Reviews

Pokémon Let’s GO! Pikachu and Eevee / Pokéball Plus review – An Evolution in Execute-ion

As my readers will know, my hype level for the ‘Pokémon’ franchise regularly reaches over 9000 (8000 if you’re all anal about it!). It was going to be a given that yours truly was going to love this ‘Evolution’ of the traditional Pokémon formula, right?

Well, not really. As my readers will know, Let’s Go! received so much bad press for incorporating ‘Pokémon GO!’  catching mechanics, requiring certain conditions to be met to enter Gyms and the always enabled Gyroscope when in handheld mode. These kinds of reports were quite worrying at the time, but like any other good games journalist I waited to make my own mind up.

Sit down for this one fan boys and girls, Pokémon Let’s GO! is the evolution of Pokémon we didn’t know we needed. I truly believe that all the bad press surrounding Let’s GO! Is over exaggerated click bait, let me tell you all why following this screen grab I found:

you-got-2-great-balls-pokemon-lets-go-is-getting-37827248

Balls To The Wall Mechanics

Regarding the Pokémon Go! catching mechanics, they work, they work brilliantly. In docked mode, players can use a joy con or the Pokéball accessory to catch Pokémon by performing a throwing motion with their controller of choice. The odd Pokéball flies away if the chosen controller isn’t sat correctly in a players hand, which surely makes sense?

What’s more? Pokémon now appear on-screen near grassy areas, caves etc thereby replacing random encounters. Again, this was a great move! Players who hate to grind on RPG’s probably never got into Pokémon because of the latter. What Let’s Go! gives players are smarter methods of grinding. Rather than waiting to see what the games code decides to throw at you, players can target more XP heavy Pokémon such as Chansey and ‘Huge’ Pokémon (Tiny ones have a blue aura, Huge have a red one).

Moving on to the next overly exaggerated claim, Gym competing requirements. This mechanic is in place to help out new players find their feet. Remember in the Red and Blue days when you were asking your friends for advice and buying gaming magazines with multipart walkthroughs? Yeah, so you had some help too. 

PokC_mon_Let_s_Go__Pikachu__and_Let_s_Go__Eevee__screenshot_9.0

Please, Tell Me How you Received Your Butt hurt?

Gym requirements make sure that Let’s GO! Isn’t setting anyone up to fail so that they can explore other parts of the game. And sorry, but if players don’t have a Pokémon at level 45 or higher when facing the Saffron city gym, you frankly don’t deserve the badge. Once again, this is another exaggerated factoid that doesn’t hinder the players experience with Gyms at all.

Pokémon earned it’s stripes in the hands of Game Boy and Nintendo DS enthusiasts. I was genuinely surprised to hear that the handheld experience in Let’s GO! Felt forced and wouldn’t be suited to certain dissabilities. Again, it’s a load of bollocks.

It’s correct that the Gyroscope doesn’t turn off, but it doesn’t stop players from using the left stick and face buttons to catch Pokémon the old fashioned way. The only time this is going to bug anti motion control gamers is if you decide to play Let’s Go! on a swing or in a f*****g tumble dryer.

great-ball-pokemon-lets-go-oninx

Now That’s Been Dealt With…

Ok, I’m glad we got those points ironed out. Pokémon Let’s GO! Is a love note to generation one fans worldwide whilst providing necessary accessibility and beautiful aesthetics to draw in a new crowd. Fans should be more worried about franchises that have no interest in securing their futures due to their egos.

The art direction follows suit from Pokémon Sun / Ultra Sun and Moon / Ultra Moon but with a much clearer fidelity and HD quality textures. The character models all look amazing and do not disappoint, and with the much requested addition of partner Pokémon, players can smugly ride their Charizards across Kanto until the end of time (Or their battery life).

pokemon-lets-go-rideable-pokemon-types

Another carry over from Pokémons Alolan outing is the axing of Hidden Machines. For the uninitiated, Hidden Machines taught Pokémon moves that could be performed outside of battle such as ‘Flash’ to light up a dark cave or ‘Cut’ to cut down a bush.

Instead, certain NPC’s now teach Pikachu or Eevee the move to ‘Fly’ or ‘Surf’. This is such a better mechanic, relieving trainers of their HM whore Pokémon at the back of their squad. Another brilliant move by Let’s GO! Is the ability to carry ones Pokémon box around with them, this allows for on the spot squad changes which makes levelling up and evolving a much more streamlined and fun process. Bill doesn’t even mention the Pokémon Centre computers anymore, perhaps he’s little embarrassed?

