You want to be the very best, like no one ever was. The problem is, filling out that Pokédex can be tedious. You can walk through tall grass for days with no idea of what you’ll find ahead and a trail of Caterpies in your wake. And when you do find the one you want, you have to wear it down, draining its HP juuuuuuuust enough without going overboard and knocking it out. It’s enough to make you want to throw down a Max Repel and forgot about collecting altogether.
Okay, so no one’s ever made the argument that Pokémon RPGs are too hard, but they can be full of repetition and grinding. In upcoming Nintendo Switch titles Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, your Pokémon trainer can cut right to the chase, going immediately into capture mode upon finding one in the wild. What’s more, you can actually see the creatures lying in wait, making it easier to avoid ten Rattata battles in a row.
This simplified capture method is directly inspired by Nintendo’s successful mobile title Pokémon Go, and works similarly—only instead of swiping your phone, you’ll tip the Joy-Con controller at the screen. Alternately, you can use the PokéBall Plus, a neat little contraption that looks like a PokéBall but somehow functions as a controller. It felt good to hold that little ball in my hand, and I was shocked to find out its functionality went beyond just emulating the action of tossing a ball to catch a Pokémon. The PokéBall Plus can be used for the entire game, whether you’re exploring, battling, or racking up new Pokédex entries.
Fighting wild Pokémon may have been eliminated, but that doesn’t mean Let’s Go is combat-free. You’ll still encounter trainers in the wild, and you know the rules: if you make eye contact, you must pit your Pokémon against each other until only one side is left standing. What’s not known, however, is whether the Switch game will have gym battles and leaders like the core RPGs, and that’s something Nintendo’s not sharing just yet.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Eevee! has a lot of the traits for which the series is known: it’s cute as heck, it’s easy to get into, and there are lots of wild creatures to collect. Without knowing much about its scope beyond exploring and minor fighting, though, it feels more like a beefed-up version of the mobile game than a new Pokémon RPG. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you can even transfer Pokémon from the app to the Switch, though you can’t use them in battle. For those who found Pokémon Go to be a gateway drug to the long-running franchise, Let’s Go is a natural next step. For longtime fans, the return of the Kanto region and the original 151 Pokémon is a huge draw. It appears that the first console Pokémon game of the generation has something for everyone; I just hope it doesn’t lose too much of its challenge in the process.
Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, along with the PokéBall Plus, will be out on November 16.