Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu are supposed to act as a bridge between the mobile title Pokemon Go and the franchise’s main games. The game is adorable. It’s vibrant. The art style is rad. The game itself, though? Kinda mediocre.
At this year’s E3 I had a chance to play through Viridian Forest with Pikachu sitting on my shoulder. The game is a complete reimagining of the Kanto region. It’s not just a visual upgrade for the Switch, it’s a recreation of the Kanto region many of us grew up playing in. This is the way Pokemon games were meant to be played.
Unfortunately, a lot of the other game’s features aren’t nearly so sophisticated. The Pokeball controller (which is optional, thankfully), is small and not very comfortable to use. The Nintendo representative told me it’s small so that a child could play. I’m not going to lie, I’ve got smaller hands, but this method of control was not that comfortable even for me. The main button you use throughout the game is by clicking in the analog stick. I don’t mind clicking down the right stick in a shooter, but doing it constantly in an RPG is a pain.
The one really cool feature of the Pokeball is the rumble. It feels really nice, especially when you’re catching a Pokemon. The side-to-side wiggle that Pokemon is used to is captured perfectly in the controller. I was not able to play with the Pro Controller or the Joycons, so I’m unsure how the rumble translates to those controllers.
All the Pokemon are visible on the overworld. On one hand, it’s super nice because theoretically, you’re able to choose when you want to engage with Pokemon and when you want to avoid them. It’s a great change for the series and one which has been a long time coming. No more random battles! Unfortunately, there are just too many Pokemon. They’re pretty tough to avoid and it makes battles more frequent that I would like.
The crappy part is that battles are gone when you encounter wild Pokemon. You either capture them using motion controls (via Pokemon Go style) or you run away. It a weird gameplay decision. I presume you evolve Pokemon by reaching a certain level, not by trading the Pokemon you capture for candy like in Pokemon Go. Yet, since you get Pokeballs from winning battles, and you get exp from capturing Pokemon, it incentivizes a system where you capture virtually every Pokemon you come across. What the heck?
Fortunately, Pokemon battles are still preserved when you run into other Pokemon trainers. This gameplay mechanic, the core of the Pokemon series, is still a blast. The upgraded Pokemon animations are gorgeous and the 3D battle style is a wonderful upgrade for the series.
Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu are launching on November 16. Younger players are sure to have a great time playing through the game. But, if it’s not your first time running through the Kanto region, there will probably be a lot of gameplay elements you’re going to miss seeing.