Review: Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Let’s Go, Eevee! (Switch)

My First Pokémon

Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokemon Company
Genre: RPG
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB: E for Everyone
Price: $59.99

Written in collaboration by John Campbell and Damien Chambers.

Released in November 2018, Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go, Eevee were a hit among plenty of buyers, selling over 3 million games worldwide within the first three days. So far, these two remakes of Pokémon classics are selling eight percent better than Pokémon X and Y did, the Pikachu version selling 45% more units than its companion, Eevee. So far, the game has been getting critique on its ease of difficulty, but praise for its ability to successfully recreate the original Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow editions, making it accessible to all players, both young and old. So far, the games are more popular with younger consumer groups. While this version was just released, Nintendo has announced an eighth generation Pokémon game on the Switch to be released in 2019.

In the new Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee, you’re able to dress both Pikachu and Eevee up in outfits.

Content Guide

Violence: Pokémon games have always been about capturing Pokémon and pitting them against one another in battle to see which is stronger. Attacks and movements are animated and in 3D like in the most recent Pokémon games, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. The attacks are not too graphic, as movements like “bite” will display a set of teeth chomping down on the opponent’s Pokémon, but no visible damage or bodily injury is shown.

An example of a Pokémon battle. (Yes, I won. Know your type weaknesses).

Sexual Content: A few female and male characters, such as swimmers, are half-dressed. No nudity is shown and any skin that is shown is rather mild.

An example of the amount of skin exposed in game.

Spiritual Content: The city of Lavender Town has a Pokémon Tower that is used as a burial site for Pokémon that have passed away. Within the tower, ghost Pokémon dwell and can be captured. There are trainers within the tower that are possessed by these ghost Pokémon and will forcibly challenge you to Pokémon battles. As in the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow games, the ghost of Marowak haunts the hallways and prevents the player from entering the upper floors until they find the Silph Scope that exposes ghost Pokémon.

There are also psychic Pokémon and psychic trainers who are able to control things with their minds.

The Pokémon Tower

Review

Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee are both direct remakes of the original Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow versions. The base storyline is the same: you play as a new trainer from Pallet town that sets out on an adventure through the Kanto region to become the Pokémon League champion, catching Pokémon and taking down Team Rocket along the way. The trainer will visit familiar people and sites including the mysterious Seafoam Islands, the wondrous S.S. Anne and the sinister Game Corner. All the original gym leaders are here, including the rock solid trainer Brock, the psychic trainer Sabrina, and the shadowy leader of Vermilion City gym.

Gyms are now fully 3D and the models are so creative! Here’s a snap of Sabrina’s gym.

Classic Pokémon gameplay is back at its finest as you will need to defeat all eight gym leaders to be able to face the Elite Four in the Pokémon League. Catching and raising Pokémon is a must as you will need different types if you want to beat all leaders. The original types are back including Fire, Bug, Water, Grass, Psychic, Rock, Ground, Ghost, Poison, Normal, Flying, and Fighting types are all present with a few new ones from later Pokémon versions, such as Fairy and Dark types. Knowing the type weaknesses and strengths will be imperative when battling trainers of all varieties.

Jesse and James are back to be annoying.

Catching Pokémon and raising them is different this time around, as Exp All, which gives all Pokémon in your party experience points after a successful catch or a battle, is available right away. The mechanic for catching Pokémon in Pokémon Go has been adapted here, as weakening Pokémon with battle is no longer necessary. Catching Pokémon is now as easy as aiming and pushing a button to toss a Poke ball at your target. Different berries and goods can be given to the wild Pokémon to calm it down, making it easier to catch, but I found it simply easier to just bombard the Pokémon with whichever ball is best.

It’s pretty cool seeing all of these classic scenes come to life in 3D.

As you progress through the game, you acquire better and better Poke balls, eventually finding the Master Ball of which there is only one. Ultra balls will allow you to capture other rare and large Pokémon, so be sure to keep a steady amount of those. During the catching sequence, a circle will appear around it and will get smaller. If you throw the ball within this circle, it will give you extra experience points and will also give a higher chance at a successful catch. When catching a more difficult and rare Pokémon, such as a Snorlax or Chansey, a few “Great!” or “Excellent!” throws in a row will yield a victorious result.

