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Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee Preview November 10, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Previews.
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Early this morning we had the pleasure to take part in the Pokémon Let’s Go Road Trip. Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have been driving across the US making stops in several major cities with the intention to offer live previews of Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee! We received a live demo of both games and got a closer look at the new Poké Ball Plus controller. What did we think? Read and find out.

Before we start to talk about the games I want to talk a bit about the exclusive controller that is being designed for these games, The Pokéball Plus controller. Sadly, we couldn’t get any pictures of it, but the Pokéball Plus is slightly smaller than I expected it to be. That all said, its weight still felt comfortable in my hand. It has a thumbstick on its face that has a nearly identical look and feel to the left analog stick from a GameCube Controller. Pressing the center thumbstick inwards acts as the controller’s A button. Pushing the top lid of the ball inwards acts as the B button. It also has motion sensors and HD rumble. As a sphere, it can be difficult to know which way is up but I can tell you it has to be oriented with the red top facing the television to function properly. Nintendo expects players to be able to play the entire game with the Plus Controller if they choose to do so, but it can also be played with traditional Joy-Con controllers in whichever configuration the player wishes.

We played both the Pikachu and Eevee versions of the demo and we will talk about the differences bereeen the two as they are relevant. We did not get to demo either game in tablet mode (although we can confirm the game does support tablet mode), so this write-up is based entirely on what we saw on the Samsung HDTVs the Demo Units were connected to.

The demo for both games started as we took control of Trainer Green at the entrance of the Veridian Forest. In both cases Pikachu and Eevee were dressed in cosplay wearing costumes and hats that matched the clothes their trainer was wearing. We were given instructions from Professor Oak to explore the forest and do everything we could in it. The forest environment was absolutely beautiful. Its layout was pretty close to my memory of Pokémon Yellow, but it’s graphics were of a level all its own. Game Freak was clearly going for a stylized look that matched the 3D environments I remembered in the Generation 6 and 7 Pokémon games, only this time they were in Full HD 1080p.

Players of Pokémon X and Pokémon Y might remember one of the first forest environments you encountered in those games. Their layout was actually taken from Generation 1’s Veridian City map, but most players couldn’t tell due to the game’s updated graphics. Playing in this environment felt like I was replaying that section from X and Y, only now I could play it at a smooth framerate in Full HD. Game Freak needs to be commended for the fact they were able to recreate their art style despite all the new pixels offered by the Nintendo Switch.

There were three things you could do in the demo. Navigate, battle and capture. We are going to talk about navigation first. The player moves around the environment by using the controller’s analog thumbstick. The player can move diagonally and will walk faster depending on how far away from the center the thumbstick is moved. If you encounter an item on the ground, you can pick it up by moving next to it and pushing the A button. Pokémon battles can start by crossing a rival trainer’s path. Pokémon captures can be triggered by walking up to a wild Pokémon in the game world. We did not get to experience the two-player couch co-op mode, so we can’t comment on it even though players will be able to slip into two-player at the game’s launch.

Battling has not changed much in this game from previous ones. Just like in previous games, you’ll find rival Pokémon trainers standing around throughout the game environment. Cross their path and it’ll trigger a Pokémon battle. Our Pikachu or Eevee came out to battle first, but the player can still keep six Pokémon on their active roster as usual. The battle menu is almost exactly the same as it has been in previous games, you have as many as four attacks to choose from, you can use an item, or you can swap out your battling Pokémon for a different one in your active roster. That all having been said, your starter Pokémon, be they Eevee or Pikachu, will come with some special attacks you have never seen before. Eevee, even though it hadn’t been evolved, knew a fire-type move that was utterly devastating against bug-type Pokémon. Pikachu knew a special move that allowed it to attack while floating from several balloons. Players of Pokémon Snap will certainly appreciate that one. Winning the Pokémon battle will earn you the usual extra money, but it can also earn you some free in-game items like extra Pokéballs.

Capturing is probably the one staple mechanic of Pokémon that is most changed by this game. First off, you will not encounter random Pokémon simply “hiding” in tall grass, every Pokemon you encounter in open environments can be seen on screen and even avoided. This makes random encounters a billion times more manageable, because you’ll know what you’ll be encountering before the capture menu comes up. When the menu fires up, you’ll see the Pokémon you’re attempting to capture with a circle around it. Players of Pokémon Go may find themselves at home with this interface. Simply select you’re ready, and when the timing with the circle is best, move your controller forward as if you are actually throwing a real Pokéball at the screen. We only attempted this with the Pokéball Plus and can’t comment on how this action feels with other controllers. The motion takes some getting used to, but eventually it will become a second nature to the player. You can’t weaken wild Pokémon but if you want, you can feed the wild Pokémon a berry, or use Ultra Balls for an easier capture. A nice touch Game Freak added is that during the capture process, the Plus controller will flash the exact same colors as the active Pokéball on the screen. Even though the player’s Pokémon have very little to do with the capture process in the game, successfully catching a Pokémon will earn experience for all the active Pokémon currently in the player’s bag.

Shaking the Pokéball Plus activated a special mode. Once activated, the Pokémon inside it comes up, and you can perform a mini game to increase its happiness. I remember playing a mode similar to this one when I played Pokémon X on the 3DS XL. You can use the motion control instead of a touch pad to pet your companion or feed it a berry. This increases its happiness and makes it more effective in-game.

We have high hopes that the Nintendo Switch is the best platform Nintendo has ever made for Pokémon games. Since I was a first-time Pokémon player I longed to play a Pokémon game I could play on the go, allowing for local wireless trading and battling, and then bring it home to continue its story on my big screen television. That dream got brighter today.

Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee are coming November 16th, 2018 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. What team are you on?

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