Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are the first open-world Pokémon games to come to Nintendo Switch, but they differ wildly from the traditional role-playing games we’ve seen on systems like the Game Boy and the 3DS. Instead, Let’s Go is all about exploring a detailed environment filled with monsters ready to be captured, either by yourself or with the help of a friend. Here’s everything we know about Pokémon: Let’s Go so far.
Gotta catch ‘em all casually
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are designed to be playable by both veteran Pokémon fans and those who might be experiencing the franchise for the first time. Rather than have you battle wild Pokémon with your own monsters and attacks, in order to catch a new creature, all you have to do is flick your Joy-Con controller at the screen to send out a Poké Ball.
If you played Pokémon Go on a mobile device, you already know the basic way to do this, and with the Poké Ball Plus accessory, you can even pretend that you’re throwing a real Poké Ball at the screen. In the Switch’s handheld mode, catching a new monster is done by moving the entire system around and pressing the A button.
The difficulty of catching each Pokémon is determined by the colored ring visible around them. A green ring is easier to catch, while a red ring will be very difficult to catch. The Pokémon’s level and power level are visible in the top-right, so you’ll know if it’s worth wasting Poké Balls to catch them.
The one exception to this system is for “Legendary” Pokémon. The three birds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres must be defeated in combat before they can be captured, and it appears there will be other Legendary Pokémon to find, as well — possibly one who starred in a little movie.
A new (and familiar) world
Though it’s a new game with its own mechanics and features, Pokémon: Let’s Go is also a pseudo-remake of the Game Boy’s Pokémon Yellow. As in that game, you’ll be exploring the Kanto region, also made famous in the Pokémon animated series. Familiar locations like Pallet Town and Vermilion City make appearances, and the gym leaders you’ve seen on the show and in the original game are still there to challenge you to a Pokémon battle. Brock and Misty are ready to fight, and their gyms are thematically appropriate, with rock and water surrounding the arenas.
Despite being based on Yellow, you will see some more recent updates for Pokémon in Let’s Go. You’re able to transfer creatures you’ve captured in Pokémon Go on your phone into the game’s Go Park complex, including the Alolan forms introduced in Sun and Moon.
Battle it out
You won’t be fighting most Pokémon you come across, but whenever you meet another trainer, the action switches to the more traditional turn-based role-playing system you’ve seen in other Pokémon games. You will have to choose between moves and attempt to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses while protecting your own, and at the end of a successful battle, your Pokémon will increase in power. “Mega” forms of classic Kanto Pokémon will also be available.
There’s another way to increase your Pokémon’s power that should be familiar to Pokémon Go players: Candy. You can use these to increase specific statistics you want to improve for your Pokémon, and more can be acquired by walking your monsters via Poké Ball Plus, transferring them to Professor Oak, and playing in the Go Park’s Play Yard.
Cooperative and competitive multiplayer
Though Pokémon: Let’s Go is primarily a single-player game, you can actually play cooperatively with another person in a local multiplayer mode called “Support Play.” Two trainers can run around the open world and explore it together, and when it’s time to catch a Pokémon, you can throw your Poké Balls simultaneously to increase the chance of the original player catching it. A similar system is used when battling trainers, though it doesn’t appear the second player will receive any direct benefit if they then go back to play the game on their own Switch system.
Of course, as with any other Pokémon game, you can battle and trade with other players, as well, either through local play or online. As with most Nintendo Switch games at this point, using the online features requires a paid Nintendo Switch Online subscription.
More with ‘Pokémon Go’
The similarity in the games’ titles is for more than just name recognition — Pokémon: Let’s Go and Pokémon Go are integrated, providing a richer experience in both games for those willing to put in the time. The Pokémon you’ve earned in Go can be sent to the Go Park complex in Let’s Go, which can hold up to 1,000 monsters across 20 separate parks. For some reason, you’re required to catch these monsters again before you can use them.
You’ll want to think twice before doing this with all your Pokémon Go catches, however, as you cannot send them back to the mobile game once they’re on the Switch. Moreover, presumably to keep the Go-playing field on an even level, you cannot send Pokémon first caught in Let’s Go to your phone at all.
If you buy the optional Poké Ball Plus accessory, you can also use this to interact with both games. Aside from being a controller for Let’s Go, it can store one of your Pokémon for when you go for a walk, and it originally comes with Mew — the only way to get the monster. If you want to use it with Pokémon Go, instead, it also functions as a Pokémon Go Plus accessory, so you can be alerted to nearby monsters without having to look at your phone all the time.
Despite primarily focusing on the original 151 Pokémon and their Alolan forms, there is at least one new Pokémon coming to Let’s Go. Introduced initially as a mysterious sighting in Pokémon Go, “Meltan” is a steel-type Pokémon that resembles a hex nut sitting on top of a silver Ditto’s body. The Pokémon will be able to use electric-type attacks, and you’ll need to use Pokémon Go in order to use it in Let’s Go, though the exact way this is done isn’t clear yet.
As with the handheld games, Pokémon: Let’s Go comes in two different versions: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! They’re nearly identical, but there are a few differences that could sway your purchasing decision one way or the other.
The Pokémon in the title of the game you purchase will follow you around instead of appearing inside a Poké Ball, similar to how Pikachu acted in Yellow. However, this Pokémon can still be found in the other version of the game.
Not all original Pokémon can be found in both versions, however. Oddish, Sandshrew, and Growlithe are exclusive to Let’s Go, Pikachu! while Bellsprout, Meowth, and Vulpix can only be found in Let’s Go, Eevee!, so you’ll need to do some trading to get them all.
You will have a few other unique features in the two games, as well. Exclusive moves and “secret techniques” give you more options in battle and exploration, and “partner powers” also give you an edge during tough trainer battles.
And did we mention that you can give your partner Pokémon different hairstyles, for some reason? Yes, as you pet your Pokémon, you can choose to change the way their hair looks. If you have ever wanted to give Eevee bangs, please seek help, but you can do it in Let’s Go, Eevee!
Bundles and release date
Pokémon: Let’s Go releases exclusively for Nintendo Switch on November 16.
Alongside the standard versions of Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! two special editions also containing a Poké Ball Plus are available for pre-order now, and will set you back $100. If you order them directly from The Pokémon Company, you will get a keychain plush of either Pikachu or Eevee, as well.
If you don’t own a Nintendo Switch yet, a console bundle is also available. The bundle contains a digital copy of the game, a Poké Ball Plus, and a specially themed Switch console and dock. The dock and console both contain images of the two Pokémon, while the Joy-Con controllers are colored yellow and brown. The same console and dock are included regardless of the version you purchase.
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