Pokémon JRPGs meet Pokémon GO in this perfect meeting of worlds for Pokémon fans young and old. 

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu (and its partner game, Eevee) is a new Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch. Mostly similar to the JRPGs you know and love, with a few differences thrown in to keep you on your toes, Nintendo have created a game that will please both diehard Pokémon fans and those that only came into the franchise thanks to Pokémon GO.

Whatever you may have heard about how ‘different’ Pokémon: Let’s Go is from the other Pokémon games, put all your preconceived ideas away. PLG is mostly your run-of-the-mill Gen 1 Pokémon game with a few differences. It’s clear they’ve made this new entry welcoming to newcomers, but you’ll still feel nostalgic returning to Pallet Town after all these years.

You start out in your bedroom – as usual – and have to go hunt down Oak to get your very first Pokémon. Therefore, the first notable difference you’ll find is how the catching system works – it’s the same as it is in Pokémon GO. You’ll encounter a wild Pokémon and have to throw a Poké Ball (and a berry), if you like at it to catch it – no battling. You’ll notice, too, that you’ll actually be able to see Pokémon walking around in tall grass and in caves in front of you – those pesky Zubat are a lot easier to avoid now. Conversely, there’s a kind of exhilarating rush when you see something particularly rare or that you haven’t caught yet and you chase after it before it manages to escape. This catching method is a lot easier to grasp than trying to whittle away a Pokémon’s health without actually killing it, which is something that’s happened all too often to us before. You still get exp points both from battling and catching – catching is calculated through spin and timing and the like. You’ll also see that some Pokémon have different coloured auras around them – this depicts the size of the monsters.

PLG is old but new, nostalgic but exciting. Battling other trainers is the same as in the ‘main’ games – lock eyes with someone and it’s your Pokémon against theirs, using any manner of moves and their types to be the very best, like noone ever was. You’ll see some familiar faces around – the Gym leaders specifically – and be prepared to run into Team Rocket while you’re out there, too. Speaking of Gyms, they’ll have different conditions that bar you from entering at too low a level. For example, having a Pokémon that’s over a certain level, or a certain type of Pokémon. It’s all to make it more user-friendly for those new to the series.

Even just walking around this reimagined Kanto is a treat. You might have seen it all before, sure, but with the new graphics of the Switch, it’s all just a little bit prettier. You can choose one Pokémon to walk around outside its Poké Ball with you (in addition to your partner Pikachu), and they’ll occasionally find items hidden around the world for you to pick up. Another change is that HMs – hidden moves – are also gone. Instead, you’ll be using secret techniques to light up caves and cut down trees. The best part is they don’t take up move slots, so you completely remove the need for HM jockeys (RIP Zigzagoon) to get you around the world.

If you feel like giving your partner Pikachu a little bit of extra lovin’, you can opt to play with him in the game’s menus, patting him and feeding him berries to make him that little bit happier. You can also dress up both yourself and your pal in matching outfits if you like, just to really get across how much you love your little Poké buddy. The rest of your Pokémon, by the way, are now kept in a handy box in your bag instead of on a computer, eliminating the need for you to head to Bill’s or a Pokémon Centre to swap Pokémon into your party.

The controls are very straightforward and easy to pick up, and the game plays well both docked and in handheld. More importantly, we would say that it’s essential that you pick up a Poké Ball Plus controller to play with. Aside from the fact that playing Pokémon with a Poké Ball is close to being ultimate dream realisation, the buttons on the actual Poké Ball mean it’s possible to play the whole game just using that controller. It’s comfortable, it’s user-friendly, and it’s downright cool. Not to mention you can use it like a Pokéwalker and take your Pokémon around with you.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu is an adorable, family-friendly addition to the Pokémon franchise, a perfect fit for the portability of the Switch, and a precise midpoint between the classic Pokémon games and the new app. Nostalgic for old fans and an exciting adventure for new ones, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this new trip to Kanto. There’s just something about seeing Pikachu jump off your shoulder like he does to Ash in the anime that will keep you coming back for more.

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu – and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevie – are available now for Switch.star 4 and a half

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