*DISCLAIMER: THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS WITHIN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN. I PURCHASED THIS GAME FOR MY OWN USE. THIS REVIEW IS PURELY FOR THE SINGLE PLAYER CONTENT. THIS REVIEW COMES FROM A VETERAN AND LONG TIME FAN OF THE POKEMON SERIES.*
Pokemon: Let’s Go lets you, "Become the best Pokémon Trainer as you battle other Trainers, Gym Leaders, and the sinister Team Rocket. Explore the vibrant region of Kanto—home to beloved characters like Brock, Misty, and the nefarious trio Jessie, James, and Meowth! Throughout the story, your bond with your partner Pokémon grows stronger as you care for it and travel together." - eShop Page
Game Freak began to tell a story in 1996. The first installment of the Pokémon series, Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Green Version, allowed the children of Japan to live the dream Satoshi Tajiri had created for them, to earn the title of Pokémon Master. After the success of these first two games, Game Freak spread their series across the world throughout the end of the 90’s, bringing forth four titles in the franchise’s First Generation. Now, over twenty years later, we have over 30 main series entries to choose from, spanning six generations of handheld consoles and soon eight generations of Pokémon.
The series became a part of my life sometime around 1999 or 2000 (long discussions have happened with my parents and no one can decide when I fell down the rabbit hole.) I avidly consumed the anime series that accompanied the games and collected the trading cards with an almost unhealthy obsession. The only part of the franchise I was missing was the video games themselves.
Now my family didn’t have a lot of extras when we were growing up. We always had our necessities and we had fun with what we could, but a Gameboy Color and video games to go with it were out of our budget. I was a smart kid and accepted this, so I would play a friend’s copy whenever I could. When we visited them, I would be free to play their copy of Pokémon Blue Version until it was time to head home, but I always had to start from the beginning and I could only play for so long. I pretended it was enough, but I know now that my sad little child eyes were hard for my Mom and my friend’s Mom to see.
My friend’s father also played the games with them (he had the coveted Yellow Version), so the father and son had bought a third copy of Pokémon (Red Version this time) and a Kiwi Green Gameboy Color for the mother that previous Christmas. One day as we tried to head home, my friend’s mother asked us to wait by the door. My mother and I were confused, but we obliged, and she quickly ran to the back of the house, returning with the Gameboy and Pokémon Red cradled in the hands, trying to hide the secret. She thrust them to me, explaining, “They wanted me to join them, but I’ve never even put batteries in it.” She smiled wide as I realised what she was offering. “Take it and run!” I don’t have to tell you how much that meant to me then or now. I haven’t forgotten Gene or her gift, and I never will.
As a young child of Pallet Town, in the region of Kanto, it is your job to become the best Pokémon Trainer out there, heck maybe even a Pokémon Master! Like any 10-year-old kid knows, you’re ready to leave home and explore the wide world with no adult supervision! Don’t worry though because Professor Oak, your trusty Pokémon Professor and local delinquent child enabler, will give you a fresh Partner Pokémon to take with you! He’ll make sure to let you know that he depends on you for free labour in finishing his life’s work: the almighty Pokédex (It’s a high-tech encyclopedia!) and it’s complete collection of Pokémon data entries. No worries, you won’t be alone, since the Professor’s idiot of a grandson will be exploring Kanto at the same time! Of course, you’ll be able to combine your work and accomplish everything that much faster! Wait, that’s not how it works? You have to complete the entire Pokédex on your own? Well, that just seems counterproductive, Gramps.
Once you’ve begun your journey, you’d better figure out how to survive on your own! Your Pokémon are going to need to be healed after all the cockfighting, I mean ‘battling’, that you’ll be putting them through, so make sure to check out PokéMarts and PokéCenters in each town you explore. Don’t worry about money though; Pokémon have universal free healthcare and cockfighting is a lucrative business, so you’ll never be short on money for items! Make sure to stock up on the essential capture devices for these cute little monsters, called Pokéballs, so you never have to worry about missing out on imprisoning your favourite Pokémon!