Legendary and large Pokémon like Snorlax must first be weakened before caught. Once their health bar is gone, the catching sequence will initiate.

Throughout your travels, there are plenty of battles and trainers to test your ability to raise Pokémon . This is probably the biggest qualm I have with these new games. Not only does it become tedious and arduous to face what seems a never-ending wall of opponents, but most can be easily overcome by your primary Pokémon , which would be either Pikachu or Eevee, depending on the version bought. On top of its electric base attacks, Pikachu can also learn a Flying and a Water attack, allowing it to defeat ground and rock types, originally unable to do so. What appears as substitution for the inability to evolve it, Eevee is able to learn nearly every single type move, including a water, fire, leaf, psychic, and even a fairy move. Limited to only four moves, Eevee can very well become your battle powerhouse, as having four different attack types allows one to be able to defeat any Pokémon of any type, since Pokémon usually have several type weaknesses.

Eevee is a powerhouse Pokémon in Let’s Go, Eevee.

I was able to clear gyms and the Elite Four with naught, but my Eevee, a couple of revives and some potions. It seems that the game, being easy enough already, has a very easy mode. Catching Pokémon no longer becomes about finding a strong enough Pokémon to take down gym leaders; it’s only good for completionists who want to catch all 151. Why raise Pokémon when you can just make your Eevee stronger and defeat all trainers this way? This makes the game drag on even more and drains it of any fun it thought it had.

You might run into a few surprise characters along the way…

Throughout the Kanto region, trainers of all varieties are itching to fight, including coach trainers, who will usually give you a Technical Machine, or TM, once you beat them. They aren’t much harder than gym leaders, so worry not. But there are also special trainers that appear in places traveled once you beat the Elite Four. They offer another challenge for those who wish to continue playing, but still are not too difficult to defeat.

These guys will usually have evolved Pokemon of a slightly higher level than the trainers nearby.

The old Safari Zone in Fuchsia City has been replaced with the Go Park, which is the way Pokémon Let’s Go implements the mobile game Pokémon Go. In the park, the player can access the Pokemon they have captured via their phones by connecting them to the Switch using bluetooth. This is done in the settings within Pokémon Go. Once connected, the park will allow the transfer of 50 Pokémon at a time. One park will hold 50 Pokémon and the player has access to 20 different parks. Once the Pokémon are downloaded from Go to Let’s Go, the player trainer can then run around the park and re-capture these Pokémon to add them to Let’s Go. It’s a bit redundant, having to catch them again, but at least you’ll have access to the Pokémon you’ve run around for in the real world.

Zippity Zappedy Zapdos.

Legendary Pokémon make a lovely comeback, as this time around, instead of weakening them or putting them to sleep before attempting a catch, the player must first knock the Pokémon out completely, which will then initiate the catching sequence. The three legendary birds such as Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres make stunning displays of power before trying to catch them. Mewtwo is also among the legendaries. What I love most about these moments is the short, but sweet cutscenes that play before battling. These really add to the excitement of having found a true legendary Pokémon.

Pretty sure any person would freeze to death when finding this bird who apparently freezes everything within a few feet.

All original 151 Pokémon are available to catch. Even some Alolan versions of Pokémon have tagged along for the fun, such as Alolan Meowth, Persian, Sandshrew, Sandslash, Grimer, and Muk. Mega evolution also makes a return, as the mega stone can be acquired later on in the game, allowing for a mega evolution of Venasaur, Blastoise, and Charizard. Pinsir and a few others also have mega evolutions. As per usual, there are certain Pokémon that can only be caught in certain versions. In Let’s Go, Pikachu version, Sandshrew, Sandslash, Oddish, Gloom, Vileplume, Growlithe, Arcanine, Mankey, Primeape, Grimer, Muk, and Scyther are exclusive to it. In the Eevee version, Vulpix, Ninetales, Meowth, Persian, Bellsprout, Weepinbell, Victreebell, Ekans, Arbok, Koffing, Weezing, and Pinsir are all exclusive. Trade with other players to get all 151!

