Friday
Dec212018

Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! Review

I've always been this slight Pokemon fan. I've always had the desire to collect things and that's really what you do in Pokemon... oh and you get to battle with those that you catch, what could be better? Well... It turns out that the monotonous droning of grind and just missing out on rare Pokemon 9 out of 10 times say every iteration I bought go to the gaming shelf never to return. The thing that immediately made Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! (There's also an Eve version, BTW) was that it was on the Switch and not on a GameBoy (or what is now called DS). Now you couple that with the fact that there is going to be some sort of interaction with the mobile game, Pokemon Go!, I had to jump into it. 

This isn't the first time I've made a decision on a Pokemon game based on some sort of connectivity feature. I did, once upon a time, bought and played Pokemon HeartGold, a game that connected to a glorified pedometer (a step counter). Even though the approach was different and interesting after a little bit of time this game also found the shelf. This integration/coupling between the Switch game and the mobile game immediately presented advantages to the Switch game experience. The advantage was that you could catch Pokemon in the mobile app and transfer them to the Switch game. This allowed for an increased arsenal of potentially deadly Pokemon, which will never be a bad thing.

There was a feature that the Switch game did take from the mobile game and that was the catching of the Pokemon mechanic. In previous iterations of the Pokemon franchise you would encounter random battles while walking around. Most of the time you're probably going to face off against Pokemon you just want to quickly dispatch so you can go about your day, but there are those instances where you finally run into a Pokemon that you desire, and then you are presented with a new problem. In order to capture Pokemon you needed to first battle them with your assortment of Pokemon and knock their health down to as close to zero as possible without actually getting there. The reason behind it was that if a Pokemon is injured it’s much easier to catch. The thing is, though, that I can't tell you how many times I hit a little too hard and defeated the Pokemon without ever getting a chance to catch it, and then I would spend up to an hour wading through battles that I didn't care about to get another chance at that Pokemon. As you might have guessed this was not entertaining to me and was one of the chief reasons why all my previous Pokemon games ended up being put away, I just couldn't deal with the pressure of trying to find that perfect storm-like attack that would give me that ability to catch all the Pokemon.

The mechanic that the Switch game took from the mobile game is that when it comes to capturing Pokemon you're going to see what Pokemon are around and select which ones you're going to try to capture. Once they are selected you're taken into what amounts to a mini-game, where you're going to be trying to toss Pokeballs at the Pokemon and hope that your throw will hit the Pokemon and then that the ball will be able to hold until the Pokemon is fully captured. This allowed for power leveling certain Pokemon in my group without having to worry about missing out on capturing a rarer Pokemon. It also allowed me to pick and choose which ones I wanted to go after instead of having to deal with battle after battle against Pokemon I had no interest in. Sure there's a good level of frustration when it comes to this new way of catching Pokemon, chief among them is the fact that if you over-throw or under-throw the Pokeball you lose it. There's no retrieve and try again mechanic, so you're going to have to keep a close eye on how many you have in your inventory. There is, thankfully, different types of Pokeballs which give you different levels of success as well as increase your chance of capturing Pokemon of a higher level.

Now that I've basically over-explained all that, lets actually get into the game, shall we? You will start off in a small town where you have the desire to become a Pokemon Trainer. You will also discover that you're best friend wants to be a Pokemon Trainer too, and so you both pledge to be the best of the best and push each other to be greater (you know the usual cliché). To truly start you on your journey you're going to be gifted your first Pokemon (this is a mechanic that has been the same in every iteration), however instead of choosing between a couple of Pokemon you're going to be given a specific Pokemon. If you are playing the Pikachu version, that's who you are going to start off with, if you have the Eve version, well I think you know what that means. 

Once you have your first Pokemon you are off to try to defeat all 8 gym masters of different cities to show how awesome you are so that you can enter the Pokemon League and take on the 4 strongest trainers of all. Each gym leader has a preferred type of Pokemon (i.e. Fire, Water, Poison, etc) so you'll have to capture a variety of Pokemon so that you can outmatch those trainers. You see one of the mechanics within this franchise is that there are certain types that are stronger against other types, and if you accidentally choose a Pokemon that is weak in type to your opponent's you will lose your Pokemon rather quickly.

The thing is that with not having to really worry about luck of the draw on what Pokemon you'll have a chance to catch I was able to really focus on my exact team make up. At its max you're going to be able to bring in 6 Pokemon into battle that you'll be able to use, in most situations, on a one by one basis. Once I had, what I thought, was my "Dream Team" I was able to focus on leveling them up as much as possible so that I would have the advantage in any battle, be it in the gym or against trainers scattered across the world. The final results of this ability is that I actually enjoyed playing through the game, and when I mean through the game, I mean that for the FIRST TIME EVER I actually played until completion. I don't know about most of you, but that type of accomplishment, at least for me, is huge. So at this point I pretty sure it’s clear to all that I enjoyed the crap out of this game, and I can honestly recommend it to anyone out there who likes that type of genre, and is looking for a solid game. 

 

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