This gaming season has been packed with more games to play than I have time to commit to. Spider-Man, Assassins Creed Odyssey, Red Dead 2, and of course the latest Smash Brothers title. It also doesn’t help that two of these major releases happen to be open world games that demand you put a massive amount of time in order to get the full experience. So with all these fantastic games to play why is it that a game I’ve played dozens of times before seems to be taking up all of my attention?
Pokemon Let’s Go is essentially just a remake of a game most of us have already played time and time again. Between the original three Pokemon games and the later remakes, Leaf Green and Fire Red, I’ve played through the Kanto games more times than I’d like to admit. So why is it that Pokemon Let’s Go still manages to garner so much of my time when there are other games to be played? If I’m being honest, it’s probably due to how easy it is to pick up and play.
There’s no huge commitment when it comes to the game. When I have some time to play it’s a lot more comforting to boot up the game, catch a few Pokemon, maybe beat a few trainers, save the game and be on my way. While the heavy hitters this season such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassins Creed Odyssey require me to set aside a few hours in order to really dig into the game and make progress.
Pokemon Let’s Go is a lot more streamlined in comparison to its predecessors removing a lot of the “padding” the series had in the past. For example, no more worrying about random encounters every step you take while in a cave or on water. Pokemon are shown in the overworld allowing you to catch the ones you want to and avoid the ones you don’t. This is something I never knew I wanted in a Pokemon game until I tried it. How something so simple that other RPGs have been doing for years now improves the overall experience so much. I actually don’t mind exploring caves with this new change. It also made me realize how quickly you can traverse similar areas in this fashion. When I was younger playing these games I use to dread going into a new cave without being fully stocked up on repels to avoid the onslaught of Zubat and Geodude. After getting used to this new wild pokemon encounter mechanic I can’t imagine nor do I want to go back to the old way.
Another welcomed change to the series is HM’s are now changed to Secret Techniques. So instead of having to carry around an HM slave for useless moves like Cut or Flash, your Eevee or Pikachu can learn these Secret Techniques to allow you to surf, cut etc. without worry. No more wasting one of your 6 Pokemon slots for a Bibarel. Additionally, the traditional way of catching pokemon has also seen some changes. Everyone wild pokemon encounter is now treated as an encounter you would expect inside the safari zone. This means you no longer battle wild Pokemon instead you are immediately prompted to start throwing Poke Balls at them to try and catch them. Pokemon can run away and you’re able to use items to make catching them easier. The only exception to this is legendary encounters.
When it comes to legendary pokemon you must defeat them in battle before you are able to try and catch them and these battles are usually timed. If you’re used to playing Pokemon Go than all of this should feel familiar already. I personally wish you could have the option to turn off the motion controls when throwing Poke Balls as it can be finicky at times and it’s significantly easier to catch Pokemon with the Switch in handheld mode rather than docked.
When it comes to battling there are some changes worth mentioning that will affect people differently depending on if they’re a competitive player or not. I suppose the biggest change is Pokemon no longer have abilities in this game. Which felt weird to me at first. If you’ve been playing Pokemon for a while then you can remember that Pokemon originally never had abilities in the earlier games but to now have them removed its kind of strange. There were moments where I was glad I didn’t have to worry about Poison Point or Static when battling but I also missed my Gyrados having Intimidate. I also didn’t bother having a Gengar on my team because of its lack of levitate.
Pokemon are unable to hold items in the Let’s Go series as well which is another massive part of the competitive Pokemon scene. Most people coming over from Pokemon Go won’t care either way but I absolutely missed my Leftovers. Finally the last big change to battling is how your Pokemon can shrug off attacks and ignore status effects through sheer love. Depending on how much your Pokemon loves you it can remove effects like poison and paralysis or straight up avoid a move. If I were to choose something I really dislike about the Let’s Go series this would be it.
Overall it’s still the same Pokemon Kanto region experience. Although there have been some cool additions to the game to make the experience feel somewhat fresh. There are some pretty nice cutscenes throughout the game, being able to have just about any Pokemon follow you with the ability to ride some of them instead of a bike or running. I just wish it were a little quicker to hop on and off your Pokemon like you could your bike. I know some people want to argue that Pokemon Let’s Go is dumbed down or easier than previous games, and in some ways that’s true but Pokemon games have never been hard. Whenever I had that thought I just remember how this is simply a game meant to capitalize on all the new people exposed to Pokemon from Pokemon Go and slowly ease them into the series. Besides Nintendo already confirmed and mainline Pokemon game is in the works so I can’t be mad. Once I reminded myself of that I was able to enjoy my playthrough of Pokemon Let’s Go a lot more. If you’re a hardcore player this isn’t really targeted for you, but it’s the perfect streamlined Pokemon experience for newcomers.