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Pokemon Let’s Go First Thoughts: Mixed Bag

Pokemon Let’s Go: Eevee and Pikachu editions were announced last night, and admittedly, I was a bit pessimistic. I mentioned in my E3 predictions article that I was hoping for a new main-series entry this November, but instead we’re getting a spin-off and a year-long delay before generation eight really starts. However, after a spirited discussion (that was really just three people trying to convince someone else not to be such a Negative Neil and just wait for more information before swearing off the game), I’m a little more optimistic about it.

Pro: it’s a Kanto remake. I’ve wanted a remake of Kanto since OR/AS was announced; as great as the HG/SS postgame is, I wanted to relive the journey from Oak giving me my first pokemon to defeating Blue at the Indigo Plateau with all the little new touches remakes can give. The Pokemon Company has such a special way of making the old feel new again with every game, and I wanted to see what they could do with Red and Blue over 20 years after their inception. Remaking Yellow on its twentieth anniversary is fantastic, and it makes sense that they’d try something radically different in a game that tried to set itself apart from Red/Blue/Green.

Eh: It’s a Switch game and it knows it. Nintendo knows their hardware better than anyone, and whenever they make something new, they use it to the fullest extent. Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks were the only Legend of Zelda games on the DS, so they took full advantage of the touchscreen, and arguably went a bit overboard. Wii games went overboard with the waggle controls, Wii U games went overboard with the gamepad, and on the Switch, Super Mario Odyssey… well, went overboard with the waggle controls again. When the trailer showed players flicking their joy-cons to capture pokemon, I knew that would get old real fast. However, you can opt to press a button instead of flick the controller, which kind of nullifies this whole segment. It’s nice to have the option, but I don’t see myself ever flicking to capture.

Let’s Go will also take advantage of the Pokeball Plus, which is under development by Niantic and Game Freak. I like optional elements in games, but this will probably have a paywall in front of it. Combined with Pokemon Go, the Pokeball Plus will function like a HG/SS Pokewalker, letting you take a pokemon with you out in the world and aid in Pokemon Go gameplay. If you’re not a PoGo fan, it basically just adds another dimension to the game, as you can use it as a joy-con to catch Pokemon and it’ll light up and make noise when you get a catch. Like the motion controls, it’s opt-in, so it won’t be getting in your way if it’s not your thing.

Con: From what we can tell in the trailer, pokemon catching will be a lot like in Pokemon Go. Instead of battling a pokemon to catch it, just flick your joy-con at it and hope for the best. The excitement of catching pokemon is a big part of the main series, and Let’s Go might feel a bit lacking when that’s not there. However, as long as there are trainers to fight and badges to earn and a Pokemon League to dominate, players will be able to keep themselves entertained.

EhPokemon Go integration. I played PoGo the summer it was out… and that’s about it. I know there have been updates to it, and plenty of people are still playing if you know where to look, but the massive playerbase it had that first four months has dropped immensely. Let’s Go feels at least in part an attempt to get some players back, and that might work… if it was released now. Releasing a month before winter starts isn’t going to get people back outside. Fortunately, like Pokeball Plus and the motion controls, it’s optional, but this feels more like an obligation to pick PoGo back up. To be honest, I much prefer the old pokewalker.

Pro: Best for last- it’s multiplayer. On the one hand, this could crash and burn if it’s one-sided like Odyssey, or has players tripping over each other or fighting for control of the screen, or literally ruins everything like Sonic Boom; but if it works then I’d be willing to let almost everything else slide. A concern I’ve seen is that it might make the game too easy, but let’s be honest, Pokemon has been getting easy. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care. If Let’s Go sees you and your best friend cracking open a few beers Arizona iced teas on the couch, running around Kanto together, racing each other through gyms or tag-teaming team rocket, this will be the spin off I’ve always wanted. We don’t see enough couch co-op these days, and once again, Nintendo’s coming through to keep it alive.

There you have it, some punk’s opinion on what they saw in a trailer. Respectfully disagree? Let us know on twitter or down below in the comments. Can’t get enough Pokemon? Here‘s a list of challenge runs I compiled. Lastly, of course, here’s the trailer:

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