Nostalgia Reimagined: Let’s Go, Pikachu!

So over Thanksgiving, my husband and I binge-played Let’s Go, Pikachu! while eating leftover pizza instead of enjoying the classic turkey dinner with family because who actually wants to fly 3000 miles back home over the holiday season? Certainly not me!

As kids, we loved our first generation Pokémon games/cartoons. As adults, we love seeing the franchise kept alive through modernization. Sure our beloved Pikachu has lost some weight over the years, but the premise remains the same: catch Pokémon, raise them through battle, earn badges by defeating gym leaders, defeat the Elite Four, and become a Pokémon Master. Through updated graphics and storylines, we’re able to relive a piece of our childhood over and over through new games.

Bring on Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Evee!

Promo Art for Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Evee!

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Evee! are remakes based off of Pokémon Yellow, a special edition version of Pokémon Red and Blue where the player’s starter Pokémon is automatically a Pikachu instead of having the choice between Charmander, Squirtle, and Bulbasaur like in the other versions. (I chose to go with the Pikachu version because I remember watching the original anime series as a kid and wishing I had my own Pikachu to ride on my shoulders wherever I went.) Nintendo even has a Pokéball controller that you can use to play and catch ’em all! Additionally, the newest renditions in the series allow for a second player to join in and assist the main trainer in battle and adds to the success rate of catching wild Pokémon when the Pokéballs are thrown in sync. That’s where I come in!

At first, I figured I would play the game myself, but looking at my husband whose very first Nintendo game happened to be Pokémon Blue, I figured he would have more fun being the main player so I conceded the Switch to him out of love. (You’re welcome, babe.) And so far, we’ve been having a blast!

In-game screenshot of two players defeating an NPC trainer in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!

Seeing the Kanto region come alive in 3D graphics rather than 2D black and white with a tint of color was like candy to our eyes. Unlike the old version, there’s a sense of spacial awareness and size that we didn’t get because of the graphical limitations of the Game Boy. Pokémon that were just small pixels in the past became ginormous 20-foot-tall monsters! (You can even ride on a few of them to make travel faster!) The catching mechanics also make the game a bit less tedious than the old versions because instead of the normal turn-based fighting style Pokémon is known for, the developers decided to use the Pokémon Go method of just aiming the ball within a circle that diminishes in size; the smaller the circle when the ball is thrown, the higher the chance of successfully catching the Pokémon. Yet battles with the NPC trainers are still the classic turn-based strategy we know and love, which keeps the game feeling less stale/grindy with both mechanics implemented together.

I think the biggest downfall of the game is how easy it is now. Sure we were kids when we played first played Pokémon games, but honestly it seems like a young child now could just mash buttons on the controller and still win because of how many resources are thrown at the player. My husband and I were basically mowing down anything the NPCs threw at us. (My husband didn’t even actually need me in battle with how overpowered his Pikachu was! I was just there for the quality time together.) We constantly had in-game currency to spend on fluff items like hipster glasses for our Pikachu since we didn’t have much else to spend it on because of how many potions and what-not could be found for free just by exploring. (I wish free [useful] stuff just popped out of nowhere in real life!) It’s also easy to avoid unwanted Pokémon encounters because you can see what’s prowling out there now instead of having to use a repel to keep unseen Pokémon away. As the second player, I can even run over the Pokémon, as well, which stops them from touching the main player. This game is just way too convenient!

Next time, I hope Nintendo implements an optional “expert” level of difficulty for fans who are already hardened trainers who want to experience the same difficulty level of the original games. All that would need to change would be significantly increasing the the number and level of Pokémon the NPCs have in each area and reducing the rewards/freebies within the game. (Game Freak, if you’re seeing this, please take note!)

A comparison of the same area between the old and new versions

Though overly simplified, the game is fun overall, and the world is explorable down to the smallest patch of tall grass. The game is especially engaging with a friend (or in my case, by husband) because you can play together and share the wonderful world of Pokémon with someone other than your main Pokémon companion. I’d recommend Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Evee! to anyone wanting to try out a Pokémon game for the first time or to anyone wanting to relive their childhood Pokémon fantasies despite being an easy game because of how much fun it is to just run around and discover the different areas and Pokémon within the game. Now the question is: do you want an unevolvable Pikachu or and unevolvable Eevee hitching a ride on you at all times?

According to my best friend, if you absolutely must have a flower crown on your main companion Pokémon, you need to go with the Eevee version because apparently the game’s programmers didn’t want Pikachu to wear one for whatever reason. You’re welcome.


P.S. All this talk of nostalgia has me excited for the upcoming Eevee Tamagotchis!

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