Oh hey, it’s me. Did you miss me? No posts in November? Are you sure? Ohh yeah… Well I am here now, smack bang in post game land of Pokémon Let’s Go, and I feel like I’ve played enough of this game to give it an informed review. I played Pikachu Edition, which I bought for myself.
We return to Kanto, which is nice. A nice, colourful, HD Kanto and it is beautiful to look at. The Pokémon are emotive and adorable and the renewed soundtrack is delightful! The world itself though is still very square, as they have gone with the full 1:1 rescaling of the original Kanto, which isn’t a bad thing, but in HD almost feels a little fourth wall breaking. The NPC’s also feel lifeless as they stand around forever waiting for you to walk by and challenge you.
The trainer battles are what would would expect though. Abilities from the core games are gone, but this just serves to simplify the battles a little, so that is nice for newcomers and isn’t a deal breaker for experienced battlers. But you will have to bear it in mind. No Levitate Koffing means it can and will get hit by Earthquake for instance.
Catching Pokémon leaves a lot to be desired for me. On the dock the throwing mechanics are super wonky, making you throw balls in wildly wrong directions for seemingly no reason and requires a lot of practice. The game does very little to show you how to throw to the left and right and the throwing tutorial is very basic. As well as this, it has Pokémon Go mechanics, so you don’t battle wild Pokémon to catch them. Which brings me to the biggest issue I have with this game.
Fleeing. Pokémon can flee at any time and seemingly with no way to mitigate it. Also the RNG on this, and catching in general, feels so arbitrary. There’s no sense of difficulty, and regardless of how difficult the game says the catch will be, it never seems to translate into reality. But fleeing, I believe, can be stopped with the Nanab Berry in the game, but if it breaks out of a Pokéball, be prepared to throw another berry. In Pokémon Go that is quite simple with a touchscreen. you press the berry button and select your berry. In Let’s Go, with lack of touch controls it is a slog through two or three menus before you can use the berry, and with Pokémon able to flee at any time, you’re on the clock. It can lead to situations where you are throwing ball after ball and catching nothing for twenty minutes and having nothing to show for it, and as a player, there is no feel-good feeling in this situation. I have found myself turning the game off as the fun stops and the frustration sets in. And bear in mind this game is marketed to the younger newcomers to the series. The Go catching mechanics just don’t translate well here and it feels clumsy. Not to mention in handheld mode it IS easier, with you able to track a moving Pokémon with the gyroscope in the system and it amazes me why that control scheme hasn’t been implemented into the Pro Controller (that’s right, no Pro Controller support). Not to mention with all this, there is a chaining mechanic where if you catch the same Pokémon over and over again, you get increased shiny chance (shinies are very low chance at an alternate coloured version of a Pokémon) and better stat rolls. Chaining mechanic with arbitrary fleeing with next to no mitigation is horrifying and leads to a lot of disappointment. The mitigation is if you miss a throw or two, you run away yourself to keep the chain, but again, there is really no place for the frustrating flee mechanic in the first place without something more solid in place to mitigate it. Running from battles just feels like a workaround rather than a legitimate solution.
Storywise, again, if you’ve played any Pokémon game, you know what to expect. Defeat eight gyms and beat the Elite Four. Team Rocket show up from time to time (including Jessie and James from the anime, which is a nice touch) to battle you and stop you in your tracks and all that jazz. It’s not too complex and doesn’t distract from the catching and battling that make up the core of the game.
All in all, I have had fun with this game, and the more I played it the more fun I had. But those moments where you just want to throw the Switch out of the window, especially when chaining and suchlike, really left a sour taste in my mouth. It may feel like a silly thing to moan about, but remember who this game is marketed for. If I was an 8 year old and having this happen, I’d likely never play the game again. Arbitrary RNG is not difficulty. It’s just arbitrary without proper mechanics to mitigate it. And that is my only real moan. Pokémon aren’t loot drops, they are the core of the game, and they just don’t feel like they are treated as such. The core games had abilities like Arena Trap, moves like False Swipe and different types of Pokéballs for different situations but this game has none of that, but if it had something, just something more than what it does have, I feel it would be a much more fun and rewarding experience.
I look forward to the release of the new core game next year!