The latest installment of the Pokemon franchise has left many of us wondering whether the game is worth purchasing. The game certainly offers a great deal to both older and younger fans alike, however there are certain aspects of the game that irk players who are used to a particular type of gaming experience. This article addresses the excitement and the concerns surrounding Pokemon: Let’s Go, and evaluates who the game is most designed for. We set out to determine if Pokemon: Let’s Go is worth buying.
Since the release of the original Pokemon Red and Blue some 22 years ago, almost every gamer has longed for the release of a 3D Pokemon game that further the immersion of the game with better animations and graphics. Pokemon: Let’s Go truly delivers on this pipedream, giving audiences an opportunity to experience Pokemon in an entirely new light. For those who have been playing Pokemon since the mid-1990s, Pokemon: Let’s Go offers an incredible nostalgic experience of reliving the classic Pokemon game with better visuals and stream-lined gameplay. Even something as trivial as visiting a Pokemon Center or walking through grass is enjoyable with the stunning new design and movement, and the actual battles, with wonderfully animated abilities, are delightful. Indeed, one of the best parts of the entire game is simply observing the Pokemon themselves as they walk about the world, as the scale and size of the Pokemon make them immeasurably more real. Similar to how Pokemon Stadium breathed life into the black and white blurs with names that occupied the first generation of games, Pokemon: Let’s Go is beautiful and animated.
In terms of gameplay, Pokemon: Let’s Go has made a number of quality of life improvements from the original first generation games. Random encounters, for example, are no longer present in the game, which instead requires you to make physical contact with the Pokemon walking around the world. This not only allows the player to more specifically select the Pokemon they want to catch, especially for the purposes of filling out the Pokedex, but also enables the player to move through the game at their own pace and on their own terms. Likewise, catching Pokemon has been simplified, as the old system of weakening wild Pokemon and then attempting to catch them has been replaced entirely with the Pokemon Go interface. The player still receives experience for these encounters, but no longer has to worry about accidently causing excessive damage to a rare Pokemon, or having it run away before it can be caught.
The most significant drawback to Pokemon: Let’s Go is its lack of challenge and competitiveness. The original games, and later generations, may have been tedious at times, but there was a difficulty associated with the unpredictability of the game that allowed for the development of skill. Many first attempts of getting through the first cave in Pokemon Red or Blue, for example, were unsuccessful because of a failure to account for the damage your Pokemon would endure from excessive random encounters, either because of a lack of preparation in acquiring potions or from getting lost in the labyrinth of the map itself. This created a sense of accomplishment when taking more care later in the game. Likewise, catching Pokemon was, in previous games, a risky endeavor, where weakening the wild Pokemon had to be balanced with the hit points of your own Pokemon as well as the very real possibility of mortally injuring the target Pokemon and, therefore, losing the option to capture it. Patience and finesse were required for successful Pokemon hunting, and the player did, in fact, get better at the practice as the game progress.
These changes clearly reflect the intention to make Pokemon: Let’s Go more accessible to a younger audience unfamiliar with the rigorous grinding and high-stakes encounters present in traditional JRPGs. This is also true regarding the controls and the system itself, which requires the use of small, overly simplistic controllers to play the game.
Pokemon: Let’s Go is an excellent game by almost any standard, and certainly offers the nostalgia older player are looking for. The game, however, has lost much of its edge, and is much easier, and simpler, than previous iterations. Ultimately, then, the game is absolutely worth getting if you can accept and play the game on its own terms, letting go of decades long expectations and instead enjoying an exceptional stand-alone game.