Bottom line: It's basically a simplified version of the first Pokémon game with a few Pokémon-Go-inspired gimmicks fused into it. Being able to bond with your preferred starter and experience the Kanto region with updated graphics is a nostalgic experience.
Fun Pokémon bonding activities
Supports two players
Adorable art style
Easier shiny hunting
Very few wild Pokémon battles
Some aspects are too simple
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I first learned about Pokémon in elementary school after hearing two classmates argue about whether Raichu or Electabuzz was the better Electric-type Pokémon. It didn't take long before my parents bought my brothers Pokémon Blue and Pokémon Red, respectively, and then gave me Pokémon Yellow. I absolutely love those games and have played them more times than I know along with every subsequent Pokémon game since through Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Fast forward 20 years later and Pokémon has developed into the highest-grossing media franchise in the world instead of simply being a passing trend. To celebrate, Game Freak released Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! on Nintendo Switch in 2018. While you do travel around the original games' Kanto region and only encounter the first 151 Pokémon, this is not a remaster. For one thing, these Switch games employ a catching style reminiscent of Pokémon Go's mechanics. On top of that, you don't get to choose the original starters in this very simplified version of the original games.
Long-time Pokémon fans might miss the wild encounter battles and a few other aspects, but the nostalgia that comes with playing through these games is real. Similarly, the simplified experience makes it easier for newcomers to dive in to the world of Pokémon without feeling lost. What's more, since the game supports two players, a veteran can easily help a beginner trainer explore Kanto as they travel along together. Or if you're like my husband and I, you can pick up one version and a buddy can pick up another and then you can swap later.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! What I like
|Title||Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! / Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee!|
|Developer||Game Freak Inc.|
|Genre||Adventure, Role-Playing, Multiplayer|
|Players||Up to 2|
From the minute you turn on a new Let's Go game, the cutesy graphics and vibrant visuals will sway you over. Seriously, my Switch hadn't been running for two minutes before I started squeeing at the darling Eevee and Pikachu imagery. From that point on I found myself cooing over my starter's adorable reactions to just about everything.
Depending on the version you get, Pikachu or Eevee will be your strong-willed starter who you can dress up and play with throughout your journey. Instead of staying in their Poké Balls, these two remain visible in the overworld wherever you go. You can also have any other Pokémon in your party trail after you in addition to your starter. And don't worry, you can have both a Pikachu and an Eevee in your party, since both Pokémon appear in the wild later on. Any Pikachu or Eevee you catch later on just won't act like the special starter.
The Nostalgia Bucket loads of charm
Newcomers and those who have been out of the Pokémon loop for a few years will likely enjoy Let's Go as a gradual way to get back into the games. The Pokédex only has slots for the first 151 Pokémon from Gen 1, so you'll start off with what you're already familiar with. This also keeps the type system from getting too complicated for newcomers who are unfamiliar with Pokémon's current combat system. As expected, some of the Pokémon are exclusive to one game or the other, so you'll have to trade with someone who has the other version in order to complete your Pokédex.
You'll also face off against all of the original gym leaders, including Brock and Misty. And of course, Team Rocket is up to their old tricks with Jesse and James popping up throughout the land. This addition makes the games feel even more like a Pokémon Yellow remake. It's really hard not to feel the pull of enchanting familiarity as you see these gorgeous renditions of an 8-bit game you played as a child.
New mechanics Motion controls, rides, and Secret Techniques
As I mentioned before, you no longer fight every wild Pokémon you encounter. Taking cues from Pokémon Go, the Let's Go games have you either press a button or move your Joy-Con in a throwing motion when it comes time to toss a Poké Ball. If you throw your Poké Ball at the right moment when the ring around the targets face gets smaller, you'll be more likely to catch it and receive better bonuses. I personally found the motion controls a bit wonky here so I preferred playing in handheld mode since aiming and throwing was a lot easier that way.
One of the things I love the most is being able to ride some of my favorite Pokémon, like Arcanine, Charizard, or Onix. There are 19 Pokémon you can ride and they move faster than if you were to walk around on your own. The trade off is that there aren't any bicycles in the game. But, for me, riding atop my favorite beasts is way better than peddling on my own.
In addition to catching mechanics, Instead of teaching various Pokémon traditional moves like Cut, Fly, and Surf, I was suprised to discover that the starter Pokémon learns Secret Techniques, which basically are the same things. When a tree blocks your way, Pikachu will chop it down. Need to fly to a different city? Eevee will pull out a strange balloon contraption for you to travel in. I wasn't sure how I felt about this as first, however, I've since determined that these mechanics make your special starter a little more endearing as the game goes on.
Double the fun 2 player mode
By handing a Joy-Con to someone else, the two of you can explore Kanto and catch Pokémon together. Player 1 has full control of menus and whether or not they leave an area. Player 2 cannot pass through doors on their own, but they can run around the overworld and help throw a Poké Ball at a Pokémon. There are even catching bonuses for those moments when Player 1 and Player 2 successfully throw their Poké Balls at the proper time. These mechanics make the Let's Go games great to share with younger Pokémon fans or those who don't feel video game savvy.
Shiny hunting Spot them in the overworld
Shiny Pokémon, or alternately colored Pokémon, have been around since Pokémon Gold and Silver, but its been a little more recently that the fan base really started to understand what made these encounters more likely. In the Let's Go games, if players catch 25+ of the same Pokémon in a row, their chances of getting shiny Pokémon goes up significantly.
Additionally, this is currently the only game that allows you to tell if a Pokémon is shiny in the overworld. Granted, catching shinies can still take hours, but it's nice being able to do it a little easier with Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Make sure you transfer them into Pokémon Home once you've acquired them.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! What I don't like
While charm seriously eminates from every section of this game, there are a few things that I didn't like about it.
Barely any wild Pokémon battles I feel incomplete
It's a little weird that I can run around these familiar locations and encounter wild Pokémon without really being able to battle any of them. Now, true battles do exist at the varoius gyms or with special Pokémon like the Snorlax blocking my way, but I really miss grinding to make my party stronger. The experience just isn't the same when all of your Pokémon share XP simply for being in your party after you've successfully thrown a Poké Ball at something.
Going along with the sentiment above, the Let's Go games feel a little too simple. It matches the watered-down Pokémon encounters, I guess. But, if you're looking for a challenging game, this isn't it.
Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! Should you play them?
Pokémon is one of those special franchises. Even when the games aren't designed the way fans like, they'll still buy a copy. Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! might not be as in-depth as the core Pokémon RPGs, however, they are very nostalgic and provide new experiences that we haven't seen before. Most importantly, they're still fun to play even if they aren't like the core games.
If you've been a Pokémon fan for several years and want to introduce Pokémon to a friend or your kids, this is an excellent title to start with. Alternately, if you played the original games as a kid but haven't played much since, this game is incredibly easy to get into and will seriously give you a trip down memory lane.
Explore a reimagined Kanto game
Travel around the same region as the first Pokémon game with either Pikachu or Eevee as your starter. You'll thwart Team Rocket's evil plan as you fight your way through every gym and fill your Pokédex.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.