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Game Review

Yep, you heard right, there’s a duo of new Poké games out: Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee.

Now, any sensible Mom or Dad may be thinking, “Hey, there are more than 20 years of these cookie-cutter games. Why would I think about buying another one for the franchise fans in my family?” And that would be a reasonable thought.

But don’t let a Pokémon fan hear you say that, or you could get a rather nasty look tossed in your direction—like a Poké Ball in the dense grass.

It's true, there are a number of familiar elements in these games, including characters and activities dating way back to the 1990s. But there’s quite a bit that’s different, too. And it’s that blend of comforting familiarity and fresh new stuff that keeps the fanboys and fangirls coming back time and again.

That Sounds Pretty Poké Familiar

Let’s Go starts gamers out with a young avatar who’s entrusted with an initial Pokémon pal that he or she can build a team around and go adventure with. Depending on which game you've picked up, a Pikachu or an Eevee—two staples from the Pokémon world—will pop out of the grass to claim you as their new best friend. From there, you'll head off to collect more exotic Poké critters, prove your skills, and face down some bad guys: Team Rocket's baddies are blasting off once again to misuse those lovable little "pocket monsters" and to make an out-of-this-world profit for itself.

The “catching” part of the equation is still done with a magical red, white and black Pokéball that’s tossed out to suck up whatever Arbok or Zubat or Charmander you might come upon in the nearby tall grasses, dark caves and burbling waters. Then you stash the majority of them in your Poké box and keep a team of six favorites ready for upcoming battles. Those battles still employ a rock-paper-scissors matchup scheme¬—so fire creatures will have an advantage over grass critters, water monsters will beat fire beasties, electrics zap waters, etc.

That’s all Tentacool-typical for this franchise, so what’s new?

Go Leads Here

The most important change is that this game is designed to usher all those gazillions of Pokémon Go players—those newbies who were introduced to the world of Pokémon through a critter-catching phone app—into this Switch game's version of "gotta catch 'em all." But Let’s Go puts larger emphasis this time on catching Poké. If you catch scores and scores of the critters, your six-member team upgrades far faster.

(One other very coy marketing ploy: Pokémon Go players can digitally transfer their creatures to Let's Go, earning a reward that gives them faster access to a new Pokémon named Meltan that's much more arduous to procure in Pokémon Go alone.)

The game has also built in a multiplier effect for racking up experience points. It’s based on how excellent your catch was, how rare the critter caught was, how many of the same type of Poké you’ve caught in a row, and other factors.

Also, the creatures you catch come packing Pokémon Candies. These treats help buff up your beastie besties' key stats, such as the speed of their attack, the power of their punch, their defense, etc. And you can send some of your many, many extra caught Pokémon back home to a friendly professor and earn even more upgrades for your squad.

On top of that, there’s another change this go 'round. Instead of the Pokémon popping up at random as you walk by, they now pop up and walk around for a bit, so you pick and choose which creatures you want to go after. (Much more like you'd do with the Pokémon Go phone app.) That allows you to be more picky and strategic, as well as farming many more Pokémon because of this change.

Oh, and as far as your Pikachu or Eevee is concerned, these aren’t the same old critters you remember. They ride around on your back and learn special skills to hack obstacles and move heavy barriers for you. And if you take time to pet and play with them, they learn specialty skills for the battlefield, too.

Any Pokés in Your Eye?

Fans may wonder if all these added boosts and changes make things boring or just ruin the challenge. I’d have to say that I don’t think so. It’s obvious that these new games are meant to encourage a younger player; but oldsters who have been playing for years will still find new and old fun to be had. Things haven’t changed all that radically.

Of course, that also means some elements that have concerned some parents in the past are still in evidence here, too. These pocket monsters are still monstery looking at times. They shoot fireballs and blasts of energy, slash and bite, and do everything from dropping slime balls to radiating hypnotic brain zaps in their quest to best other Pokémon. (Nothing bloody, though.)

The game also includes some Eastern spirituality, too, ranging from references to preordained fates, as well as allusions to the spirits of deceased Pokémon. We run across a burial tower at one point, for instance, haunted by floating spirits that chase after you and eject you from the building when you’re caught. Players also encounter spirit channelers: women dressed in religious, nun-like garb who appear to be possessed by some creepy spirits when you first encounter them. They break out of the trance when you defeat their Pokémon in battle. And let’s not forget the evolutionary nature of the Poké creatures themselves, as many of them shift to more potent forms once you've acquired the needed resources to make that happen.

All of that said, though, there’s still a lot here to like. You take on evil Team Rocket, take down gym leaders, take over as the local cities' Pokémaster and take it to the mysterious Elite Four in an adventure that can be played in the family room or with the Switch handheld device.

It’s a big adventure. And besides that dash of Far Eastern spiritual creepiness, it’s one without much of anything to make a Mom or Dad or Pokékid wince.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

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Crude or Profane Language

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Record Label


Nintendo Switch




November 16, 2018

On Video

Year Published



Bob Hoose

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