Every time a new Pokémon game comes out you go through the same cycle. You buy it despite promising never to buy another one, you launch into it with enthusiasm and nostalgia, before the frustrations of the series that made you quit the other games come back with a vengeance. This is where Pokémon Let’s Go is completely different for me.
The first real game on the Switch Let’s go is a full remake of the original Red, Blue and Yellow versions that started the phenomenon. The visuals are fantastic and the battle scenes are the equivalent of old Pokken Tournament games but a simple look at the screenshots or box art will tell you this. What they don’t tell you is this game features an almost total removal of any form of grind. If that sounds like what put you off these games your whole life then finally this is the one for you.
Diving back into the Kanto region, you will begin by catching the Pokémon you have on the game version. Either traditional Pikachu or Eevee, being a traditionalist for me it was Pikachu since there is no Psyduck edition. After a quick naming of your rival and a pep talk from Professor Oak, you set off to the first gym and Brock and Geodude. Usually, you would have countless random battles every time you went into long grass or just walked off the beaten track. Not anymore, random battles are gone. You can see clearly all the Pokémon in the long grass and you can avoid them as you see fit. Even more streamlined is the catching process for wild Pokémon. No longer do you need to weaken them, simply walk into them and you are treated to the same animation and game as the Pokémon Go app on mobiles. A simple ball throw and they should be yours. Finally, you can just do this game without frustration.
The only battles you need to do are against other trainers and these are brilliantly animated. The Pokémon do the animations and faint before being retrieved to the trainer. It is almost like watching the old TV series all over again. This is simply a game that takes the casual, fun and addictive parts and makes the game all about them.
There are a few drawbacks to this new streamlined style. As mentioned before my favourite is Psyduck. Unfortunately, a Psyduck is hard to find early on and when you eventually come across the loveable little chap, your other Pokémon will be at a significantly higher level. It can then be hard to get your newly discovered or favourites up to the level they need to be to use them. The principle is the same, leave them in your party and let them level up as you go along, yet the great reduction in battles means that the XP earned is less. This is a small price to pay for enjoyment in the game and the ability to transfer across Pokémon you have found in the mobile game is a nice selling point. Suddenly all that time walking and hatching eggs in the real world pays off in Kanto.
Other than that there isn’t a lot to say about this game. It is as you remember it with all the traditional characters including Team Rocket and Professor Oak. As a stress-free nostalgia trip, it is second to none and just adds to the strong Switch line-up this season. You can also put a baseball cap on Pikachu. Game of the year right there.