Pokémon: Let’s Go feels strikingly different from past games in the series at first, but after adjusting to the new mechanics, it begins to reveal itself as the classic Pokémon experience fans are expecting. The Pokémon GO integration is a bit offsetting, and, ultimately, cheapens the experience of the first-ever home console Pokémon title. That said, the demo I played at E3 left me incredibly optimistic about the game.
There are no wild battles, but this really isn’t a deal breaker. In fact, I would argue it streamlines the experience and allows players to engage with more important aspects of the game, like trainer battles and taking on gym leaders. While battling wild pocket monsters is certainly fun, it’s simply a form of grinding that gets old, fast. The franchise has always been about collecting, and Pokémon: Let’s Go further illustrates that point in a suitable way.
The Kanto region is one of my favorites. It’s beautifully simple, a blast to explore, and includes so many iconic areas. The series has been continually held back due to the limited handheld power of systems like 3DS, DS, Game Boy Advanced and Game Boy, but the long-awaited jump to HD is worth the wait. Exploring Viridian Forest and its gorgeous, modern visuals were such a treat as a lifelong Pokémon fan and only gets me excited to see more of the world. Seeing locations like Lavender Town, Cinnabar Island, Seafoam Islands, and Nugget Bridge in HD for the first time is going to feel like a whole new experience, even though I’ve explored these places countless times in past games.
Attention to detail is an aspect of Let’s Go that impressed me. From the way your starter follows behind you, to in-battle quirks, to seeing how Pokémon interact with the overworld, the developers fully utilized the new hardware to capitalize on subtle moments that really stick with the player.
Lastly, the Poké Ball Plus is a surprisingly fantastic addition to the game. I expected it to feel like a cheap accessory to complement the title, but it ended up really improving my experience with the demo. Poké Ball Plus brings with it amazing rumble features and comfortable controls. The most unique feature of all, though, is capturing Pokémon in conjunction with the Pokémon GO app, rather than the Let’s Go titles. It’s a new mechanic that takes absolutely nothing away from the core experience, but provides more casual players with additional ways to “catch ’em all.”
Pokémon: Let’s Go is a great blend of classic Pokémon with the more recent Pokémon GO gameplay. While I would’ve preferred a traditional remake of the Kanto region that didn’t utilize GO elements, it’s impossible to ignore the success of the mobile title and its ability to bring new players to the franchise. Pokémon GO was always going to have an impact on future Pokémon installments. Game Freak did a splendid job at integrating the vastly different experiences into one that keeps me engaged as a classic Pokémon fan.