During the weekend of July 28th-29th I was lucky enough to be invited as a plus one to Nintendo UK VS Live! This was the first time Nintendo have held their own event for the Nintendo Switch since the premier launch and it was fantastic. It was a chance to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the first time as well as indie games like Overcooked 2 (a personal favourite of mine). The main stage showed off multiplayer favourites like Fortnite, Mario Tennis Aces, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Paladins, DRAGON BALL FighterZ and an exclusive look at FIFA 19.
But in the media/retail area (making it sound fancy, it was just a curtained-off section of the hall) Nintendo had a special surprise in store. Pokémon had turned up with demo copies of their brand new title Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Speaking to the guys running the event, they only knew the game was coming 2 days before show-day so it was a surprise for us all as this was the first time the game could be played in Europe!
Pokémon had some rules…
As usual The Pokémon Company had some strict rules about what we could and couldn’t do in the game or with it.
- No photos, videos or game captures of the demo were allowed (it was all a “secret”)
- Only 10 minutes of playtime was permitted per session
- No levelling up Pokémon to the point of evolution
- Only Viridian Forest was allowed to be explored
- No talking to characters in the area before the forest and no exiting the forest at the other end
- No viewing the options menu or any other menu UI apart from in battle/catching Pokémon
- Only allowed to use the Pokéball Plus, no using the JoyCon
I’ll cut to the chase with the big question that everyone is asking:
Is it good?
The answer that I and most other people will give you is yes.
And it comes with a big but.
Because as a gamer and a long-term fan of many series I always find that with sequels, remakes, remasters or reimaginings, whatever you want to call them, is that when people ask if it’s good, what they’re really asking is ‘is it what I want?’
Let’s Go has been revealed to be missing aspects that the main series traditionally has had such as no wild battles and speculation of no abilities which has seen many go into uproar. Personally, the lack of wild battles was slightly disappointing but actually playing the game, catching Pokémon is equally as fun and challenging regardless, especially if you’re playing with the Pokéball Plus (we’ll get to that).
However, trainer battles play the exact same as any other main series title except that you received Pokéballs as well as money when victorious; whether that was only part of the demo to allow you to catch more Pokémon or if it’s that the system in the main game I do not know.
Battle animations look great in their new 3D space and gave me the nostalgia of Stadium whilst keeping up with Sun and Moon. My only personal gripe with them (after watching the trailers too) is that it would have been cool if certain Pokémon had unique animations for certain attacks. For example: when Blastoise uses Hydro Pump, water comes out of both of his cannons and not from a magical field around his forehead.
Let’s Go has also managed to find the cutest way to release your partner into battle and that’s by launching them one-handed Smash Bros. style onto the battlefield. It’s cuter than it sounds. Trust me.
Now let’s talk about the Pokéball Plus.
The Pokéball Plus is simultaneously one of the coolest and also most okay piece of hardware I have ever seen.
The look is everything any Pokémon fan could dream of. A real life Pokéball that carries and catches your Pokémon.
I was able to play with two Pokéball Plus units that weren’t connected to the game but were showcasing carrying Pikachu and Eevee in your pocket. They make noises depending on how you interact with the ball, using the real voice actors, and Eevee’s cries are so heartbreakingly cute that I was willing to cut my losses with the world and leave with the ball there and then. Rolling the ball gently in your palm causes them to make noises of relaxation. Shaking the ball causes them to make happy cries. I could have spent at least an hour on both finding out what each individual cry sounded like. It was adorable.
Nevertheless, the actual function of the Pokéball Plus is…okay. I’d heard from the two volunteers that others had complained about how the Pokéball Plus didn’t play well. My personal experience is that it was difficult to aim the ball on-screen and predict the trajectory of your throws when physically throwing the ball. Or that most throws had to be done underarm.
And that’s not the Pokémon Master dream. Ash Ketchum throws his balls with passion, not like he’s playing catch with a 3-year-old.
Where’s the huge but?
The real question most long-term fans want answered when reading articles like this will be “is it what I want?” The phrase that I see lot lately is “but the game isn’t for you“.
They’re not wrong. The game is definitely aimed more at younger audiences and to appeal more to GO players.
They’re also not right. It’s a Pokémon game and like every other main series game, they’ve made changes. I know normally that is additions rather than subtractions but things change. Pokémon GO has a massive player-base and they would be idiots to not take advantage of that and make something tailored to them.
The demo was fun. There are many unknowns about the full game. Will there be a post-game and what will it entail? If we’re not playing as Red and Blue then what is our new character’s story? Are there any other surprises in store? Will there be anything for the competitive scene? We don’t know.
I have fears like everyone else that this game will not fair well in terms of reception but I have no fear that people won’t buy it. I have fears the Pokédex will be easily completable and there will be no replay value to the game. A new game is coming in 2019 that will not be affected by the mobile app like Let’s Go has been and for those actively hating it, that game is for you.
My overall opinion is that Let’s Go should be given a chance like any new addition to the series. I didn’t want to return to Kanto unless there was something new to explore there. I’m hoping the nostalgia train is enough to keep my faith this game will not be the disappointment everyone is setting it out to be.
I really like Eevee.
My baby is finally getting the spotlight it deserves.