Reviews | Written by Stephen J Boothroyd 18/11/2018

POKEMON: LET’S GO PIKACHU! / LET’S GO EEVEE!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Ant and Dec’s Saturday morning Pokémon battles on SMTV Live, but that’s how long it’s been since Pokémon first took the UK (as well as the rest of the word) by storm. Over 100 games, 18 films, and well over 1000 episodes later, and finally a main series Pokémon game has come to home console - fittingly, a re-imagining of how it all began.

Let’s Go is a modern remake of 1998's Pokémon Yellow from the Game Boy. It’s been gorgeously recreated in 3D, akin to the later games on the 3DS, but now with beautiful HD visuals for the first time. One of the biggest improvements in the visuals compared to recent games is that players are now able to see Pokémon wandering around in the wild. It’s not to the extent of something like Xenoblade (one day maybe), but it’s great to finally be able to see them all, and you can’t help but be excited when you first see a gigantic Onix wandering around.

Pokémon games have always been decent in the music department, making good use of whatever technologies they have to work with, but this game really steps it up a notch and it fits in wonderfully with the new visuals. It’s not just the aesthetics that have been changed, however - the gameplay has been given a big overall. Re-designed to be more accessible, to encapsulate the technology of the Switch, and to remove some of the grindier parts of the series, these changes for the most part are for the better, though not without their shortcomings.

Random battles have been removed completely, so instead of dreading wandering through long grass and caves you’re now able to see the Pokémon. This allows you to choose whether to interact with them, or just avoid them and keep on walking. Whereas in previous games the interaction would consist of battling your own Pokémon against wild ones to either gain XP or to weaken and catch it, this game changes that in favour of a system taken straight out of the mobile phenomenon Pokémon Go. Catching a Pokémon will add it your collection and gives some XP to the other Pokémon in your party.

Wisely, a bit more depth has also been added elsewhere. Again similar to Pokémon Go, you gain extra XP for timing your throws, and you can gain bonus XP for catching the same Pokémon back to back. There are also tiny/giant versions of Pokémon - catching these provides even more XP, and they’ll also have slightly improved abilities.

There are three different control options for the game: the traditional handheld experience, using a single Joycon, or using the Pokéball Plus controller. If you’re right-handed it feels weird to throw with your left, or to control a character’s movement stick with your right, as it’s pretty much been the left since the dawn of time. It’s an odd decision not to give people the option of two Joycons or the Pro Controller. The game has an optional two player co-op mode, but this basically just involves the second player battling along side you but doing little else.

The Pokéball Plus accessory is an expensive luxury, but it certainly adds something to the experience. Prior to using it, the catching mechanics were probably the weakest part of the game, especially in handheld mode. The Pokéball Pro spins that thought on its head - once you start using it, catching Pokémon becomes a much more sought after experience. Just little touches such as the sound effects, the lights during a catch, and taking it away from the game to party like you're playing Sonic Adventure in 1999, is all very rad. Unless you're keen to use the integrated Pokémon Go functionality, you'll probably have buyer remorse once you finish Let's Go, but during it, expect a childlike grin on your face throughout.

Overall, Pokémon: Let’s Go is an excellent remake. The aesthetics are better than they’ve ever been, and the gameplay changes make it less grindy. Catching Pokémon is as addictive as it's ever been, and there’s never been a better reason to go catch 'em all.

POKEMON: LET'S GO PIKACHU!, LET'S GO EEVEE! / DEVELOPER: GAME FREAK / PUBLISHER: NINTENDO / PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW