Travel back to where it all began and revisit the Kanto region on the Nintendo Switch in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Let’s Go, Pikachu! Take in the sumptuous aesthetics and relive the nostalgia as you discover the sights, sounds and unique features inspired by the huge popularity of Niantic’s Pokémon GO. Based on the first generation Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition, Let’s Go is a deliciously indulgent, easy-to-play title that both delights and astounds in equal measure.
The year 2000 brings up some fond memories. It was the year of the Millennium Bug, where disk space was such an issue that computers couldn’t distinguish the difference between the years 1900 and 2000. It was a special time where both critics and the general public agreed that Wilson – the most wondrous, non-judging Volleyball of Robert Zemeckis’s Cast Away – should win the Critic’s Choice Award for ‘Best Inanimate Object’. And, above all, it was the year that the Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition was released in Europe (1999 in North America). I was 10 years old and Pikachu was quite literally my best friend, carrying him around as a Tamagotchi on my trouser belt, hidden surreptitiously underneath my bright red school jumper. For many, the first generation Pokémon games were a real eye-opener and it’s no surprise that, almost two decades later, the very first Pokémon trainers in the world are now teaming up with their own offspring to revisit the Kanto region in its beautiful HD form.
Inspired by the simplicity of Niantic’s AR mobile title, Pokémon GO, and developed by Game Freak, Let’s Go, Eevee! is a back to basics, near-carbon copy of Pokémon Yellow. The game follows the same storyline, with a few minor tweaks here and there, whilst distinguishing itself as a perfectly polished, visually stunning HD Kanto. Of course, two of the biggest changes to the RPG title is that Pokémon are no longer tied to random encounters in the wild and instead are now physically shown on screen, and can be captured in a similar fashion to Pokémon GO; without whittling down their HP. Due to the changes of wild Pokémon battles, Let’s Go removes the need to level grind by adding an automatic ‘Experience Share’ or ‘Experience All’ to all Pokémon in your party. And, unlike previous games, this cannot be turned off, making the Switch console versions remarkably easy. If you thought Sun and Moon and their iterations were trouble-free, Let’s Go is a complete doddle.
As a series first to the mainline games, co-operative play is now available. While it isn’t a true reflection of how two players should interact with each other, it does at least try to recreate a dual experience where it can. Shaking a compatible controller while the green buddy icon is on the screen will create a copy – albeit as the opposite gender – of your avatar, placing them beside you. Secondary players won’t be able to interact with items and they won’t have control of their own Pokémon team, rather they share the primary player’s team, thus initiating double battles. There’s a sticking issue here, however. Let’s Go cannot recognise when co-op mode is activated, effectively making trainer battles two against one. Wild Pokémon battles fare better, though, as each of you can time your Pokéball throws together to generate bonus experience points on capture. Let’s just say the latter is super effective.
Thankfully, Let’s Go features several ways to play. Explore in docked mode and pick up a single Joy-Con controller by holding it vertically, discover Kanto by using a Pokéball Plus, enjoy scenic views in Switch handheld mode, or prepare for your journey in free-stand mode with two controller’s in an on-the-go, co-operative mode. Pro Controllers are, unfortunately, not supported in Let’s Go, making handheld play the most comfortable (and iconic) way to play. Although the gyroscopic features are utilised in handheld mode for catching Pokémon, the multi-touch functionality is relegated to interacting with your Partner Pokémon in a simplified version of Pokémon Amie, meaning there’s no way to physically throw the ball with your finger; as is the case in Pokémon GO. Disappointing to say the least, especially when the functionality is readily available on the Switch.
For fans who have their beady eyes set on a Pokéball Plus and the legendary Mew, Let’s Go makes full use of the controller’s features. Use it in wild battles in the field and catch Pokémon by physically throwing the Pokéball Plus with the Pokémon GO capture mechanic, while experiencing the cool light and sound effects emitted from the device. You can even take any Pokémon in your Box out for a stroll, walking with it as a pedometer, or playing with your Pokémon by rolling it around on a flat surface. While fun to use, the device itself isn’t entirely practical for extended periods of play, mainly due to its rounded unnatural shape causing hand cramps. If you’ve been looking to audition as a Jim Carrey substitute for Liar Liar, your claw-like hand may just fit the bill. With a 3-5 hour battery life, the Pokéball Plus is an excellent accompaniment to your adventure and makes catching Pokémon a breeze.
