Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!
One of the most anticipated games of the year brings back the nostalgia of the Game Boy Classic Pokemon Yellow version to the Nintendo Switch. It was one of my favorite games growing up as a kid on the Game Boy, so I had to give it a quick playthrough. I let my wife customize her own character and play it since she's never seen any of the older iterations of this game.
For those who played enough of the originals, you’ll practically be able to go through the entire game based off memory and still know your way around. On the one hand, this feels at times a bit sad because it lacked the sense of surprise and wonder of a new game, but that familiarity made the small changes that do exist in some areas interesting and notable. The cryptic nature of puzzles from the older titles have been dumbed down a bit and there is generally an easier or less fussy nature to the game as a whole, which makes sense as veterans who may crave the difficulty know all the answers already and for new players, it’s an entirely accessible experience.
I'm also a fan of how they incorporated the mobile game's catch style into the gameplay. As you encounter wild Pokemon, it will switch to a “Pokemon Go” style catch screen where players need to toss a ball for a chance at catching.
When you’re exploring the world and battling creatures against each other, Pokémon Let’s Go plays just like Red, Blue and Yellow did on the Game Boy. But catching creatures now works like it does in Pokémon Go. Instead of tramping about in patches of grass hoping to find rare creatures, you can see them frolicking around and chase the ones you want to catch. Instead of battling a wild Pokémon until it’s weak, you simply throw Pokéballs to capture it.
You don’t have to battle Pokémon to catch them. You just have to be good at throwing a PokéBall, and you earn experience through catching alone. Most of the grinding you do—and you probably won’t do very much of it—is through catching Pokémon, especially catching multiples of the same kind of creature. You get an experience bonus if you’re on a streak of catching the same Pokémon over and over.
In Let’s Go, old characters from the first game show up; one of them becomes a sort of mentor to your player character and their rival. I could see myself taking that place, someday sharing Pokémon with my kids. There’s also Professor Oak, who serves here, as always, in an almost parental role to the player character. When I defeated the Elite Four and became Pokémon Champion, Professor Oak told me I had turned into a fine young woman.
That’s when I started reminiscing about the good old days. A character from my childhood, a sometimes lonely childhood where my relationship to Pokémon was what kept me going, had reached out from the past to tell me that things would change, but ultimately for the better. These are things like this game that I wished I had in the past, but that I’m older, I’m just happy I can share this age old experience with someone else like my wife.