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Let’s Go, Pikachu!

 

  • Genre: Adventure, Role-playing
  • Developer: Game Freak
  • Publisher: The Pokémon Company / Nintendo
  • Players: 1 – 2
  • Network Players: 2 – 4
  • HD Space: 3.80 GB

Bittersweet symphony while walking down memory lane

This is the game that brought joy to the heart of millions years ago and still does today. I can remember clearly being in first grade when my mother had purchased me a gameboy color with a copy of Pokémon Red. Back in the 90’s it was all the rage. Everyone had shirts, collected the trading cards and of course played the game. This is a remake of that same classic game but for potential children and adults to commence their journey becoming a Pokémon Master for the first time. This is a remake of Pokémon Yellow from 25 years ago made for modern audiences but does this game fully recreate those nostalgic memories or has grown out of touch with its roots? 

The title screen of Pokémon Let’s go Pikachu!

CONCEPT

You’re 10 years old and it’s time to head off on an adventure. You’re about to embark on a grand journey as a Pokémon Trainer to coexist with creatures that live among us. Some of us consider them our friends and family, our faithful companions, our best friends. Others use them for their abilities to help society continue to function, to keep peace in order and to also play with. We call these creatures Pokémon. They come in all shapes and sizes, some cute and others big and scary but they all share a warm heart. There is no such thing as an evil Pokémon. They’re here to help us. To live by our side in harmony and give us happiness, unconditional love.

Before you start you’ll be given a trusty companion and from then on you’ll journey far and wide in search of more Pokémon to call family. Once you encounter them capture them from the wild so you can call them out whenever you want. Train them to make them grow stronger and build your bond with them. Feed them, care for them and make sure to give them lots of love! Your relationship with your Pokémon is special! Accumulate more experience points gained together battling other Trainers like yourself to make them evolve into stronger creatures. Each one dominates certain elements of the universe around us (Fire, Water, Electricity, Grass etc.) and they also boast unique personalities. You’ll learn to understand more about each one of them as you travel.

During your trip you’ll meet many new towns and bustling cities where there are Pokémon Gyms, arenas to battle against the toughest Trainer in the area, to win a Badge. If you are able to beat all 8 of the strongest Trainers in Kanto then you’ll be permitted into the Indigo Plateau. Where the Pokémon Masters reside waiting to be challenged by only the most determined and pure hearted trainer. Are you the Pokémon Master who they’ve been waiting for?

You’ll be navigating throughout all of the region of Kanto! Where the series originally started!! Welcome back home! 🏡

DESIGN

This is a game developed to get new comers and Pokémon GO enthusiasts to incorporate themselves into the world of Pokémon in hopes of them getting more interested the upcoming mainline Pokémon Sword and Shield coming out later Q4 2019. Here, battling trainers don’t grant as much experience points as much as capturing them in the wild. It’s not a bad thing, but most people complain that the game isn’t like the rest and they failed to understand this wasn’t made for them but can still be enjoyed even by veterans. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are encountering different Pokémon that aren’t available in the opposite version. Your starter is selected depending on what version you have bought. Pikachu is an electric type mouse that has always been the mascot of the franchise. Eevee unique ability offers a little more variety in her attacks allowing her to use all the elements giving you a slight advantage in battle but other than that there is nothing else.

Let’s start off with the basics! Pokémon is like Rock, Paper, Scissors but just adding more objects to the mix. Fire type Pokémon beat Grass, Grass beats Water conquers fire. Simple enough right? Other elements include Electricity, Poison, Rock, Fighting, Dragon, Steal, Dark, Fairy, Ice, Ghost and Normal. Pokémon can have up to 2 types of elements which then can get even more interesting. Don’t get stressed out though! It’s not that overwhelming! You’ll learn how they all function but for now just keep that in mind ok? Pokémon has always been around choosing to raise 6 of your favorite Pokémon you come across. If you love how they look, if you think they look strong, cute or for whatever reason – just capture them and see for yourself. By capturing more Pokémon you’ll complete your Pokédex, an electronic device that records a catalog and provide information on the species of Pokémon found. You’ll soon learn to find a right balance for your team giving each one of them a special task. For example some people choose to always have a team member that can make opponents go to sleep or poisoned to help out whenever the situation arrises. As a Trainer, you’ll gradually progress through capturing more Pokémon, this grants everyone in the party who hasn’t fainted experience points to level up which will improve stats and grant new moves. 