After preparing yourself for the work ahead, you’ll need to begin making your way through the region by earning Gym Badges in various cities. Pokémon Gyms are places where Pokémon Trainers can fight (don’t worry, your cute monsters do the dirty work for you!) against the strongest Trainers in the area. You’ll cream them easily because for some reason the best of the best are super weak and never keep a full roster of Pokémon (seems like a faulty strategy but to each their own!).
Somewhere near the middle of your journey, an evil crime syndicate named Team Rocket will make it known that they plan to steal Pokémon for profitable gain. They’re evil and you’re not (somehow forced battles with other animals doesn’t make you evil, just go with it), so prepare for trouble and make it double, because a 10-year-old is totally capable of taking down mob bosses and their enforcers. Make sure to keep tissues handy though, because no children’s media is complete without a matricide worthy of a Disney film. You’re lucky, too! In 1996, Trainers had to imagine how heartbreaking Cubone’s story was, but now you get it in a fully animated cutscene! Oh, (Nurse) Joy!
Once the crime boss escapes (because no one ever thinks to call Officer Jenny when taking down a crime syndicate), get back to finishing the Professor’s research and take on Pokémon League. They’re actually the best of the best this time, so make sure to pack enough drugs (for the Pokémon, not for you) and bring your A game. If you manage to take them all out, the Professor will congratulate you and crown you the Champion of the Kanto region! (Don’t worry about having nothing to do afterwards though, because no one will remember that you’re the Champion as soon as you head home! Total replay value!)
All jokes aside, I love Pokémon. The series has been a huge part of my life since I was given a Kiwi Green Gameboy Color and Pokémon Red Version as a child. As far as Pokémon games go, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! (Henceforth to be called: Pokémon LGPE for simplicity) are pretty standard Pokémon games. The story is basically the same story we were given in 1998 (1999/2000 outside of Japan) with Pokémon Yellow Version: Special Pikachu Edition (Henceforth: Pokémon Yellow). Pokémon LGPE and Pokémon Yellow are almost identical, down to exactly the same NPC dialogue lines (shorts are still comfy and easy to wear, btw!) in exactly the same locations. Pokémon LGPE just adds a few nostalgia based characters and witty quips about advancing technology. As a fan for the last 20 years, I was completely satisfied by Pokémon LGPE’s story and expected nothing more or less from Game Freak.
The main change that Game Freak made to Pokémon LGPE was to spice up the gameplay mechanics. Game Freak made the decision to incorporate some of the mechanics of the smash hit mobile title, Pokémon GO, leading long time fans to be fearful of the series’ future. Many fans, myself included, worried that Game Freak had abandoned veteran players in order to cater to novice audiences. But I found myself pleasantly surprised when I gave the new titles a chance.
The main adjustment came in the form of the removal of some more competitive aspects of battle mechanics. Held items and Pokémon abilities have been completely removed, and while I originally worried that these reductions in complexity would hinder the experience, I found that I missed neither of them enough to complain (though I won’t lie and say that I didn’t wish for an Everstone every once in a while). I have never considered myself a casual player of Pokémon, having purchased and played every Generation from First to Seventh, but I realised with Pokémon LGPE that I was not a competitive player either. Many of the fans that did not anticipate the changes were those whom use strategy to compete against others. The removal of Held Items and abilities completely changes and possibly even breaks the competitive aspect of the series, which can be one of the few ways to extend the playtime of any Pokémon game. For those like me who won’t miss the removed mechanics, the changes are easily embraced or ignored. For competitive players, however, these games may not be the next titles that you should pick up.
