After Pocket Monsters Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon’s release, many fans of Pokémon anticipated a core Pokémon game release on the Nintendo Switch. However, Game Freak surprised many fans with some becoming angry about the new direction with Pocket Monsters Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee.
While Game Freak reiterated that the core Pokémon game most are expecting is still being worked on, they insist that this game is a core Pokémon game. Pocket Monsters Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee is probably the most controversial core series Pokémon game release to date. Does it deserve the hate? Let’s find out.
The story follows the original Pokémon games, namely Pocket Monsters Yellow Version. You and your rival set out on an adventure to catch Pokémon, challenge gym leaders, thwart Team Rocket’s evil plan and become the Pokémon Champion. Like Pocket Monsters Yellow, you catch the partner Pokémon depending what version you play.
Compared to the original Pocket Monsters Yellow Version, Let’s Gois heavily inspired from it. First off, your starter Pokémon is your partner Pokémon, which is a Pikachu or an Eevee depending what version. While you cannot evolve your partner Pokémon, unlike the Yellow Version’s Pikachu, your partner Pokémon is stronger. You can also teach it special tutor moves that normal Pikachu or Eevee won’t normally learn. While Pikachu has the same voice as other Pokémon games, Eevee now has its own unique anime-like cry. Yuuki Aoi, who voices Kaname Madoka, Tachibana Hibiki, and Iris also is the voice of Eevee in this game.
Also, making a return from Pocket Monsters Heart Gold and Soul Silver is Pokémon walking behind you. By letting a Pokémon out, you can raise its happiness, find hidden items and in some cases, move faster or fly in the sky. The latte, which you unlock after becoming champion is important since you can encounter Pokémon in the sky.
Unlike Yellow Version where you can see how your Pikachu feels, you can do more with your partner Pokémon. You can play with your Pikachu or Eevee like you can with other Pokémon in previous games. You can also feed it berries. Also, you can dress up your partner Pokémon as well. Lastly replacing Hidden Machine moves, your partner Pokémon can learn special techniques to cut trees down, push boulders, fly to other cities, light up dark places, and travel on water.
Most of the controversy with Let’s Go comes from the simplified gameplay. While the battle mechanics follow the 6th generation of Pokémon games, there are notable changes. First is with the battle mechanics. Effort Values are now replaced with Awakening Values and Combat Points. The latter comes from Pokémon Go, which shows how strong the Pokémon is overall. Awakening Values influences the stats like Effort Values do, but you can raise each stat by 200. You can raise them through candies, which you receive from catching Pokémon or transferring them to the professor.
In addition, happiness now influences the stat boost as well with maximum happiness giving a 10% boost. On online battles, you can choose whether or not to apply stat boosts from Awakening Values and Happiness. Unlike the Nintendo 3DS, you need to subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online to play with your friends over the internet. Even then, the online functionality is very limited. You can only battle or trade with your friends locally or over the internet. In other words, there is no Global Trade System, Battle Spot, nor Wonder Trade in Let’s Go. This can become a letdown for some who are expecting the same level of online features.
Lastly, while things like Mega Evolutions exists, Pokémon do not have any abilities in Let’s Go. Moreover, Pokémon in this game only learn a limited move set. Believe it or not, the move set each Pokémon learn is not as vast compared to other core Pokémon games. This means that a Clefable for instance won’t be able to learn Moonlight, which allows it to regain HP. This leaves Rest the only move for recovery. This can become detrimental to some Pokémon as it limits the amount of strategies. However, this is not surprising since Game Freak intended to use Let’s Go as a gateway drug to other Pokémon games.
Another controversial change is the removal of random encounters. Like with the new Final Fantasy games and Pokémon Go, Pokémon show up on the overworld. When you encounter a Pokémon, you throw Pokéballs like in Pokémon Go. Instead of using the touch screen, you swing your Joycon or Pokéball Plus controller. A second player can join to assist you in catching a Pokémon. Like with Pokémon Go, you can use berries to make it easier to catch a Pokémon.
After capturing a Pokémon, besides receiving candy, your Pokémon will receive experience only. If you catch the same species of Pokémon in succession, you can make rare or shiny Pokémon appear more often. The chain mechanics also affects the Pokémon’s individual values as well. With some encounters such as the Snorlax and Legendary Pokémon, you have to battle it and defeat it before you can capture it.
While the removal of wild encounters can make it easy to become under leveled if you avoid every encounter and trainer battle, the difficulty depends on your play style. If you don’t catch every Pokémon and battle every trainer, it can become very difficult to defeat trainers and Gym Leaders. To prevent this, there are gym requirements that the player must meet before he or she can challenge the Gym Leader. If you do the opposite, you might find the game easy since you can get experience bonuses from good catches.
While catching Pokémon to gain experience can become tedious and require you to buy a lot of Pokéballs, trainers usually give them out for free after defeating them. In some areas, you can pick up free Pokéballs. When you beat the game, you can go to a place where Chansey appear frequently, which make it simple to level your Pokémon up to level 100 quickly.
Since Pokémon Go inspired Let’s Go, there is some Pokémon Go functionality. It’s possible to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon Go into Let’s Go. From there, you can play with them in the Pokémon Go Park or catch them. By transferring Pokémon from Pokémon Go, you can easily complete your Pokédex. In addition, you can use the Pokéball Plus controller with Pokémon Go. You can put a Pokémon in it on a stroll and help it gain experience.
After beating the game, you can challenge Gym Leaders to a rematch, battle Master Trainers, and finish the Pokedex. Unlike other games, there is no Battle Tower feature like in previous games. Compared to previous games, the post-game is barren, especially with the online features being limited. Sure, Pokémon games generally don’t have a good amount of post-game content, but in this game, the lack of a post-game is more apparent.
Aside from the gameplay, I have to admit the graphics are a big improvement over the Nintendo 3DS games. The characters feel more expressive compared to the stiff expressions from Pocket Monsters Sun and Moon. Also, the graphics and the scenery are gorgeous and colorful, which makes it pleasant to look at. In some ways, this is what Pocket Monsters Sun and Moon should have looked like if it was released on the Nintendo Switch instead of the Nintendo 3DS. Even so, Let’s Go give us a glimpse of how good the graphics will look in the next generation of Pokémon games that will most likely release the end of next year.
Overall, while the gameplay of Pocket Monsters Let’s Go is a very controversial one, it’s still very fun to play despite its flaws. This game brings a lot of nostalgia for someone who played every core game since the franchise’s inception. In short, Let’s Go is a more relaxed adventure where you don’t have to worry about defeating a bunch of Pidgeys to level up or max out effort values for a stat.
The Bottom Line
Strengths: Leveling up and training Pokémon is not as tedious compared to previous games. Visuals are a huge upgrade compared to the 3DS games. Lots and lots of nostalgia for older fans.
Weaknesses: The simplified gameplay and Pokémon Go-style Pokémon capturing can turn some people off. The online connectivity and post-game activities are lacking compared to other core Pokémon games.