokémon since Red, Blue or Yellow Version you will be happy to see some changes and improvements to the story.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! are still, at their heart, Pokémon games and the gameplay in broad terms hasn't changed all that much in the years that Pokémon games have been around. What has changed is the way these gameplay systems have been implemented.
One of the biggest and most divisive changes to Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! is that now instead of battling wild pokémon to catch them you now just throw pokéballs and berries a'la Pokémon Go. For some people this was the reason they gave for not even picking up Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! or Pikachu! but for me, I find it a much quicker and just as enjoyable way to play.
Another massive change is that wild pokémon now show in the game's world in a similar way to Pokémon Go, meaning random encounters have also been scrapped, and you as a player now have more control over what you catch and when. This change comes in extra handy when you realise that catching multiple of the same species of pokémon leads to higher stats for the monster, higher chance at a shiny variant spawning and most importantly higher experience gains per catch.
There are two main ways to play Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu!, as with all other Switch games you can play docked in TV mode or play in Handheld mode. In TV mode you will be using a single JoyCon or the optional accessory; the Pokéball Plus to control everything from movement with the stick to catching with motion controls. In TV mode the game plays like old school Pokémon mixed with Pokémon Go on a bigger screen. Taking the game into handheld mode is where things change.
Gone are the motion controls for catching. Those are replaced with using gyro controls to target the pokémon and pressing the A button to throw a pokéball. This has proven to be a more successful method of catching, at least for me, as on more than one occasion I have had the motion controls either not pick up my movements or read them in the wrong way. Causing balls to fly straight over the pokémon's head or land just short of it's feet.
People with limited mobility or other mobility impairing conditions may find playing in TV mode almost impossible and playing handheld difficult, unfortunately at this time motion and gyro controls are mandatory and cannot be disabled.
Graphics & Audio
Seeing Pokémon's Kanto Region the way I had always saw it in my head as a kid for the first time was nothing short of fantastic. The world is vibrant and colourful and full of life. Having the pokémon spawn in the overworld makes everything feel like a living, breathing world.
The different locations around Kanto all feel truly unique, more so than ever before. With some areas having complete redesigns. Such as the once boring Nugget Bridge now looking spectacular with gold blocks strewn through, glistening in the sun.
One area where the new graphics fall down is with the other trainers and NPCs in the overworld. These models are about as close to being in a T-pose as they can be, arms at their sides and basically statues with dialogue. Some trainers do spin on the spot in 45 degree increments but this does little to take away from the feeling that they are purely there for the player character to interact with. They don't feel like they have their own stories to tell or lives to live. To put it bluntly, they are bland and limited. After a couple of hours you will have seen at least 80% of the different character models. While these models look great they don't feel great to look at.
The new audio for Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! for the most part is again, fantastic. The updated Lavender Town theme being a particular favourite of mine. All the music tracks are fantastic, the battle theme gets you pumped and the different route music tracks are calming and after a while fade into the background and almost becomes a traveling buddy to keep you trucking along.
As with the graphics there is one main point where the audio falters and that is with the pokémon cries. With both Pikachu and Eevee having new and updated sound files associated with the noises they make it would have made a lot of sense to do the same for the other monster shaped residents of Kanto. As well as there Alolan cousins who are also present after their trainers made the journey from Sun and Moon's Alola region.
Hearing Eevee exclaim his excitement then hearing another pokémon make noises like it was trying to connect to the internet in the early '90s is quite jarring.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and Pikachu! make massive leaps forward for the Pokémon series as a whole, undoubtedly bringing in swathes of new players from Go to their first real Pokémon RPG experience. Yes, this is a real Pokémon game. The new catching mechanics are well implemented and in no way detract from the strategy element of battles. They make leveling up your digital monster friends fun in a different way than the random wild battles did, but fun none the less.
The trainer battles in the world, gyms and Pokémon League are still strategic affairs especially when you reach higher levels. Knowing the type advantages really helps as well as staying stocked up on battle items on longer stretches of road.
If you want an easy time you can call in a support trainer by waggling the other JoyCon, giving you a two on one advantage in any battle. This is another way of showing more people what a Pokémon RPG is like. I played a couple of Kanto's routes with my niece as my support trainer to show her the ropes and she never felt left out and it only got her more excited to play.
But if none of this sounds good to you, there is always a silver lining. There is a new Pokémon game coming to the Switch in 2019, marking the first time a new generation has been anywhere other than handhelds. It's a great time to be a Pokémon fan.
|+ Strong gameplay||– Outdated audio for most pokémon|
|+ Fantastic sound||– Trainers and NPCs feel static|
|+ Gorgeous graphics||– Only one region to explore|
|+ A fresh take on a classic|