Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu Review

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One of the biggest hits to ever find a release on Nintendo’s consoles has to be that of the Pokémon franchise. Their series of role-players have attracted a huge market and even encouraged a very devout following amongst gamers. It also has to be said that one of the most eagerly anticipated titles to come to the Nintendo Switch, probably second only to Super Smash Brothers, has to be that of a new Pokémon game. Well, with Smash only being around the corner, now seems as good a time as ever to revisit the Kanto region as Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee captures a release on the Switch.

Although essentially a re-imagining of Pokémon Yellow, the 1998 Game Boy title that was an already enhanced version of Red and Blue, the series’ first games, this new version of the game still incorporates all of the nostalgic elements that fans love, yet also contains a whole host of new features and changes that are sure to keep the most hardened Pokémon trainers happy for a long time to come. As well as now being able to interact with your Pokémon, this latest iteration within its series also boasts full connectivity to Go!, the mobile catching app, as well as an immersion with the new Pokéball accessory, sold separately, that mimics that actions of a real-life pokéball and acts as a controller at the same time.

If you’ve played the original versions, or DS and Gameboy games, within the Pokémon series, then the first thing that hits you with the Switch version is just how gorgeous and detailed the land of Kanto now looks. A complete high-definition overhaul now brings everything to life more than it has ever done before. It’s not just the graphical presentation either, it’s also the small details that adds further to the experience with posters, paintings and furnishings now adding new details to the interiors of buildings. Although this is a perfect recreation of the land we have known and loved over the years, its complete lick of paint now makes it look spanking new and a pleasure to explore once again.

The general premise of the game remains the same; becoming a Pokémon trainer and working through the gyms to become the champion trainer of Kanto. However, a few new elements have also been incorporated into the game. The first of these is in the way you now capture your Pokémon. It still contains the usual throwing of the Pokéball, something made even more immersive with the new controller. You can throw berries to keep certain species busy while you attempt to capture them, but as you aim with your ball, a ring appears that decreases in size; the smaller the ring when you throw your ball, the higher the chance to capture and the bigger your bonus will be in its successful execution.

In terms of your collection of Pokémon, there’s a lot more interaction with them now, with selected types that follow you around on-screen, or even hitch a ride on your shoulder. As well as this though, you can get up close and personal to your chosen Pokémon by feeding them and stroking them to increase your friendship levels with them. If playing in handheld mode, the touchscreen comes into its own here, as you tickle and play with your Pokémon; something that is sure to appeal to younger players. The biggest feature has to be the inclusion of a drop-in/drop-out multiplayer element though, meaning that you and a friend can explore the region of Kanto together and work co-operatively within battles.

One of the major appeals of this title, is simply running around and discovering everything that is new here. There are no more random encounters as such, as hidden Pokémon can now be seen rustling in the grass or hiding in the bushes, whilst others run wild within the forests and fields, allowing you to pick and choose your encounters; something that is particularly exciting when you are the hunt and see a new species that you may not have included into your Pokédex. There are so many elements that have been added or refined, that there’s simply too many to mention here. It does take some getting used to, especially if you’re an experienced player, but its mechanics soon develop into a feeling that you wonder how on earth you managed to cope without them before; making the game a much smoother experience.

However, saying that, a few of the changes that have been made, may not be to everyone’s liking. There’s a distinct lack of a hardcore role-playing element now, with much of the grinding from the previous series now removed for the sake of a more accessible and flowing style of play. It’s by no means a bad thing. In fact, my personal preference is that this has created a much more free-flowing style of game and one that is far more accessible and enjoyable; especially to younger players or newcomers to the series. There’s are so many refinements, that the omissions don’t really matter anyway. Let’s just say that if you thought Pokémon were cute before, then you’ll be absolutely smitten with these new HD and interactive versions.

Despite some of its hardcore elements being removed, this hasn’t affected the level of depth that is usually found within the series. The usual statistical information surrounding Pokémon still remains, as does the levelling up and evolutions. Keeping track of your Pokémon and their abilities has also been implemented here, allowing you to instantly work out which of your captured species are best for combat, without the need to trawl through endless tables and information on the internet. The further you delve into the game, the more it opens up to you, with gym and Pokémon levels providing literally hundreds of hours worth of gameplay. This is further enhanced by the ability to connect to the mobile app, Pokémon Go!, allowing you transfer your Pokémon into the game, as well as the usual online interactivity of trading and battling with other players around the world.

Overall, Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee are a superb addition to the Switch’s library. Their complete overhauls and re-imaginings of the series’ past have been beautifully realised here, presenting a whole new take on the classic games. Everything feels fresh and new and, along with a few new refinements, provides the most definitive version of Pokémon to date. Whether you play docked or handheld, the land of Kanto looks beautiful and technical performances are as silky smooth as the fur on Pikachu’s head. Whether you’re a newcomer to the series or an old-hand, there’s much to love here, from both a nostalgic view and taking in everything that’s new. If there are any downfalls, then it’s streamlined experience makes for a much simpler ride, but this in no way takes away from the enjoyment that this game provides. To put it in simple terms, once again we have another must-have title for the Switch and one that is sure to become a classic.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to press@4gn.co.uk.

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Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu Review
  • Gameplay - 9/10
  • Graphics - 9/10
  • Sound - 9/10
  • Replay Value - 9/10
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If you thought Pokémon were cute, then you’ll now be smitten as you explore the region of Kanto on your Nintendo Switch.

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