Pokémon: Let’s Go! Pikachu! and Let’s Go! Eevee! Previewon July 31, 2018 by Reuben Mount
I’ve never had such a turnaround with a game before (for the positive anyway) as the one I have had with Pokémon: Let’s Go! Pikachu and Pokémon: Let’s Go! Eevee. I’ve gone from being entirely disinterested to wanting these games quite fiercely, and at the NintendoUKVS event last weekend, this change of perspective was pretty much set in stone from the moment I held that Pokéball Plus.
I’ll reiterate this later, of course, but the Let’s Go! games are genuinely great. Starting, as I did with the Smash Bros Preview, with the aesthetics, these games look absolutely fantastic. I didn’t see the games running in handheld mode, as this was not allowed (and would have detrimented the use of the Pokéball Plus), but in TV mode the game’s visuals are absolutely stunning.
These games have opted for a visual style closer to that as seen in mainline titles from Pokémon X and Pokémon Y onwards, but have made all of the sprites look clearer and crisper. So, the end result is everything looking great on the big screen. Then there’s the Pokémon themselves, which have all been given a beautiful full-sized render (based on their appearances in Pokémon Go!) and all look just so adorable.
A visual touch that I really liked about it was the fact that the wild Pokémon in the grass can actually be seen as you’re walking around, and avoided should you want to. Not only this, but they will occasionally be glowing, which signifies that the creature in question is a different size than the standard; with blue glowing for smaller and red for bigger.
The games themselves are essentially a slightly modified retelling of the Generation 1 titles (Red, Blue and Yellow), complete with all the familiar faces and locations. The main fundamental changes can be found in the gameplay, of which those of you familiar with Pokémon Go! would find things incredibly familiar.
Battles are activated in the traditional way, which is to say casually strolling in front of the gaze of an NPC resolutely staring forwards. At which point, exactly what you expect from a Pokémon game will begin. You have the four moves for each Pokémon to choose from that gradually change with the benefit of levelling, and you and your opponent take turns in attacking until the HP of one of you reduces to zero.
Catching Pokémon follows the template of Pokémon Go! with the switch to first person perspective, then actually throwing Pokéballs at the creature in front of you, sometimes giving them food to make them easier to catch. This whole process is vastly improved by using the Pokéball Plus to play the game as you have to genuinely swing your arm to imitate throwing the iconic capture devices.
As a matter of fact, I genuinely cannot express adequately enough how tactile the new peripheral actually is when it comes to playing the game. It only technically has two buttons; one on the top of the ball that acts as a ‘Back’ button in menus and opens the menu during play, the one in the middle is your analog stick for movement, and pressing said stick in is the ‘Confirm’ button.
The idea of using what is essentially a ball is kind of odd, but believe me when I say that this initial apprehension subsides really quickly as you realise that honestly, this is absolutely the best way to play this game. The simplified capturing mechanics, paired with the already simple exploration and battle system that the mainline Pokémon games, are perfectly suited to simplified controls too.
Additionally, the way that EXP works in the game follows the principle of the later games too, with experience being gained for catching Pokémon as well as just defeating them. As this is one of the best changes to the Pokémon formula in recent iterations, I’m kind of ecstatic that it returns here, although I can’t really see a way that the game could work without it.
The Pokéball Plus itself feels substantial to hold, despite its diminutive size, and comfortably weighty. The HD Rumble inside it is incredibly responsive and adds a lot to the overall experience of using it as a controller. Furthermore, there is a little speaker in the peripheral that will play the cry of any Pokémon you catch upon a successful capture, which is wonderfully twee and I love it.
So, Let’s Go! Pikachu! and Let’s Go! Eevee! have become pretty much essential purchases for me at this point, and most importantly the edition with the Pokéball Plus, as that truly feels like the right way to play this game. The fact that the little ball comes with a little Mew already inside it is just a bonus at this point. The only problem I see at this point is that it’s a long ol’ wait until November and me being able to get my hands on it.
Let’s Go! Pikachu! and Let’s Go! Eevee! are released for Nintendo Switch on November 16th 2018.