There are still a couple of days to go before the latest Pokémon titles Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! hit the shelves, but the first reviews have started to trickle in – and thanks to the fount of all knowledge that is Metacritic, we already have some indication as to how this pocket monstering adventure is going to play out.
The good news is, the game has scored pretty well. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! has achieved a very respectable 81 on Metacritic, with one of the highest results coming from GamesRadar+ who described the title as “a wonderful blend of old and new, and an exciting glimpse at the future of Pokémon.” The website was particularly complimentary of the visuals, describing them as “phenomenal” whilst adding that “walking through each city feels like coming home for Pokémon Yellow players, but oozes with enough life and vitality to suitably impress those who are coming into the Pokémon series for the first time.”
And whilst hardcore Pokémon players might have some concerns as to how the new Pokémon GO-style catching mechanic might work – particularly with regards to levelling up – IGN offered much reassurance in its review of the game. “Not once did I feel like I was missing out on battling because of the catching system change,” the reviewer wrote. “Kanto is littered with trainers ready for a fight, and speciality trainers like Coach Trainers and Ace Trainers offer a nice challenge…”
If anything, IGN wondered if some of its Pokémon were over-powered – an indication, perhaps, of the reduced difficulty curve to make the titles more accessible to younger (or more inexperienced) players. Indeed, the reviewer explained that their team had been able to knock out one of the Elite Four’s Pokémon in one hit. “This is supposed to be an easier Pokémon game, so I understand that this is trying to reward you more for using the correct type matchup,” they add. “It’s not bad, just surprising.”
Now, you may recall that there is the option to play Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Eevee! with a Poké Ball Plus – a special Poké Ball-shaped Switch controller which comes with an analogue stick, motion sensitivity, and a speaker system. Basically, you can use it to navigate your way through the game, toss it at the screen to catch other Pokémon, and also ‘store’ specific Pokémon inside and take them away. (Apparently, if you tap the ball the Pokémon will answer you back!) Destructoid found it to be acceptable and played half the game with this device, opting to finish the rest in portable mode with a Joy-Con. The website did, however, “sorely” miss the Pro Controller.
There were some criticisms about the controls though, as Nintendo Life explained. “If a Pokémon jumps to the left or right of the screen, you’ll likely find yourself needing to throw the ball in that direction, but getting your controller to register a diagonal throw is easier said than done; sometimes we even found our ball flying to the side rather than straight as we had intended.”
In terms of online functionality, much of this was unavailable for the pre-release reviewers, but the games will be connectable to Pokémon GO for pocket monster transfers and mini games. And in terms of local multiplayer, it’s possible for another trainer to drop in at any time and assist a battler in distress simply with a shake of the Joy-Con. Nintendo Life described this as a “completely optional and very nicely executed” feature, which is reassuring.
All in all, it sounds like it’s shaping up to be a solid entry in the Pokémon series. Yes, it would appear to be a tad ‘watered down’ and perhaps a little more ‘mainstream’ than some would like, but the majority of the reviewers don’t seem to have much issue with this. As Nintendo Life puts it: “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! are beautiful re-imaginings of a video game classic, updating a 20-year-old game in ways which make it infinitely more accessible and user-friendly for a modern audience, while keeping the magic first discovered all those years ago.”
Personally, I can’t wait to play. The game(s) launch on Friday 16th November on the Nintendo Switch.