Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu-Part One

It sounds strange to describe a video game as a part of my upbringing, but if any game can have a claim to that in my life, it would have to be Pokémon. From the age of 7 when I picked up Pokémon: Silver Edition, it has become a small but significant part of my life. I’ve purchased most handheld versions of the game, and so given the handheld nature of the Nintendo Switch, it feels very much at home here.

This is going to be a slightly different piece than usual, as it’s going to be part diary, part review. I’ll record my journey, while also telling you how the game performs, what is does well and not so well. There will be several instalments too, so I’m going to keep it relatively short.

The basic preamble gives way to a fully three-dimensional player environment, which looks pretty good, especially compared to the game which it appears Let’s Go is based on: Pokémon Yellow. You get given a special Pikachu as your first Pokémon, which it turns out is pretty much perfect, having very high stats, much higher than many of the other monsters you will encounter.

Joined by my new partner (who sits unbearably cutely on my shoulder), and equipped with a brand new Pokédex, I set out from Pallet Town on my way to Viridian City. I battle some wild blighters on the way, finding that this is not like any previous game in the venerable series. I’m not able to send Pikachu into battle! What is this!?

Turns out, in these not-quite main game entries to the series, you can only catch wild Pokémon in the same style as Pokémon go. You throw pokéball, berries, or other items to try and catch the Pokémon. If you are successful, you gain experience for your party Pokémon. I do this a few times on my way to Viridian and level up my Pikachu a bit. The really nice thing, however, is that wild Pokémon are now seen out of battle, so you simply walk into them to begin the encounter. I think this is a really nice touch and makes the game slightly more immersive.

On arrival you are given a fetch quest for Professor Oak, and head back to Pallet Town. After delivery you battle your friend/rival for the very first time (I named my friend/rival Brexit. Make of that what you will), who, annoying as ever, is surprised you kicked his ass.

My powerful Pikachu ensured that I breezed past the bug-catchers in Viridian Forest, and even right on past Brock; the first Gym Leader in Pewter City. I was expecting a real struggle given the weakness of Pikachu to ground type Pokémon, but luckily Pikachu learns a super-effective fighting type move, so I simply Double-Kicked my way to glory. Claiming the Boulder Badge, I set off for Mount Moon.

Inside the mountain I encountered innumerable Zubat, a fossil hunter, and Team Rocket (oh no!). As in Yellow version I encountered various grunts as well as Jesse and James who rather annoyingly popped-up right after the battle with the fossil hunter. Here, and in many places later, I found that I wasn’t as highly levelled as I would like due to battles with wild Pokémon having been removed. It isn’t a game breaker, but it does add an extra level of challenge, and seems slightly contradictory given the casual nature of the Go mechanic.

Out again in the sunlight I arrived in Cerulean City, visited Bill the Pokémaniac, crossed Trainer Bridge and returned to the Gym. Misty proved to be even less of a challenge than Brock; again, having a good type match up (electric vs water) I soon had the Cascade Badge in my possession. I also finally added to my party, catching an Abra just north of the city.

I’m hoping at this point that the game follows on from Pokémon Yellow and I get the opportunity to own the three starter Pokémon from Red and Blue, Charmander, Bulbasaur, and Squirtle. Although I did find out from a bug catcher that it is possible to capture them in the wild! I hope that it’s true. So far, I’ve been enjoying my adventure, despite it being a more casual Pokémon experience than I am used to. Look out for the next instalment soon!

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