If you even so much as left your home during 2016, the chances are you'll remember Pokemon GO - the craze that saw almost everyone flock outside, smart phones in hand, to catch and collect virtual Pokemon out in the real world. For some of the younger crowd, this marked their first foray into the world of Pokemon, and ever alert to the call of money, Nintendo have decided to try to cash in on the craze with their latest Nintendo Switch offering, Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!. Read on to find out more!
What are Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
Revealed at a special pre-E3 Pokemon conference in Japan, Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! are the latest spin-offs to grace the much-loved critter catching franchise. Inspired by mobile sensation Pokemon GO, with more than a hint of the original Pokemon games, the Let's Go games are actually remakes of Pokemon Yellow - one of the very first Pokemon games - and will see you journeying around the Kanto region with your trusty 'mons at your side.
Intended as a game "designed for players taking their first steps into the Pokemon video game world", Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! aren't going to be your usual, run of the mill Pokemon adventures - that's coming in late 2019, apparently. Instead, the games will showcase many of the Nintendo Switch's unique features, such as throwing Poke Balls by swinging the Joy-Con controller and letting a friend jump in with two-player co-op.
How do Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! differ from a regular Pokemon game?
Intended as a "whole new experience" with a "new play style that anyone can enjoy", Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! rework the traditional Pokemon formula for a new audience, drawn in by Pokemon GO - something which has split the fan base right down the middle, and created a lot of controversy online. Although, as is often the case with a Nintendo reveal, precisely how things differ is a bit hazy.
So far, we know that encounters with wild Pokemon will be a bit different, working more like Pokemon GO than a traditional Pokemon adventure (more on that later), but the familiar trainer and gym battles will still be a big part of the game.
New features in Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!
One feature we're pretty pleased to see making a return is the ability to have a Pokemon follow you around as you explore, with Pikachu or Eevee trotting along behind you, or perching on your shoulder as you go about your adventure. Even better, it appears the feature isn't just limited to the titular 'partner' 'mons either, as the reveal trailer also shows Nidoking/Nidoqueen, Electrode and Gengar following you around too. Another nice touch, which appears to be only limited to your partner Eevee or Pikachu, is the ability to dress them up and accessorise them with a range of outfits, hats and the like, which we can see ourselves spending way too much time on...
As seen in the trailer, you can also ride certain Pokemon in Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, with Onyx, Lapras and Charizard all being mountable. Unlike the main Pokemon games, riding Pokemon here does not require you to have the relevant HM, as HMs don't exist in the Let's Go world.
How will the wild battles work in Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
In your average Pokemon game, much of your time is spent travelling the region and doing battle with umpteen wild Pokemon, taking it in turns to attack, defend and use items, eventually weakening them enough to capture them to add them to your growing roster of battle-ready 'mons. However, this seems to have changed drastically for Let's Go, as battles with wild Pokemon have actually been given the boot, in favour of a Pokemon GO-style encounter system, where wild Pokemon can be seen wandering around, and you simply run up to them to start an encounter. From there, all you have to do is lob a Poke Ball in its direction and pray - now with added motion controls, the more accurate your throw, the greater your chance of capturing the Pokemon in question.
Battles haven't completely gone though, as over the course of your journey you'll run into computer-controlled Pokemon Trainers itching for a fight. For these, the familiar turn-based battle system that's been a mainstay of the series for two decades is back, as you and your opponent take it in turns to try to knock out each others' Pokemon. Apparently, you'll earn experience points both from battling other Pokemon and from catching wild 'mons, although the levelling system has yet to be finalised, according to Game Freak head honcho Masuda - which suggests there may some changes in store there too.
What's with the Pokemon GO integration in Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
For a game that's intended to bring Pokemon GO players into the fold, it comes as little surprise that Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! will have Pokemon GO support. Essentially, any Pokemon you capture on Pokemon GO can be transferred to your Let's Go game via the Pokemon GO Park, a special area that let's you capture them all over again to add them to your in-game collection. The Pokemon GO Park looks a bit like the Safari Zones you often see in the mainline Pokemon games, where you're given a certain number of Poke Balls with which to capture as many of the Pokemon as you can - we wouldn't be surprised if it works in a similar way, either.
You'll also be able to send gifts between Pokemon GO and Let's Go as well, although precisely what is gift-able is a mystery.
The press release also mentions that "Something special will also be coming to the world of Pokémon GO, making the connection between both games even more appealing for Trainers", with rumours strongly suggesting this is a new Pokemon of some sort - although we should expect more details on that soon.
How does the co-op multiplayer work in Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
Because of the Nintendo Switch's innate multiplayer capabilities, Let's Go, Pikachu!/Let's Go, Eevee! will have support for two player co-operative throughout, letting you and a friend go Pokemon hunting together. Playing in co-op can apparently boost the chances of you encountering rare Pokemon too, as well as making battles against computer-controlled trainers much easier, so it's well worth hooking someone else in if you can. Competitive Pokemon battling, both locally and online, will also be an option for those who want it.
What is the Poke Ball Plus controller?
Part novelty controller, part Pokemon GO-style accessory, the Poke Ball Plus controller is a replica Poke Ball that combines with the Pokemon: Let's Go games in unique ways. For starters, you can use it as a Joy-Con controller replacement in the game, moving your characters around, fake throwing it to mimic capturing 'mons in game and so on. You can also virtually store a Pokemon in the device and pop it in your bag to go for a real life stroll, accompanied by sounds and vibrations of the Pokemon inside. And, as if the Pikachu noises coming from your bag weren't enough to deter strangers, the Poke Ball Plus also connects to your smartphone and lets you know when a Pokemon appears nearby, Pokemon GO-style. From there, you can then press a button on your Poke Ball Plus to capture them - although, we're kind of disappointed it doesn't make you fake-throw it to catch stuff, making you look like a proper Pokemon dork in the process.
What's the difference between Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
Currently, we know relatively little about what the main differences between the versions will be, except for the fact that your main partner/starter Pokemon will be either a Pikachu or an Eevee, depending on the version you choose. What we do know is that both Pikachu and Eevee are keen to hop up on your shoulder (or head) and melt your heart, as you explore the Pokemon world.
Beyond the starters, it has been confirmed that you'll encounter different species of Pokemon, and at different rates, depending on the game version you choose, in a similar manner to the precedent set by past Pokemon games - although which 'mons will be exclusive to which game is still a mystery.
Which Pokemon will be included in Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee!?
So far, the game has been confirmed to include all of the first 151 Pokemon, as seen in the original Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow games set in the same Kanto region (original antagonists Team Rocket look to be in there too). There'll also be some Alolan Pokemon, from the more recent Pokemon Sun/Moon games, as well as a new never before seen mystery Pokemon.
As per your average Pokemon game, many of the Pokemon you capture will be able to evolve into newer, stronger forms as they level up. However, weirdly, your partner Pokemon - either Pikachu or Eevee, depending on the version you choose - will stay as Pikachu or Eevee, and cannot evolve. If you want to nab yourself a Raichu, or one of the whole gamut of Eevee-lutions, you'll need to catch yourself another Pikachu or Eevee.
Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! Release Dates
Pokemon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! will be hitting the Nintendo Switch later this year, on the 16th November 2018 (which just so happens to be our glorious editor's birthday, cough cough Nintendo), and the Poke Ball Plus controller will be launching alongside, if you really need a novelty Pokemon-themed controller in your life. Why not check out the reveal trailer for yourself below: