Pokémon Let’s Go provides a great experience
Photo By: Francesco Corso
Francesco Corso, Staff Writer
Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are a simple, yet very charming experience. The game recaptures much of the magic of the original games with a number of much needed improvements upon those games. For those who’ve never played a Pokémon game, the core gameplay involves traveling around the world going from town to town capturing Pokémon and battling your Pokémon against other people’s Pokémon. By capturing these Pokémon and defeating trainers the player’s Pokémon gain experience which in turn are used to level up a Pokémon making it stronger and causing it to learn new move to use in battle. Pokémon can also evolve into stronger ones by leveling up as well and can also evolve by being exposed to certain stones or being traded to another player’s game. Combat in these games is much more simplified than in previous games. The basic structure of turn-based battles where trainers use one Pokémon at a time out of a team of six and utilizing the various type advantages of moves and Pokémon to reduce the health of an opponent’s Pokémon to 0 first. Held items and abilities, two major staples introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver and Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire respectively are noticeably absent, making for changes in strategies to account for their absence. This, while a nice callback to the original games, works to hurt a number of Pokémon who rely on a specific held item or ability to make them good. In addition, certain moves are unobtainable in these games at all, which is very detrimental to certain Pokémon who use those moves as part of their core move set. However, despite the changes and simplifications, the game is not as easy as some were anticipating. While the games are certainly not hard by any stretch of the imagination, it does take some forethought and planning at some points in the game.
While the player does have many options to build their team, the game still has a very low number of Pokémon, as it only features the original 151 Pokémon from the original games and the newcomers to the franchise Meltan and Melmetal, who are currently only obtainable by connecting Pokémon GO to Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Let’s Go Eevee. While 153 collectible monsters would normally be a lot in any other game, but with a franchise that is currently up to 809 unique species of Pokémon, to only include that few of them is very unfortunate to see. However, it does make the task of filling out the pages of the player’s Pokédex a lot more manageable this time around. The restricted number of Pokémon does have another issue in that it means that a couple of the franchise’s 18 Pokémon types have very few Pokémon, namely the Ghost and Dragon-types, which only had one line of Pokémon each that bore those types. In addition, the Steel, Dark and Fairy types introduced in later games, also have an issue, especially the Dark type as no Pokémon in the original 151 were retroactively changed to a Dark type, like with what was done with Steel and Fairy. This is somewhat alleviated by the inclusion of the Alolan forms of certain Pokémon that were introduced in Pokémon Sun and Moon, which provide the player with the only obtainable Dark-type Pokémon in the entire game. The lack of diversity is also felt, not only in the player’s team but in the teams used by enemy trainers as well with Ghost and Dragon-type specialists Agatha and Lance using teams where only half of their Pokémon are of the type of their specialty.
The game’s capture mechanics are largely similar to Pokémon GO where you simply throw Poké Balls until a Pokémon is captured as opposed to battling them with your own Pokémon and then throwing Poké Balls while the Pokémon is at low health. While this change may be off-putting to longtime fans, the mechanic is largely an enjoyable experience when playing the game, however it is not without its flaws. Whether or not a Pokémon is captured is determined seemingly at random with no real indication of whether or not the Poké Ball will work. Secondly, Pokémon can flee at any time, which can be infuriating when it happens with a rare Pokémon. Thirdly the amount of experience the player gains from these encounters can be too much in some instances, causing the player’s Pokémon to become too high leveled for the game to be a challenge to the player.
Despite those flaws, the game feature other refreshing changes to these games from previous titles include the removal of random encounters. While Pokémon still spawns in at random, Pokémon is visible on the field and the player can now pick and choose which Pokémon they want to encounter. This enables for the player to capture a number of Pokémon of the same species in succession, which can be used to cause rare Pokémon to spawn more often, which is very helpful for those who want to capture all the Pokémon or use a specific rare Pokémon.
Clearly, the best feature in this game is the addition of partner Pokémon. The Pikachu/Eevee the player starts with always accompanies the player and is very adorable alongside the player. This is made better by the fact that the player can dress them up and personalize them to an extent. In addition, the player can specify a Pokémon to accompany them on the field, which can have certain benefits, including the ability to ride larger Pokémon.
The Pokémon GO integration, while a very useful way for players who play that game a lot to obtain Pokémon that are exclusive to the other version of the Let’s Go games, there isn’t much real use for it outside of that, as the Pokémon obtained are not that particularly strong, especially given when the feature is unlocked to the player, over halfway through the game.
Overall, the games are a very unique direction that the franchise hasn’t quite done before. The game was a pleasantly surprising experience that can only really be described as fun. I would highly recommend this game to anyone.