Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! E3 Impression 2
So I figure Pokémon trainers walk a lot. They’re always traipsing through high grass, meeting random trainers on roads, spelunking through caverns, and sometimes diving to the bottom of the ocean. OK, so the last one is more swimming, but you get my point, right? They must have really built up calf muscles and are probably used to standing all the time.
Nintendo wanted to make sure everyone who plays Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! or Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! feels like a real Pokémon trainer. That’s why it subjected everyone to a three-hour wait before being allowed to play. It’s a new level of immersion that will hopefully be replicated for RPGamers at home via some sort of mandatory physical activity validated with the Pokémon GO! app before permitting them to play the new game.
Following the hike through the tall stanchions, I was permitted to hold the new Poké Ball Plus controller. It actually feels pretty good. It has the normal Nintendo wrist strap to give the illusion of safety, but also has a plastic ring for your ring finger to help stabilize the ball. There is a directional stick that also functions as the A button when pushed in, as well as a B button that’s hiding in the center of the red part of the Poké Ball Plus. A second Poké Ball Plus was shown to me with a captive Pikachu inside, whose apparent cries for freedom upon shaking the ball went unheeded.
After that, I was told to wander around the Viridian Forest for eight minutes, after which my demo would end. Whilst the possibilities of what one could do in such a timeframe are endless, the possibilities of what one could do in this demo were not. Opening the menu to look at my default team of Pokémon resulted in me being informed that I was not allowed to look at the menu in this demo. So I quickly exited from that and went ahead and got in a trainer battle.
Pokémon battles in Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! are completely normal Pokémon battles. Pick an attack, be told if it’s effective or not, see how much damage it did, swap to another Pokémon if you need to, etc. The moves are not animated at all. Just a lot of shaking and some icons that represent the type of damage. This is legitimately the most disappointing part of the demo. If you’re going to remake one of the first generation titles and make it feel modern, at least animate it as well as Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon were. It looks completely out of place in a full 3D remake to have animations that look like they belong on a Game Boy Advance.
Following the trainer battle, I entered the tall grass looking for some new Pokémon to capture. This is where the game takes more after Pokémon Go. Pokémon simply show up in the grass. You’ll see Pidgeys and Caterpies and Kakunas just moving around in random directions. Some of these will glow red or blue to indicate they’re as large or small as they can possibly be, respectively. Walking into any Pokémon starts the capture process from Pokémon Go. You can optionally choose a berry or a better Poké Ball from your inventory first, but then you hit the menu option to Get Ready. Now you bend your arm back and then move it forward as though you’re throwing a Poké Ball yourself. It seems to be very graceful and all my throws but one were interpreted as perfectly straight. Oh, and if you’re looking for curveballs, well, they weren’t in the demo and I was told there was no comment on whether they would be in the final game.
There’s also no comment as to whether you will be able battle wild Pokémon instead of just catching them. But perhaps this won’t be needed as just capturing a Pokémon provided much more experience than any of the trainer battles I fought. I worry though that endlessly capturing Pidgeys to level up my Pokémon would get exceedingly old. In fact, the entire experience managed to wear thin even in an eight-minute demo. It’s clear Nintendo isn’t showing the entire game here, but there is some concern that there simply isn’t much here beyond another journey through the original games with a weird capture gimmick this time around. But hey, at least Eevee can ride on your head.
Complaints aside though, the single-handed gameplay was very relaxing. Maybe it was due to having waited for three hours and not having a fresh frame of mind, but the idea of sitting down and spending an afternoon catching Pidgeys was sort of appealing, repetitive as it would be. And I could always shove one into the Poké Ball Plus and work on my walking skills if I really got bored.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! look like fun games for younger folks as well as RPGamers looking for a very relaxing one handed romp through nostalgia. Those looking for the next big Pokémon game are probably already aware that this isn’t it and they should be waiting for the 2019 title. Now go get some fresh shoes and start working on that couch-to-5K program.