Pokemon Let’s Go was probably the most expected Pokemon game since the very first one of the saga. That being said, once players realised that it was a mix of Pokemon RPG and Pokemon Go, they suddenly began to feel it wasn’t their Pokemon game. Today I will discuss some of the design flaws and improvements of Let’s Go towards the Pokemon saga.
The most important thing that this game is a direct appeal to the feelings, specifically the nostalgia of childhood playing black-green on the Game Boy. This is a huge way to create a perfect bond game-player. Reliving all the Kanto region once again, exactly as it was in 96 (JP) and 98 (for other countries), with an alive-looking environment as Pokemon roam around you.
There are some differences, tho. They had an amazing game design team behind to decide what to change and what not to, from the world design to the core mechanics (something we will discuss later on), as it seems they edited it with a scalpel.
A few of the dialogues with NPCs have been changed to include self-promotion (as it has been done always on Pokemon) to the Nintendo Switch and Pokemon Go. And also an inappropriate phrase by an old man (pederasty is a tough matter in Japan, but now all societies are gaining more consciousness on it).
They have also included Jessie and James accordingly to the Pokemon TV Show. What’s more, they even talk at some point about the connectivity between Switch and Phone, precisely delivered when you can unlock it and send Pokemon to you Switch through Pokemon Go. And this is a super-cool addition! Even if you don’t have Pokemon Go nor plans to play it, we should agree that removing Safari Zone was a must. I’m not being animal-friendly here -Pokemon is just a fantasy- but throwing rocks to Pokemon to capture them was core-breaking on the original game. Besides that, now you can take a small walk in a park where you send those Pokemon on your phone to your Switch!
As for the core mechanics, there is a lot to say. First, let’s talk about the fight-capture method. Pokemon has ALWAYS been about fighting and using several tactics to lower enemy’s Pokemon health in order to capture it. By breaking this core mechanic they just removed half of its essence, and they tore apart the fanbase. Despite that, Legendary Pokemon were made into a mix of the two mechanics: Pokemon and Pokemon Go. First you weaken them completely, and then you can try to capture it on GO’s method. Still, it’s just 6 Pokemon with this type of capture -Snorlax too-. Although, let’s not forget that this is not the Pokemon RPG core they will deliver to Switch, it will be -luckily without delays- on 2019.
Therefore, all the wild Pokemon you encounter will have only the “Capture” phase Pokemon GO style. How did they solve the RPG part with this new core mechanic? Easy, they grant you XP for each capture. So, if you want to grind levels for your Pokemon you need to capture as many as you can. We could say then, despite there are fights with Gym Leaders and Trainers, this Pokemon game is not about fighting but capturing.
A secondary mechanic improved is that they made it easier for you to know when you’re on a strike chain to increase the shiny chance! I do think that some other secondary mechanics around capturing system have indeed been a great improvement. For example, the new IV Judge system -now on the go, not a standing NPC.
They also changed some secondary mechanics for a good. They made that Pokemon can get out of Pokeball if you select them. You can ride some big Pokemon, other just follow you and tell you where hidden objects are. This way they enhance the fun on the player. Who didn’t want to ride an Onix or an Arcanine on a Pokemon game, not just the pre-made bicycle Tauros we saw on Pokemon Sun/Moon?
On Pokemon Let’s Go we can see a new improvement of the Hidden Machines (HM). As we’ve seen several editions back, these movements could be erased by and NPC so you didn’t have to stick to those on your main Pokemon, and later on they delivered a visual upgrade so players felt like riding their Pokemon while using Surf or Fly. But now, they improved way more: Eevee and Pikachu, our main Pokemon on this two editions, can learn ALL the HM, and not just that but they learn it without erasing any other movement, like a separate ability. How did they solve the problem with Eevee and Pikachu not being able to fly physically? Easy, they use a machine an engineer gives us at some point of the game. How does Eevee or Pikachu use Flash? Easy, they super-focus and they let you see through fog or darkness. Hum… well, that one is just some Pokemon magic as well.
Last but not least, they added co-op multiplayer! This way they reach those little ones, specially, who want to play with their parents. This is a great addition: one player has the full permissions such as engaging combats, talking to npc, etc. while the other just follows and if he/she gets out of sight they can shake again the joy-con and rejoin the scene. A perfect way of making those younger little fellows to have fun with us! Problem about this? You can trick the system and duel 2vs1 to all Trainers and Gym Leaders (also League) on your own. But it’s up to you to cheat!
In the end, we can see a new Pokemon game, with a pretty important flaw on its core mechanics, but well compensated with some good points. I strongly believe they will try it again in a couple of years with Gold/Silver, but maybe they just stick to the RPG core Pokemon games with the improved mechanics and aesthetics. But, will there be a Pokemon game hard or that takes longer to complete? Who knows