E3 2018: Hands on with Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu & Let’s Go Eevee
There is always quite a lot of excitement whenever a new Pokémon game is announced, but for all the hype they get, there is always a group of people that basically demand, “What about my home console version?” Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee are aiming to fill both gaps it seems.
The game was playable on the show floor at E3 2018, but it was only playable with standard controllers in the media section. I was lucky enough to play the game with the new Pokéball Plus controller, which was very cool, but also highlighted how basic the game is going to be. Getting it out of the way first, the Pokéball Plus is tiny, only slightly larger than a Golf ball, it is nowhere near as large as you might be thinking. I think this is about the only time I can say, thank goodness for the wrist strap because, without it, I would be worried about losing it. The controller itself contains only one physical button and one stick, but that also acts as a button when pressed down, meaning you have two buttons and a stick to play with.
Moving is done with the stick, clicking the stick down is your A button, with the giant button as your B; that is the controls, simple yes, but not all of them. The part of the game that I was allowed to play, had me roaming through the Viridian Forest, scattered amongst the trees and grass were lots of wild Pokémon and a few trainers. By now you should be aware that it contains the basic Pokémon — Pidgey, Caterpie and such — but what was interesting is that they are now visible on the map. No longer do you need to wander through the grass, in the hopes of triggering a visit from a random Pokémon. The odd part is that whenever you enter a space where there are now, they all appear with a strange blue warping effect around them and at one point, I had a half dozen of them appear all at once.
Wandering around is all well and good, but the battles is where it’s at — literally, as regular wild Pokémon battles are not the same and as always, there are countless kids in the woods collecting bugs. Joining battles is as easy as ever, as I was playing with Pikachu, he was the Pokémon that went out first, then the other trainer threw out their Pokémon of choice, a few attacks later and I was the winner. The attacks played out much like they did in Sun and Moon, where you got a lot of flashes, but very little happened from the Pokémon themselves. Still, it’s much more impressive than they used to be.
Outside of the battles, all I was able to do was some exploration and catch new Pokémon. The exploring was the part that I enjoyed the most, because not only did I have Pikachu on my shoulder, as he does (Eevee rides on your head), I had a Charmander walking behind me. You can now have any additional Pokémon from your party follow behind you, and the Nintendo rep on hand did point out that some can be ridden, like Onyx in the announcement trailer. Walking around and having Charmander follow me, whilst Pikachu rode on my shoulder, was something that I don’t think I could ever get bored of watching, though I hope to achieve greatness by having a Zapdos slowly flying behind me one day.
Where the game felt stupid to me — and I use that word because it is — was catching Pokémon. Now, there is no just battling wild Pokémon, if you enter into a ‘battle’ with one, then you can either catch it or run away. Avoiding them is easy enough, though at one point, whilst trying to avoid a Pidgey and a Ratata, I walked into a Metapod, there were just so many in the grass, it was hard to get around them all. The problem is, capturing them is too easy; all I had to do was throw a berry at them, which made them happy, it changed the ever-shrinking circle to green and when it got to the centre, throwing a Pokéball resulted in a capture each time.
There was no requirement for me to attack the Pokémon or anything, just give it a berry and I was good to go. That being said, as I was using the Pokéball Plus, I was throwing my arm, like I was throwing a real-life Pokéball, which was cool. But I did also manage to overthrow the ball, missing the Pokémon completely, so there is a little challenge there, however, when doing a simple throw, it landed every time.
As the build only allowed me to wander the forest, I can’t talk about the rest of the game, but given how they have ‘streamlined’ capturing Pokémon, I don’t think anything too drastic will take place here. While the battling was fun, capturing Pokémon was not so much, though perhaps the full game will add more to do and experience.