REVIEW: Pokemon Let's Go! Pikachu
Pokemon Let's Go! Pikachu and Eevee has recently come to life on the Nintendo Switch. Let's grab our Pokeballs (and our Pokeball Plus' if you've got them) and rewind back to Kanto!
For their first venture with a full release on the Switch, Nintendo and Game Freak aren't going down the vein of the official Pokemon releases. With a new main line title being tipped for next year, Let's Go! goes towards a tried and true Pokemon method, a re-make.
Now the original Pokemon games have already been subject to a re-make (Fire-Red/Leaf Green), but this project is something new. To start with, it opens up with the standard Pokemon opening, a wonderful greeting my Professor Oak. But the initial opening does show the graphical upgrade that being on the Switch has allowed. With the gorgeous 1080p when in dock mode, the colours of each Pocket Monster as it pops up on screen shine through and the details of the textures are outstanding.
After your little intro, the game begins with waking up in your Pallet Town bedroom. Strolling downstairs and looking to leave through the tall grass, a small cutscene with Oak begins and you are given your first opportunity to catch a Pokemon. Not only a Pokemon, but your title Poke! Pikachu or Eevee, depending on your choice, for myself it's the Yellow Mascot we all know, Pikachu! But when it comes to catching, we're introduced to the new mechanic exclusive to Let's Go! The motion controls. For this review, we decided to play the full game with the brand new Pokeball Plus.
As the screen shows the target Pokemon, a ball appears in the centre of the screen. When going to catch, you tap the button and smashing the fourth wall (and hopefully not your TV, wear your strap!), swing your Pokeball to throw it! Like the mobile game, Pokemon Go, it's all about timing, trying to match the throw to when the catching circle is as small as possible. For a catching mechanic and a new addition to the series, it breathes a bit of life to the catching of Pokemon. However it does remove the combat mechanic when it comes to catching, something die-hard fans may not enjoy. I feel that it suits this new title perfectly however, and when your starter is caught, your adventure continues!
I'm not going to delve too hard into the story here, as I feel if you don't know it, it's best to experience it. But the world as you travel through continues to expand and becomes filled with more and more variety of Pokemon and people. With Gym battles and trainers true to the originals, but with new life thanks to the upgrades, it's a non-stop adventure balanced with a great mix of battling and catching.
A small side note however for those of you thinking of picking up, or already have, a Pokeball Plus. I took Pikachu out for a stroll and connected the Plus to my Pokemon Go account as well. After a walk and a quick Go gym battle, I hopped back on the Switch and re-connected the Plus. I thought Pikachu may have levelled up once or twice, but it shocked me to watch him jump from level 5 up to 29. So if you want a bit of a challenge, take heed and don't walk your team in your Plus.
It is a bit of a downer that to trade and battle with friends online you need to have the Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but it's kind of worth it in the post-game. This is where I feel that Let's Go! is lacking, as after catching everything and completing the story line, there is little left to do. Whereas previous titles have Battle Tower and the like, it feels slightly empty. There is a nice little extra with the Master Trainers dotted across the map however, which are 1v1 battles and challenges to prove you are the Master of a certain Pokemon. It's fun, but maybe not quite enough for a series hungry fan.
All round Pokemon Let's Go! Pikachu and Eevee is a great start to seeing Pokemon on the Switch. A loving reimagining of the original 151, perfect for new starters and a treat for veterans to play casually. An easy 8.5/10.