HMs have now become Secret Techniques, which can all be learned as abilities that do not take up battle slots. Convenient! And yes, my Eevee just learned Surf.

All of the soundtracks you know and love have been re-orchestrated with modern instruments and it sounds like nostalgia heaven. Trainer Battle Theme is epic and will almost always bring back that old excitement you felt as a kid when fighting yet another battle. Route 11 Theme is adventure music at its finest. I love the heart and spirit—you can tell that the composer has such a love for this game. Last, but not least, Route 3 & 4 Theme will bring a rush of memory as well. Nostalgia reigns supreme in this soundtrack and it will have every veteran player humming along.
As in recent Pokémon games, you are able to change the outfit of your character and this time, both Pikachu and Eevee can also wear outfits. As you progress through the game, different sets will be given to you by random people, so be sure to talk to anyone! A random sailor could give you a sailor outfit or one of Professor Oak’s aides will give you a lab assistant set. Good luck finding them all! My favorite ended up being the police set.

Here’s a decent picture of the Police Set. And Moltres.

Differences between versions

Let’s Go Pikachu contains the usual version differences that players find between Pokémon games. For the most part, the version exclusive Pokémon remain faithful to the original Pokémon Yellow game. However, there are differences in the way that players obtain Bulbasaur, Charmander, and Squirtle. Now, players are tasked with catching a specific number of different Pokémon before the NPC hands over one of the original 3 starters. Also, unlike in the original Pokémon Yellow players can opt to have another Pokémon from their team follow behind them. Since Pikachu mainly rides along on the player’s shoulder, this allows players to form a stronger bond with their Pokémon .

Scumbag Pikachu. Doesn’t listen. Too privileged to be in a Poke ball.

The bonds between Pokémon and trainer are more important than ever in Let’s Go Pikachu as the happier Pikachu is the more likely he is to be able to use its unavoidable attack, Pika Papow. This attack can only be activated when playing via Motion Control though, as it requires players to wiggle the Joycons (or the nifty Pokeball Plus) to unleash a devastating, often fatal attack that never misses. Pikachu can also heal itself of status ailments depending on the strength of your bond. Other Pokémon that the player chooses to have follow them can also learn to cure status ailments and wake themselves up in battle depending on the the strength of their bond.

Pokémon Centers have been completely revamped as well.

While we are on the subject of the Pokeball Plus, I have to say that it may just be the definitive way to play Let’s Go Pikachu. While the game can certainly be played with just about any Switch controller, I really encourage using handheld mode or playing docked with Joycons or the Pokeball Plus. This is due to the special moves Pikachu can do that require motion control and also for the mini game that allows players to play with Pikachu using motion controls or the Switch’s touch screen. As an added bonus, players who buy a new Pokeball Plus can finally legitimately obtain Mew in game as the mythical Pokémon comes included inside!

Just your basic character creator.

Bottom Line

Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee do nostalgia right. While keeping the old spirit of the series, it manages to recreate the adventure, making it new once more. Even though catching Pokémon has been over-simplified and the game can be virtually won by Eevee alone, the game is worth playing through for the memories and how they managed to make a classic 2D game in 3D. While it can drag on and on, I say it’s worth picking up for the nostalgic factor, but be mindful of the easy difficulty and tedious battles that await you.

The Bottom Line

While the two Pokémon Let's Go versions look and play great, the games are too easy, the battles are too numerous, and some changes to the game have taken away some of the fun. It's good for the nostalgia, but not much else. Nevertheless, it is a decent game to hold us over until the next Pokémon game.

 

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John Campbell

Based in San Diego, California, John enjoys working, writing, eating with friends and family, and gaming - both board games and video games. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities, he currently works in IT, but hopes to one day become a full time college professor and writer. His recent favorite games include Persona 5 and NieR: Automata.

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