One of the things about being a smaller gaming site is we often don’t get early review copies of games. As such we get to experience the latest games along with the rest of the gaming world. The great thing about this is the opportunity to provide a voice to the hesitant adopter who might have read the early reviews from bigger sites. Maybe the reviewer has a completely different outlook on the game than you would. Maybe they echo your thoughts entirely. Either way the more information given to the audience is always a good thing!
I picked up my copy of Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee from one of our local shops yesterday like so many others. I was anxiously excited about the game as it is a drastic departure from the 20 years of Pokemon that came before it. Will I enjoy this new take on Pokemon? Will the new mechanics get annoying? Are motion controls going to be the bane of my existence? I wondered all these things as I pop in the game cartridge. As the game boots up I am greeted by an adorable Eevee inviting me on a journey into the world of Pokemon!
As the game begins I am treated to the traditional opening of a Pokemon game only this time it is an intro I first saw over 20 years ago. Professor Oak stands on the screen telling me about the joys and wonders of the adventure I am about to embark upon. Ok, I am so ready to dive into this adventure! Screw my concerns from only moments earlier about if I would be able to enjoy the game. The rush of nostalgia and excitement to relive an adventure from 20 years prior was overwhelming!
After going through the basic character creation of name, gender and rivals name I was dropped into the town of Pallet. As you’d expect, you encounter a wild Eevee on the first route while talking to Oak. After it’s caught, you meet with Eevee, Oak, and your rival in the lab where the Pokemon becomes yours. After setting out from the lab you head north to Viridian City and your Pokemon journey has officially begun! This is where you finally understand that this re-imagining of Pokemon Yellow truly differs from the original.
In the grass, plain to see, are Pokemon! Gone in this game are the constant random battles that came with every entry in the series prior. This huge change does so much to make the world feel like a living place. Numerous Pokemon of different variety roam the grass and it is up to your discretion if you want to pursue and capture them or avoid some to pursue a specific Pokemon. Of course I decide to go after the first Pokemon I see which in this case was a Pidgey.
Running into it triggers the familiar battle screen but wait! There is no battle screen! Oh right this game takes influence from Pokemon Go. Ok, so all I’ve got to do is throw a Pokeball at the Pidgey to capture it and if I want to have a better chance at success I land it when the capture circle is smallest. Pidgey dodges my first 2 Pokeballs, how dare it! My third Pokeball lands and I have captured my first new Pokemon! A new screen pops up detailing aspects about my catch and rewarding my Pokemon with experience. That’s right, catching Pokemon is the game’s primary method of leveling up your team in the absence of random encounters. Trainer battles are still a thing that grant experience, but you soon come to realize that catching Pokemon is the whole purpose of Pokemon Let’s Go.
Capturing and encountering the same type of Pokemon triggers a capture streak. As you get this number higher, rarer Pokemon begin to appear in the world around you like Bulbasaur in Viridian Forest! Higher capture chains also increase the chances of encountering a shiny Pokemon or one of higher stats. I was surprised that I was actually enjoying this more than the traditional weaken then capture method of past games… blasphemy, I know— oh well. As I am barely into the game I am interested in seeing if I will continue to feel this way.
I want to touch on one of my biggest concerns here when it came to Pokemon Let’s Go and that is controls. I was concerned that the motion controls would become a hindrance and I am happy to say that so far they have not. While playing handheld mode all catching is handled by a press of the A button leading to a fairly traditional Pokemon experience. You do need to line up your throws with some slight adjustment of the Switch console but nothing super obtrusive. While playing docked the control scheme changes to a single Joy-con or Pokeball Plus input method. In this mode all capturing is done by a flick of the wrist and response has been great so far. While I am disappointed Game Freak opted to not use the Switch Pro controller, the experience isn’t a negative.
The biggest thing I was looking forward to with the release of Pokemon Let’s Go was the inclusion of a same screen co-op mode. Using two Joy-cons allows a second player to be dropped into the adventure alongside you. This second player has limited interaction with the game world so they can not talk to NPC’s, pick up items, or trigger a Pokemon capture. This second player’s sole purpose is to participate in capturing Pokemon and helping in battles. Co-op captures can lead to increased experience gains and double battles are a fun touch. I love this mode as a way to introduce my 5 year old daughter to Pokemon. She gets to experience running around, capturing and battling without having to worry about how to drive the story forward!
So far I am greatly enjoying my time with Pokemon Let’s Go! While Pokemon Let’s Go may seem to be a dumbed-down Pokemon game, it really isn’t. Many will lament the changes to the capture system which is perfectly fine. Just know that many of the deep mechanics of stats, IV’s, EV’s and movesets are all still present and accounted for. The added co-op mode is also just a great way to introduce new player to the game. I will be putting out a full review once I feel I have seen enough of the game to properly judge it. Until then, for anyone on the fence, feel free to hop in. I think you will find the journey more enjoyable than expected!