Nintendo’s E3 show floor has been packed with thousands of attendees over the past week, and unsurprisingly Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! are some of the most popular games around. With hundreds of eager fans lining up to play, wait times were as long as three hours.
So are these remakes worth the wait? Is the hype real? The demo was only about ten minutes long and restricted to the Viridian Forest, but that’s all I needed to be sold on the experience.
A new adventure in an HD re-imagined Kanto is something I’ve been asking for, and Game Freak has delivered. Within seconds of my demo kicking off, it became clear that my expectations were exceeded in this regard. The visuals stay true to the style established in recent 3DS Pokémon games, but everything feels so much more alive.
One of the first things I noticed is just how expressive both the NPCs and the Pokémon themselves are. I found myself continually amused by the sassy expressions displayed by the Lass trainers and the determination in the eyes of the Bug Catchers, unaware of just how badly they’re about to get trounced. The animations are more detailed and fluid than ever, and they truly shine in HD. Seeing Eevee’s tail waving gently in the wind while his ears cutely twitch brought a smile to my face every time.
But what about the gameplay? Is it equally as impressive as the updated visuals? Well, of course that will partially depend on how you feel about the mechanics that these games borrow from Niantic’s mobile hit, Pokémon GO.
Seeing Pokémon roaming freely on the overworld (as opposed to spawning randomly in tall grass) is a wonderful addition, and it’s one I definitely hope stays for future “core” entries in the franchise. Catching Pokémon may be a little more divisive, as not everyone likes forced motion controls. That said, the Poké Ball Plus peripheral (which an be used to play the whole game) felt good in my hand, and throwing a ball is as simple as a flick of the wrist. The rumble features make the thrill of catching a Pokémon more tangible than ever.
When it’s all said and done, Pokémon: Let’s Go is about what you’d expect from the trailers in terms of its core mechanics. Where it really shines is all the small details that collectively add up to a more immersive Pokémon experience than ever before.