Old Meets New in the Best of Ways
I knew that I wanted to demo Pokémon: Let’s Go as soon as I walked into E3. I was already hyped up enough for the game after watching the initial preview video last month, and I knew that there was absolutely no way that I could deny myself a chance to play the game after seeing the Let’s Go stand for myself. I was determined to play it. And, after what was at least a 3-hour wait in line (and this was before the general public was allowed in, mind you), I finally had the chance to experience Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! But was it worth the wait? Oh, yes. Absolutely.
A Trip Down Memory Lane
As I’m sure everyone already knows, Pokémon Let’s Go is an all-new, and rather gimmicky, re-imagining of Pokémon Yellow Version on the original Game Boy. The demo took place inside of Kanto’s iconic Veridian Forest (a location with all Pokémon trainers are surely familiar), where, upon beginning my turn, I was allowed to wander around to my heart’s content… at least, for the next 10 minutes. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for things to start jumping out at me – both literally and metaphorically. The first thing that grabbed my attention wasn’t actually the gameplay, but Let’s Go’s seeming faithfulness to the original Gen I games.
Although I can’t actually speak for the entire game, I at least tell you that the Veridian Forest is mostly (to be fair, I don’t have every last detail of the Veridian Forest memorized) if not exactly, how you remembered it in Red, Blue, and Yellow. From the actual layout of the forest, to the wild Pokémon inhabiting it, and even to the trainers themselves (both location and dialogue), I couldn’t help but find myself smiling as I realized that I was walking through something which was both novel and familiar. GameFreak’s ability to breathe new life into something as old as Pokémon Yellow without completely changing it is commendable, and even doing something as simple as walking around was fun.
Of course, as intrinsically nostalgic as Let’s Go is, it’s not entirely old hat. Let’s Go includes a number of unique mechanical features that helps it to stand out from its Game Boy counterpart, as well. I’ll be the first to admit that Game Freak’s choices were rather unique. After all, I’m sure that not many of us out there imagined that we’d be playing what essentially amounts to a Pokémon Yellow / Pokémon GO crossover. But, for those of you worried that it won’t pan out, I hope to put your fears to ease.
Just to make it clear, no, you don’t battle wild Pokémon. But before you start raising your pitchforks and torches, just hear me out. Although the capturing mechanics are, admittedly, less involved than your typical Pokémon game, they’re not by any means bad. To all of those out there who have played Pokémon GO to any extent, you’re already set. Based on everything that I’ve seen, the mechanics are almost exactly the same. The capture rings (including “Nice”, “Great”, and “Excellent throws), berries – the whole shebang – and things are also more user-friendly than ever. In fact, the only thing that seemed to be missing were curve ball throws. Then again, that might be kind of difficult seeing as how you’re using a physical peripheral to throw your Poké Ball instead of a touch screen.
Speaking of which, Let’s Go’s optional peripheral worked surprisingly well. Serving as a uniquely spherical one-handed controller, Let’s Go’s Poké Ball controller comes equipped with a c-stick and two buttons; one on the top of the Poké Ball, and one on the c-stick itself. Truthfully, it did feel a little odd to use at first – especially since the c-stick button is the controller’s A button – but it didn’t take long for it to become comfortable. On top of that, the feeling of throwing a Poké Ball to catch a wild Pokemon was really, really cool. If you think that you’ll be able to use it without awakening your inner child, you’re absolutely mistaken.
Pokémon are also more noticeable than ever in Let’s Go. While tall grass still exists (because what kind of Pokémon game would this be if it didn’t?), there are no more random encounters. Instead, wild Pokémon visibly roam within the tall grass (or “encounter zones”, if you will), with running into one immediately triggering an encounter. Your Pokémon pals also have much more screen time than in games past, with both the player’s Eevee (and assumedly Pikachu as well) riding on their head, and an additional partner Pokémon following them around. Sadly, all of the usable Pokémon were small, consisting of Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Charmander, Meowth, and the like, so I wasn’t able to see large Pokémon like Onix in action, but if the preview videos have shown us anything, it’s probably going to be pretty cool.
The only thing that concerns me with Let’s Go is the difficulty when it comes to trainer battles (which do exist!). Mainly the fact that they were very, very easy. Now, I’m aware that Pokémon Yellow wasn’t particularly intimidating in terms of difficulty, but Let’s Go seems like it’s going to pose even less of a challenge. I get that everything in the Veridian Forest is weak, but it’s still concerning that I OHKO’d all but two Pokémon that I battled. Still, seeing as how this is a spinoff and all. I’m not going to dig into it too much. And hey, there’s also the chance that it will get more challenging down the road.
Let’s Get up and Go!
My time with Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee may have been short, but it certainly left a positive and lasting impression me. From its vibrant and whimsical re-imagining of the original Pokémon Yellow, to the way that it brings the world of Pokémon, and the Pokémon inhabiting it, to new, interactive heights, this game is set up to be irresistibly charming. Pokémon Let’s Go may still be a while off, but you can, now more than ever, count me among those eagerly awaiting the game’s release.