The second major change came in the form of motion controls. The Pokéball Plus is a wonderful little addition to the series, serving as an immersive controller that allows you to truly experience the feeling of throwing a Pokéball for the first time. Pokémon LGPE removed the traditional battle mechanics completely from the wild encounters, replacing them with Pokémon GO style mechanics. Say what you will about motion controls, because everyone feels differently, but I was the 26-year-old little kid freaking out with glee when they announced a controller shaped like a Pokéball. Valid arguments exist against the use of motion controls however. Pokémon LGPE does not give the player the ability to switch between traditional controls and motion controls. For some players, including those who prefer docked mode (which does not support the use of a Pro Controller) and players with disabilities or inabilities to use motion controls, Pokémon LGPE are completely inaccessible and I believe that this fact is completely inexcusable. Players, whether due to preference or necessity, must be given control options when motion controls are incorporated into any game.
The third gameplay change was an additional feature that I have heard no one complain about yet (hit me with the hate mail, naysayers). Finally, for the first time in over 20 years, Pokémon roam free in the overworld! Long time fans, rejoice! This is my 100% favourite addition to the games, not only because it looks so darn cool, but it also increased my playtime immensely. This was in no small part due to the inclusion of the Shiny Hunting mechanics being worked into the overworld sprites. This change was so much more than a quality of life adjustment for me; it revitalised a region that had grown stale in recent years.
I can say with certainty that Pokémon LGPE are some of the most beautiful Pokémon games I have ever experienced. The cutscenes are minimal and beautifully animated, even when they cut your heart out with a spoon (Cubone, why?!). The overworld is just the right amount of pretty, mixed with childlike wonder and fun. The Pokémon sprites are gorgeous and I need them in every game now. I can’t go back to random encounters (I’m looking at you, Pokémon Sword and Shield!) now that I have experienced the way we always imagined Kanto.
In the critiques department, there are few and far between mistakes and errors that I experienced in the games. Tiny translation errors that can easily be patched out in a future update can be found sparingly. Framerate drops are quite significant in Viridian Forest under certain conditions (high spawn rates heavily affect frames), and while I never quit playing due to this issue, some might have. It’s really dependant on the player again here.
Difficulty & Music/Sound:
I wanted to group these categories together because they are honestly the weakest sections of my review. Not because the difficulty and sound of the games themselves are bad or weak, but because there is nothing really to say here. Pokémon LGPE are definitely easy games. This is not really something that can be discussed or debated, as the target audience is around elementary to middle school age. But this has been a factor in the series since its inception. The sound is also basically the same as in previous titles, while wonderful and beautiful and everything that is quintessentially Pokémon, the sounds and musical scores in Pokémon LGPE are remasters of 20 year old songs. Nothing truly innovated was done, but that also allowed them to not make any unfortunate mistakes here either.
Blunt and honest thoughts? Pokémon LGPE may not be the game for every Pokémon fan. That’s just a fact, but it’s also not a failing of the game or the fan. Not every game in a series is intended for the same audience. Pokémon LGPE is objectively a simpler encounter with the mainline Pokémon franchise, however this does not equate to an inferior experience. While mandatory motion controls should be readdressed, the other changes detailed above are subjectively either game changers or game breakers. Every Pokémon fan is free to decide where they fall, and they should feel comfortable stepping away from the franchise if these titles seem too different for them. Even in a franchise one loves passionately, it’s not Farfetch’d to need a break every now and again.
|Price:||£49.99 | €59.99 | $59.99|
|Story Completion Time:||20 Hours|
|100% Completion Time:||Indefinable|
|Removal of mechanics, approachable by new players and those who wish to have a simpler encounter with Kanto||Loss of mechanics, veteran players may not enjoy the loss of more competitive mechanics|
|Nostalgia is completely sated with this “true to the original” experience||Story is the same as previous Kanto remakes in the series|
|Beautiful Atmosphere, Pokémon look wonderful in the overworld and NPCs are recognizable||Regions are limited to remastered Kanto routes and buildings, exactly as they were in the original 1996 release. Some areas lag when enough sprites are loaded|
|Well-integrated motion controls, adding to the immersion||Mandatory motion controls, no Pro Controller support|
|Arbitrary Final Score|
Review by Bonnie
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! are available now for Nintendo Switch for, £49.99/$59.99. The Pokeball Plus controller is also available now, for £39.99/$49.99. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.