Accessible EV Training

Candies are also a borrowed feature from Pokemon GO!, but are implemented in an insanely brilliant way. Candies are earned by catching Pokémon for Professor Oak to study (In other words, transferring them to their doom). Candies serve as the new EV training mechanic, which was previously shrouded in mystery up until the 3DS line of Pokémon titles and left for the Smogon crowd to figure out. For example: if players wanted to train Gengars Special attack and speed stats for a good ‘stab’ addition to the squad, just give it the relevant candy to do so. It’s that simple. 

Pokemon-Lets-Go-8

Local wireless functions work smoothly and quickly when trading and battling, no more awkward pauses like the Game Boy and DS days here. Online play is again a relatively painless experience with trade and battle options, although a compulsory purchase of Nintendo Online is required these days. A big selling point for Pokemon Let’s GO! Is it’s CO OP play feature. Player two simply picks up a second joy con, gives it a wiggle and can help player one battle and catch Pokémon. Simples.

My one critique of Let’s GO! Is it’s menu system. Yes, it looks pretty and everything has it’s place, but in handheld mode the frame rate can drop significantly whilst navigating it. Fingers crossed that Game Freak can patch this, as it’s the only major flaw I could find.

OMG!? IS IT REALLY!? AGHHH!

Fan service is rife within Let’s GO!, mostly due to it being a do over of Pokémon yellow. This had lead many to believe that the Pokémon franchise inhabits a multiverse with various scenarios happening at the same time. For example: Players will play through he events of the original Pokémon yellow as expected, but will receive the occasional aid of Blue (Gary Oak for the Anime fans). This means that in this timeline, Red never took down Team Rocket, but are still present as famous and powerful trainers. Maybe this version of Red and Blue are the same who appear in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon? Who knows until the cannon fire sounds!

Although functionality wasn’t enabled at the time of review, Let’s GO! Is also compatible with Pokémon GO! Via the GO! Park. This area has unfortunately replaced the renowned Safari Zone, however this trade off allows players to transfer Kanto Pokémon and their Alolan forms from the mobile phenomenon to Let’s GO!. Whilst certain exceptions apply such as a one way transfer and the banning of legendaries, it’s still a fun way to fill up the Pokédex. Mini games within the GO! Park provide beneficial aids, but I’ll let you all discover that for yourselves.  

That New Retro Sound…

The soundtrack has been completely reworked for an up to date orchestral spin on the originals bit chip effort. It was to be the most faithful and respectable rehashes of a fan favourite OST, it’s just very well done. Other sound effects such as the healing sounds in Pokémon centres and Pokéballs bouncing on the floor all ring true to their legacy counterparts, but at the same time flaunt an up to date sheen that just screams nostalgia.

The Pokéball Plus is a brilliant controller and marketing move by Nintendo. Not only can players hook it up to Let’s GO! And Pokemon GO!, they can take a Pokémon out for a stroll in it when out and about. I have mostly used the Pokéball to spin Pokéstops and catch Pokémon in Pokémon GO!, which is a cool feature, but the Pokéball plus does have some compatibility issues with android devices which relegated me to taking my iPad out for a walk also.

If players just want to use it alongside Let’s GO! Then that is great too, although older players may find the Pokéball slightly too small for their hands. This can lead to awkward switches between the top and middle buttons, but it’s nothing a short adjustment period won’t fix. It’s got a great weight, and Hori do a great wireless charging dock for it. The adaptor that plus into the back of the Pokéball plus also makes it much easier to hold. Oh, did I mentioned buying the Pokéball Plus is the only way to receive Mew in-game?

switch_pokemonletsgo_screen_01_mew

Verdict:

Presentation: 9

Graphics: 10

Gameplay: 10

Sound: 10

Overall Score: 9.8 / 10

Pokéball Plus: 8 / 10

Pokémon Let’s Go! Is a classic of case of making your own mind up. Some readers may think I’m talking rubbish giving the title a near perfect score. All fan bases are guilty of ridiculing change, hell even I’m guilty of it at times. But Let’s GO! Is the new standard of Pokémon games, the last generation was a fatigued set of games with an odd direction. For better or for worse, Game Freak needed to changed the formula they have religiously followed for the past 30 years. If anything, I’m worried that Game Freak will go back to the original format for the ‘mainline’ Pokémon title next year. 

Make no mistake readers, this is a mainline Pokémon title, just like Omega Ruby / Alpha Sapphire and HeartGold / SoulSilver. If there was once message I would want to deliver with this review, it would be to try it for ourself and make your own mind up. Plus it’s awesome and everyone else is wrong #soznotsoz

Formats: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)

Developer: Game Freak

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: £49.99 (Pokéball Plus £44.99) Nintendo Store

Release Date: 16/11/2018

Pegi Rating: 7+

Personal Copy Used to Review Purposes.

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