For those who have played this game from the beginning, you’ll notice this game a lot easier than when it was first released almost three decades ago. A lot of these differences improve the game and are things that would’ve been ideal to have had years before. Due to technical advancements, many of the designs that simplify the game now allow the game to be accessible yet less challenging. The removal of HM’s allows players to not waste an attack slot for Pokémon or have a slave Pokémon (a Pokémon whose sole purpose is to overcome obstacles and transportation. Pikachu and Eevee share the unique characteristic of being able to use Flash, Cut, Fly, Surf and Strength in a separate screen dedicated to them. In this page you’re able to feed your starter berries to make them happy or pet them over parts of their body to have either one giggle and smile. If they don’t like to be touched in a certain area they’ll get upset. On one side, to caress your loved animal makes any adult feel like they’re playing doll house. It seems awkward. Although it’s relatable on some level as humans do the same to their dogs and cats – it’s just off putting. Constantly giving your starter attention will cause them to give the player valuable gifts used for purchasing rare services late in the game.

HM’s are no longer present and are replaced by a list of special moves Pikachu can use anytime to overcome obstacles (like cutting down trees).🔪🌲

Dragonite can use fly to transport the player across the map without using fast travel. 🗺

There are areas where the player must battle a Pokémon until its health reaches zero before entering the capturing sequence. It would be great if this could be present throughout the whole game, but sadly that’s not the focus in this iteration. You’ll be capturing Pokémon that appear on screen and disappear at random. Instead of being pulled into a battle as previous games had, now you’re able to stroll through areas without being forced. This gives players the option of choosing which Pokémon they want to spend their time on instead of having to lose time searching for the right one without any visual help. By making contact with the Pokémon that appear on screen you’ll engage in the capturing mini game. The Pokémon will appear in the center of the screen and continuously move around to make it harder for you to capture it. A circle surrounding your target will change color indicating the difficulty capturing it. Feed the Pokémon berries to calm it down to make them easier to catch. 

In specific areas, you’ll be required to first bring down a Pokémon’s health before beginning the capturing phase. 🤜💥

At its core, the classic appeal of an engaging battle system is what’s done with fine execution. Attacking opponents is exhilarating and isn’t as simple as it appears to be. Just as a mask, even though the game appears to be a breeze if you’re not prepared correctly you will have a difficult time passing stronger trainers waiting along the roads. Battling constantly and making an effort to capture Pokémon in the areas you visit help increase your experience points faster. If your Pokémon faint in battle you’ll be unable to use them until taking them to a Pokémon Center to get healed. You can also use items purchased in stores or found laying around the region to revive and restore the status of your party members.

Stock up on items like potions or Pokéballs at the Pokémart located in every town! Purchase items and cosmetics with the money you’ve earned after winning battles. 💵🛍💅

Hand over your party to Nurse Joy to heal all your Pokémon while visiting any PokéCenter. Medical insurance is for free. 🏥Why can’t life be like this?🤷‍♂️

AESTHETICS

Anime and can felt at all times. Many would argue to say this game was directed for children in elementary school although what’s important to know is that the art direction is heavily influenced by the Japanese term “kawaii”. It’s supposed to look cute and somewhat childish, it’s what the Japanese most love and this can feel awkward or cause Western and European audiences who aren’t accustomed to this art direction “cringe”. In this sense, they are correct to say it hasn’t been illustrated for everyone. It would’ve been a better decision if they would’ve kept the congruent art direction with how the character models look teenage/adult like in the Pokémon Go! app.

