So this past Friday I got Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu and assumed I’d hate the game, given that it’s been simplified, reduced to mainly first gen, and had more of an emphasis on Pokemon GO dynamics, but willing to take my L, as I’ve taken quite a few this month, some more devastating than others, I must admit I quite enjoyed this game. And as I’m about to say that this game is good for casuals or good for a casual playthrough, I don’t mean it in a hardcore Pokemon fan type of way. It’s a relaxing casual game.
Sure the Pokemon in this game don’t have abilities which simplified it, but I had fun, and let’s start with what, for me, was my favorite part of the game: Pikachu. I for a while have been a fan of Pikachu, because as with many twenty something year olds, I grew up with the Pokemon anime. At first I was going to get Let’s Go, Eevee!, but with that version you can’t evolve your Eevee, there’s no hidden power (in either version), and Jolteon hadn’t been buffed, so I ended up with Pikachu and I fell in love. Maybe it’s because I’m currently gutted or on tilt (in life), but I needed Pikachu, who I nicknamed Chusuke. Adding features to make you attached to your starter mon really added a layer to this game. Chusuke, for the entire four days I played that game, the moment I added a little tuft of spikes to his fur, was my little boy. He was my favorite boy. Chusuke for best boy.
It was like having a pet. You get to pet him. You get to talk to him about your life problems even though he doesn’t exactly respond back. You can show your affection and feed him. Which sure you could do that since gen six, but this felt different. Maybe it was the point that he was always on my character’s shoulder or that I kept Chusuke in my party the entire game or…his tuft of spiked hair, but I felt attached to him. I checked on him the way 90s kids checked on the Tamagotchis and cycled him through little outfits the way obsessed contest dog owners would. But straying away from this point that might be more a matter of broken psyche than anything, let’s get to the gameplay which, while enjoyable, was concerning in other matters.
First off, let’s talk about the Pokemon GO centric features for this game. Now, what I loved was that you could see Pokemon in the overworld. It was great for dipping and dodging Pokemon I didn’t want (like almost all the mons). But…this game is focused mainly on catching mons. There were no wild battles, and with that gone, the main way your mons got exp was through trainer battles (which there aren’t enough to sustain a good amount of exp, and don’t yield much exp, so your mons will eventually be super underleveled by the midway point of the game) and by catching mons (especially catch combos), which is something I hate to do. When I play Pokemon, my style is to figure out my team, figure out where to find them, catch them, re-catch if they aren’t suitable natures, then catch nothing else the rest of the game and get by through grinding and/or strategy. So for the sake of this game not being unreasonable I caught a bunch of mons…and hated it. Not only for the point of catching just being against my nature, but also because of: MOTION CONTROLS.
Now there are plenty of ways to play this game. You can play it left handed (which I am) or right handed, you can play it docked, you can play it portable but with one joycon, or, as I later learned handheld. And don’t let anyone tell you that playing the game anyway besides handheld is the best way. See the problem with using a joycon for this game is that, while it’s okay when it comes to navigating through the game, when you get to the point of catching mons, the controls get real fucky. I threw pokeballs so many times, and the controls are so finicky that sometimes it would go the opposite direction of where I threw or it somehow be underthrown. Or when you throw the ball in the direction of the moving mon, but the ball just goes straight. What’s the point of that? With handheld mode you can use the analog stick to aim and you press A to throw. It’s wonderful.
Another problem I have with the catching aspect is that, it feels like, depending on how well you throw the ball the mon should get caught, but it doesn’t matter. A definition of frustration is when you throw an ultra ball at a Rhydon eight times with an excellent rating and it doesn’t go in, but then you throw a lame duck toss with nothing as a rating and boom, it’s caught. Like, that actually made me yell a few times while playing a game meant for children. Now I feel as though this would be a more enjoyable experience if this played out more like how Snorlax and legendaries went down where you caught them after knocking them out. This is better because, A) it’s like the anime and B) there’s something cathartic about KO-ing a wild mon. It’s just…I instinctively would switch the order of my team based off of the wild mons I saw walking/ running around, and I want to feel a point in doing that again. And just improve the catch chances so people aren’t throwing seven balls to catch a not that worth it mon.
Then there’s the point that while the game is enjoyable, it was just too easy. Beating trainers, even when underleveled, wasn’t difficult. And the AI played predictably, which is not really a problem since, once again, this was meant for kids, but this game made me feel like a pro battler instead of a low to mid ladder Showdown player, and that’s saying something. There were some hard reads going on against my rival (who I named Koala, cause I was named Wallaby) and they were disgustingly easy. So if there was an added option for difficulty, that’d be great.
Lastly, I just wish there was actual after game, while I understand that this is a remake of Yellow, it’d still be great for there to be post game content, because I’m literally forcing myself to touch the game after beating it, but I really don’t have anything to do. And though I’ve made an onslaught of criticisms, when I played the game, I had a great time. It’s a charming spinoff for the series and a great entry for newcomers or thirty year old genwunners who feel like re-kindling their love for mons.
I leave you with the newest trailer for KHIII because nothing will ever halt my hype for this one thing I care far too much about. Later days.