For many Pokémon Veterans, the original Red, Blue and Yellow versions are their bread and butter. Full of interesting glitches and the game-breaking line of code MissingNo, the first generation titles introduced unforgettable moments, including witty ‘smell ya later’ jibes from Gary, Team Rocket on speed dial and some touch-and-go battles with the Elite Four. Featuring the familiar storyline of Yellow, Let’s Go strikes the right balance between new and old, upgrading some tired features (such as removing Bill’s PC from the Pokémon Center and placing it directly in your adventure bag) and re-establishing characters from the anime (Brock, Misty, Gary, Jessie, James and Meowth) with cameo appearances throughout the game. You can still buy a Magikarp for an ‘outrageous’ 500 Pokédollars, you’ll have access to Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander by capturing a specific number of Pokémon, and the secret house on Route 16 containing the TM (HM02) Fly remains. With the witty script and some classic references to the early years of Pokémon, Let’s Go captures every finite detail of those magical memories.
It’s no surprise that the most adorable moments in Let’s Go are shared with your Partner Pokémon. Between cutesy cutscenes that may make you cry with happiness (yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that!) to intimate moments and playful sequences between you both in the ‘Pokémon Amie’ section, there’s a special bond between you and your Partner Pokémon that only grows the longer you play the game. For instance, Eevee will often bring gifts to you or feel immensely proud and boastful over her recent win against a gym leader. In Pokémon Tower in Lavender Town, Eevee will shake with terror; something that also happened in Yellow with Pikachu. It’s the small nuances, the wonderful attention to detail that makes Let’s Go so beautifully enjoyable to play. You can even dress your partner up in different outfits, buy fancy bows and glasses at Celadon City, and teach them incredibly powerful and unique ‘marvellous’ moves from the Grand Master trainer in select Pokémon Centers.
Not only does your Partner Pokémon cheer you up after a long day at the office, they’ll also be able to support your team by boosting all their stats at select moments in battle and be able to learn secret techniques. In regards to the latter, these techniques replace Hidden Machines (HMs) in the previous games and enable Eevee or Pikachu to take flight in a balloon ride, skim over waves on a surf board, light up caves with an instant flash of brilliance, chop down trees blocking your path and push away large rocks. While the Pokémon games in recent years have moved away from the necessary ‘HM slave’ with Pokerides, secret techniques are a marvellous idea in this re-imagining.
After you defeat Team Rocket at the Game Corner and clear Pokémon Tower, you’ll be able to take on those two humongous Snorlax blocking your path to Fuschia City and the GO Park Complex. Known as the Let’s Go replacement for the Safari Zone, the GO Park Complex enables players to connect to their Pokémon GO accounts and send any caught Pokémon across in a one-way transfer. Each GO Park can hold up to 50 Pokémon and only the original 151 can be transferred. Interestingly, you can head to the Play Yard – a special minigame in Let’s Go – if you transfer 25 Pokémon of the same species (e.g. 25 Eevees). You can then catch any and every one you send across, allowing completion of the Pokédex. The removal of the Safari Zone is disappointing to say the least, particularly if you’re not a Pokémon GO player, and it’s enforced nature on players feels a bit archaic, given it’s now the only way to complete your Pokédex if you don’t own a Nintendo Switch Online membership, or friends available locally to trade with.
Moving swiftly onto the online features, Let’s Go retains mystery gift, link trades and battles between players. There’s no Global Trade Station or Global Link available, instead you’ll have to select a three-piece pin code to enter in order to match with another player. So, if you’re looking to play competitively in online battles, Let’s Go is not your friend. All in all, the online features are paltry in comparison to what we’ve grown to know and love in the main Pokémon titles.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! feels at home on the Switch. Its deliciously, vibrant textures and reimagined features brings a new lease of life to a game that is loved by many. While it has its faults, Let’s Go is pure, unadulterated fun, never taking itself too seriously. This is Pokémon for Generation X, Y and Z.
A review copy of Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee! for the Nintendo Switch and a Pokeball Plus was provided to My Nintendo News by Nintendo UK.