Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! Review

Let's GO Pikachu

This is the fourth time I’ve left Pallet Town to explore Kanto. It’s the fourth time I’ve set out with the best intentions to catch ’em all. And it’s the fourth time I’ve used Pokémon that I hadn’t considered before. The fourth time…you get the idea.

From Blue to Yellow to LeafGreen, I’ve often overlooked just how much I must like the original Pokémon game and it’s central ideas. They keep remaking it and I keep coming back.

But this time it’s different. Pokémon has finally made the jump to a home console! People have bemoaned it for not the next ‘real’ entry,  but I’ve really enjoyed it.

A lot of my joy with Let’s Go has come from how I’ve been able to share the experience with my wife and daughter. Fortunately they’re both into Pokemon, so we’ve managed to get in nearly 50 hours as we’ve journeyed towards becoming the Pokemon League Champions. When you’re daughter points at her plush Pikachu and then at the TV, you know it’s time to play. I’ve also been asked several times by my wife, who has played on her own too. It may not be a true multiplayer experience (a second player dropping in makes things extremely easy), but we enjoyed it together.

Purely being able to see your team in 3D is great. Being able to use some of the mounts is even greater! I’ve spent many hours charging around on my Arcanine. It’s a great way to traverse the world and very immersive.

On the subject of traversal, put away your Bidoof, as HM’s are no more! Sort of. Moves such as Cut and Surf exist on their own menu now, and don’t take up valuable slots. It’s a mechanic that has been crying out for change and makes a big difference to your team.

Catching has changed too, taking a leaf out of the mobile game Pokemon GO. Rather than having to grind down health before catching, now you just throw. Using the Joy Con is intuitive, but I wouldn’t get too excited about the Pokeball peripheral; nice gimmick but it’s too small to use consistently we found. Between this, the HM mechanic the game, and being able to see wild creatures, the game is much more laid back.

The overall experience of Let’s Go Pikachu is just that bit more sensibly laid out and smoother than what we’ve had before. It’s not perfect but it makes some good steps in the right direction, resulting in a very pleasant play through that kept this experienced trainer invested, even fourth time around. To put a newer skin over an old body is one thing; to keep it feeling fresh is quite another.

Let’s Go gives me the perfect chance to share something I’ve long loved with my daughter, and that means a lot.

And yes, I’ve got a Squirtle in my team. Because he is the best.

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