Having not played a Pokémon game since Pokémon Yellow on the Game Boy Color, I can honestly say Pokémon: Let’s Go was a title that I had been looking forward to playing in the weeks leading up to its release. After putting in what is now a substantial amount of playtime into the game and experiencing most of what it has to offer, I thought I would share my honest opinions on the game. For reference, the version of Pokémon: Let’s Go that I have been playing is the Eevee version. Outside of playing as either Pikachu or Eevee, I believe the only major difference between the two games is that each version has a few exclusive Pokémon that can only be obtained by playing one or the other. This is something that promotes trading, as in order to fully complete your Pokédex you need to make use of the games trading feature. Using said feature requires having a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online, which is something I found to be very unfortunate. For the most part it’s been a very fun game to play, even without being able to complete the entirety of the Pokédex catalogue. Anyways, let’s just get straight to it.
In Pokémon: Let’s Go you play as a Pokémon trainer from Pallet Town. After obtaining your first Pokémon, which will be either Eevee or Pikachu depending on the version of the game, you set off on a journey to obtain the badges of the eight gym leaders across the Kanto region. Obtaining these badges will then allow you to battle the Kanto region’s Elite Four, whom are considered the four best Pokémon trainers in the region. It’s a relatively straightforward adventure, and one that can last anywhere from 25 to 30 hours. This all varies depending on how much time you spend either leveling, or trying to catch the games different types of Pokémon. Not to completely end things there, even after completing the game’s main story there are still a number of extra things available to do in the postgame, like battling Master Trainers, or catching certain Pokémon. So overall, I’d say that it’s possible to get a fair amount of playtime out of this game, at least if you are looking to be a completionist.
Getting a little into the Kanto region, it’s actually mostly designed with linearity, as the games towns and cities are separated by different routes and cavernous areas. Each Route and cave area of the game having different types of Pokémon available to catch, with the towns located throughout the game all having their own Gyms, Pokémon Centers, and Poké Marts. It isn’t the biggest world ever, but it is at the very least nicely detailed with its vivid and brightly colored environments.
In terms of the game’s mechanics and combat, I’d say for the most part things are alright. There are no random battles, as all of the games trainers and Pokémon are visible throughout the world to see. This allows you to outright skip most fights in the game, though there are some trainers who are impossible to avoid. As for the Pokémon, aside for the games legendary types, you don’t actually fight them. The encounters with random Pokémon instead have you playing a Pokéball throwing minigame. The level of difficulty when attempting to catch a Pokémon is determined by the color of the ring when aiming, with red being the most difficult and the color green being the easiest. You’re able to make capturing easier by throwing various food items at the Pokémon, as this will slightly increase the rate of successfully capturing them. As for the way this minigame actually works, it all depends on if you are playing the game either docked or undocked. Playing the game docked forces you to make use of the Joy-Con’s motion controls. This is rather unfortunate, as it feels very frustrating having to sway the camera around and whip your controller forward to toss out the ball. I feel that I should mention that as much as I hated playing this game docked, this method at the very least give you the option of playing the game cooperatively, which can be done by shaking the other Joy-Con. As for playing undocked, in handheld mode you can adjust the view by moving around the Nintendo Switch but instead of having to motion to throw a ball, you just throw it now with a simple tap of a button. Overall, I feel as though the minigame is much easier when playing undocked.
Getting a little bit more into the Pokémon catching mechanic, as it’s an integral part of the game, I feel as though I should mention chain catching Pokémon. In order to chain catch Pokémon, you need to catch the same Pokémon over and over again repeatedly. The higher the chain, the more experience points you receive, and the higher chance you get of obtaining a Pokémon with perfect stats. This of course, is also the method of which you can obtain shiny Pokémon, which are a rare variant of the normal Pokémon you can catch. Admittedly, in the entirety of the time I spent playing I did not see a single shiny Pokémon unfortunately. At the very least it adds more playability in the time you can spend trying to obtain that perfect Pokémon. Not only that, it’s also a great way to obtain Candy, as sending these captured Pokémon to Professor Oak rewards you with various candies that enhance the stats of a Pokémon of your choosing. It’s beneficial either way, so chain catching feels like something definitely worth doing.
As for the game’s combat, it’s a relatively simplistic turn-based RPG. You throw out your main Pokémon, your Pokémon battles other Pokémon. Each Pokémon has four different abilities they can choose from in combat, each of these abilities has a different attack type that may or may not be effective or ineffective against different types of Pokémon. For example, a water Pokémon ability may be weak to lightning based Pokémon but will be strong when used against a fire based Pokémon. This aspect of the game is supposed to create a little bit of strategy when it comes to combat, as different Pokémon may or may not have a certain ability that is strong against whatever opponent you may face. I should also mention that there are also new abilities that can be learned throughout the game. These new abilities can be learned either by leveling your varied Pokémon, or by obtaining Technical Machines (TMs). These can be obtained by either defeating various trainers, finding them laying around on the ground, or by purchasing them. It’s worth noting that Pokémon can only slot 4 abilities at any given time, as any more than 4 and you will have to choose in replacing an ability. This creates a little bit of customization for creating yourself a uniquely built Pokémon, but I do feel that a lot of the games abilities are a bit pointless anyways. If you do end up finding yourself regretting replacing a certain ability however, after a certain point in the game there is an NPC who can reteach a Pokémon’s forgotten abilities.
Another thing I wanted to mention is the game actually has a bit more customizable options outside of the games abilities. Though it’s only for cosmetic purposes, you have the ability to customize both your Pokémon trainer and your starting Pokémon. There is surprisingly a wide array of items to choose from, with hats, glasses, clothing, and different accessories being available. These different clothing options can be obtained either by progressing through the game, or by purchasing certain items at the Celadon City Department Store. It isn’t super in-depth but it does at least allow you to play dress up to give yourself a more unique feeling.
So now with everything out of the way, all that’s left is for me to give my final thoughts on Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee. I can easily say that I definitely enjoyed this game a lot, even with some annoyances. I found locking certain evolutions behind trading was a little ridiculous, and the requirement of needing a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to trade was a little confusing too. I also feel as though the game can be a little too easy at times. I had spent almost the entire game without even having to think about using a Pokémon other than Eevee. In fact, the only other time I had to use a different Pokémon was during the Team Rocket fights since you are forced to use a second Pokémon during those. Outside of that in terms of the game’s combat difficulty, the only time I ever found myself going through any kind of remote struggle was during the fights against the Elite Four. Overall, this game is ridiculously easy. I would even go as far as to say that it’s one of the easiest games I’ve ever played in my life, and I feel as though difficulty is something that I usually struggle to complain about. At the same time, even with the face rolling difficulty, I still found the game to be pretty fun. I had a blast going around and trying to catch different Pokémon, while trying to evolve others. I don’t really feel that the casual difficulty takes too much from a game that’s already fundamentally solid, even with some things that I could probably nitpick. I honestly feel as though the Pokéball throwing minigame was the only aspect of the game that I truly despised, but I feel as though someone else may find it enjoyable. I at least can say that I feel that the positives of Pokémon: Let’s Go highly outweigh the negatives. The gameplay is still enjoyable, and there is something pretty satisfying about going around defeating other trainers and collecting those sweet gym badges. At the end of the day, I could at least say that this is a game that I’m comfortable in recommending to anyone who enjoys playing a solid role playing game.