How the Poké Ball Plus Will Ruin “Let’s Go Pikachu”

Matthew Loffhagen
Nintendo
(Photo: Nintendo)

E3 has given us a nice, healthy look at “Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu” and “Let’s Go Eevee”, a pair of games that will essentially bring the experience of playing “Pokémon Go” to the living room.

The games will feature “Go” style gameplay, merged with the traditional “Pokémon” RPG formula. This means walking through long grass, and throwing balls with the Nintendo Switch’s joycons.

The pièce de résistance is the Poké Ball Plus, an accessory that’ll be sold by Nintendo which functions like a joycon, but which is shaped like a Poké Ball from “Pokémon” canon.

There’s just one problem. I think the Poké Ball Plus is going to break the game entirely.

Why? Because the accessory will give players Mew, the best of all event Pokémon.

(For the uninitiated, an event Pokémon is one that’s only available from special events, such as timed downloads or in-store promotions. There are loads of these, and they’re a real pain to get hold of.)

The Problem With #151

Here’s the problem with giving a bunch of players Mew right off the bat: it makes the game far less enjoyable.

There’s no need to build up a balanced team of Pocket Monsters when you’ve got a Mew. This Pokémon has great stats, can learn any move, and its psychic type means it dominates pretty much everything that’ll appear in “Let’s Go Pikachu”.

Mew Let's Go Pikachu
Source: Nintendo

Yes, it’s a cool Pokémon to have right off the bat, but it also makes the game incredibly boring. There’ll be nothing more powerful that players can catch, so why even bother with the catching mechanic in the first place?

Then, there’s the issue of stock shortages.

Pay To Win (If You Can Find One)

The Poké Ball Plus will only be available to players who get exceptionally lucky. Nintendo has a tendency to vastly underestimate demand for its plastic toys. Either that or the company is trolling its fans. I kind of suspect them of doing this deliberately.

So we’ll be in a position where some players of the game will have a very boring experience because of this peripheral. But, they’ll also dominate the playground in multiplayer battles because they have the most powerful Pokémon in the game right off the bat.

Perhaps I’m taking this too seriously. Maybe this whole game is meant to be a bit of fun, and my eagerness to quantify the value of each Pokémon will prove to be a buzzkill.

Mew in Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu
Source: Nintendo

Certainly, this kind of meta-analysis is what made the mainstream “Pokémon” games all but unplayable without a bachelor’s degree in statistics. Just try Googling “Pokémon IVs” if you want to find out how much Game Freak hates its fans.

But if “Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu” is meant to be an introductory game for new players, it’d help if they weren’t simply handed an incredibly overpowered weapon out of the gate and expected to fend for themselves.

That just makes the whole experience less fun for everyone involved.