Besides that, the game looks great! The Pokémon games sure have evolved from simple pixels all the way to HD resolution. The animations of starting a battle and hearing the classical music orchestrated gets you pumps for each battle! There’s more of an emphasis on rock music with electrical guitars for many of the battle songs. Each of the battles looks stunning and will remind veterans of the series of Pokémon Stadium for the Nintendo64. The UI is clean with no visual contamination that will distract the player and allows them to stay focused on the battle while still appreciating the many camera angels that will appear on screen. The past has been portrayed by maintaining all of what’s made Pokémon a great game since the beginning. Each  animation is lovely, extravagant and always adds an extra visual flavor to the battles. Seeing everything being recreated and walking through all towns of the Kanto region once again awoke the child in me for a while but slowly faded away after feeling the weight of the years upon my shoulder.

As with Pokémon Yellow, Pikachu is unable to be contained inside a Pokéball and will travel on your shoulders or head depending on the situation. This time around you’re also able to bring out a secondary Pokémon to travel by your side with the ability to ride on certain Pokémon as you take a walk through the Kanto Region.

First time seeing Pokémon in HD like this and it’s so beautiful. We’ve come a long way since elementary school haven’t we Pikachu? 🚸

VALUE

If you’re really into Pokémon Go for mobile devices and already have a Switch, this truly is a game made for you. Especially if you’ve never experienced a Pokémon game before. What was a disappointment was that the online multiplayer feels bland. I felt it wasn’t given importance in expanding its service other than keep it child safe because the only way to battle is to have a friends code. But with every other game allowing us to battle random Trainers from around the world, this felt like a large cut out.

You can purchase a special edition of Pokémon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! which comes with a small Pokéball as a controller that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s a nice addition that has a speaker allowing you to hear Pokémon you capture and change color depending on the type of element. You can also take Pokémon out for a stroll when you’re not playing to improve your relationship and later transfer it back to the game. Its small size sacrifices having no home button which leads to less control of the system and only of the game. The wrist strap comes also with a finger grip to position it tightly around you hand without it falling. The materials feel nicely produced, smooth around the corners and allow for a firm flick of the hand when capturing. It’s easily noticeable that from time to time the motion sensors aren’t the best in the world but that doesn’t ruin the fun. In the end though, the minimalistic controller is very sexy. What’s frustrating is that the Switch’s selling point is to be adaptable for any situation and the majority of games support all types of controllers which is why it was a horrible decision on the developers part to not allow use of the pro controller. Since the Pokéball Plus doesn’t have a Home button, I have to constantly switch between it and the Right Joy Con to access it. So basically I have to use 2 controllers either way and this is ridiculous.

The Pokéball Plus doesn’t always have accurate calibration with the motion controls but still does function as a controller to immerse the user into the world. 🌎

The above images depicts the design of the Pokéball Plus and how to correctly use it. You can also sync it with the Pokémon GO app to help you capture.

But I mean what can there be said? It’s Pokémon. This was my childhood. I did enjoy going through all of Kanto again to reach the Elite Four and battle my way to the top to become the Grand Champion. I remember all those moments alone and shared with friends for countless hours capturing, training and battling together. I felt that warmth from my past. I did however, have a moment of realization... I’m not a child. I’m a 27 year old adult and this game really didn't feel like it was for me. It felt more for my children that I don't have. I believe this is an excellent video game for the parents who already have children and want to share that experience of being a Pokémon Trainer for the first time with them. It’s such a wonderful joy to choose your first starter, travel to unknown lands and be guided by your parents. This game did successfully bring all the originality from decades ago and improve upon its formula by designing an attractive battle system that still feels fun, fresh and addictive to this day even after 25 years since this franchise started.
Concept9
Design8.5
Aesthetics10
Value8.5
Positive
Brings the original 151 Pokémon back to region of Kanto back with high resolution
An improved simple and clean classic battle system
Challengingly difficult enough to keep players engaged
The Pokéball Plus is a perfect addition for immersion
Negative
Minor sections have been cut and veterans will feel a nostalgic flesh wound
At times, the eastern anime charm doesn’t sink in well with the western culture
Online multiplayer is only available for those with friend codes
There is an awful lag in specific areas when too many Pokémon spawn
You can’t play in portable mode with the Pro Controller
Would like to mute Pikachu's voice when he appears on screen. I don't want to hear him say Pika Pika every time.
9
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