Nintendo and Game Freak have teamed up for many memorable projects with everyone's favourite pocket-sized monsters. Now, they're at it again with a fresh classic-style RPG and a cool new controller, too!
Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!
Let's start with the game. As with a lot of Pokémon titles, Let's Go has 2 separate releases. Here, they're called Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! I played through the latter only so I'm not sure what the differences are exactly but if past games are any indication, only hardcore fans will find value in owning both titles. Anyway, Pokémon: Let's Go is essentially a familiar RPG that'll feel right at home for fans of the series. You journey between towns and dungeons across the map in the hopes of earning badges from defeating the top-ranked trainers in the land. As you progress, you'll amass a large collection of Pokémon as well as level them up, trade their skills with preferred ones, and generally optimize your party. Doing so is incredibly rewarding and I had great fun fine-tuning my party so they could take out anyone standing in their way.
Adventuring between locations is an engaging task as you'll constantly find new items, battle various Pokémon, and try to capture any rogue Pokémon wandering about. If you see an NPC's back against a wall then they'll probably challenge you to a duel as soon as you cross their eye line. I personally tried to challenge every single person I could find thus levelling up my collection of Pokémon so they could eventually qualify for (and hopefully succeed in) the match against the next trainer. Trying to uncover every nook and cranny while watching your party's abilities develop is very satisfying and I enjoyed each new dungeon and environment throughout.
Pokémon Let's Go features a few different control methods: you can use a single Joy-Con with motion controls, play undocked with completely different motion controls, or use the Poké Ball Plus which I'll get into a bit later in more detail. No matter how you decide to play, the controls are super-intuitive and responsive. For example, panning the undocked Switch left and right to keep track of Pokémon while trying to catch them is just as fun as carefully timing and aiming using a Joy-Con or the Poké Ball Plus controller. It's fresh control options like these that make catching Pokémon a rewarding endeavour. After all is said and done, the classic gameplay and fun new control methods come together to make one thoroughly enjoyable adventure from start to finish.
One aspect of Pokémon Let's Go that can be mildly disappointing for long-time fans looking for the next big Pokémon adventure is that the core gameplay is rather simple and unchallenging. When you strip out all of the fresh ideas and nifty control methods, you're left with a simple game that doesn't offer any sort of deep gameplay or substantial sense of challenge. Of course, if you haven't played Pokémon in a while then what you'll find here will make you happy to dive straight back in to the familiar and charming world.
Poké Ball Plus
As promised, let's discuss the Poké Ball Plus controller. For starters, it has a hatch at the back where you can connect the USB charging cable as well as a wrist strap and a plastic ring that you can expand to fit over your finger of choice. The strap and ring are in place to ensure that you don't accidentally throw the Poké Ball but to be honest, I didn't end up using them. Instead, I just pinched the ball in my left hand while using my right to control the game. Speaking of controls, the stick in the centre can be pressed in which acts as the main action / confirm button while a button on the top red part of the ball allows you to back out of menus as well as bring up the pause menu. That's all there is to it; it's quite possibly the simplest controller that I've ever used besides an Atari 2600 joystick.
Thankfully, the controls work impressively well and it has some awesome features, too. It's capable of motion controls which act a lot like using a single Joy-Con but what's even cooler is that the little analog stick lights up during certain events and you can hear Pokémon inside of it whenever you catch one. It's a very versatile little device as well because it doubles as a Pokémon GO Plus which means it can communicate with your smartphone and automatically notify you of Pokémon GO events when you're out and about. Although all of this is awesome, I must admit that using the Poké Ball Plus was occasionally annoying. More specifically, if I wanted to take a screenshot or go to the Switch's main menu then I had to pick up the Switch or pair another controller in order to do so.
Pokemon: Let's Go offers a new and exciting adventure while the Poke Ball Plus controller is one of the coolest devices that I've played with in a long time. So, if you're a fan of the franchise or just want some lighthearted fun then this pack is worth a purchase.
- + Mix of classic Pokémon gameplay and fresh ideas make for one fantastic adventure
- + Delightful game world to explore
- + Playing with the Poké Ball Plus is great fun
- - Pokémon veterans may find the core game to be too simple and unchallenging
- - Poké Ball Plus has some minor annoyances