Is “Let’s Go Pikachu” The Switch Game Pokémon Fans Have Been Waiting For?

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Nintendo)

I’m not entirely sure what to make of “Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu”.

On the one hand, this looks like a distilled version of everything I’ve ever wanted from the Pokémon series. On the other hand, I worry that it might be a slightly shallow experience.

Nintendo fans have been calling out for a solid Pokémon game on the Switch pretty much since the device was announced. Pokémon games have always been about portability and connectivity, so the handheld/console hybrid seems like the perfect opportunity to give everyone the best of both worlds.

Game Freak, the makers of the Pokémon games, insist that a full RPG title is coming to the Switch in 2019. “Let’s Go Pikachu” is not that game.

Instead, this seems to be an enhanced version of “Pokémon Go”, and I can’t really fault Nintendo for assuming that there’d be an audience for such a thing.

The Go Legacy

Back in 2016, “Pokémon Go” was a genuine phenomenon. When campaigning presidential candidates are cracking wise about a video game, you know it’s reached every possible echelon of society.

The game, though, had a built-in shelf life. Ultimately, players were only going to tolerate the GPS-based video game until their phone batteries died, or their feet got tired.

If only there had been a way to play “Pokémon Go” while sat comfortably on the couch at home. Had the game offered this experience, it might have lasted a little longer before being abandoned by lazy gamers.

Thus, “Let’s Go Pikachu” seems to offer the core “Pokémon Go” gameplay without all that annoying exercise and fresh air. Players can instead explore a digital world, and they can do so while sat down. The inclusion of a two-player mode also helps to deliver the “Go” experience, as the mobile version is very much a social experience.

Let's Go Pikachu Pokemon Go
Source: Nintendo

But considering that “Let’s Go Pikachu” is based around the same ball-throwing gameplay as “Pokémon Go”, will it actually hold anyone’s attention?

We have yet to see just how much this game will take from the traditional “Pokémon” role-playing games. Will players get to choose their Pokémon’s moves, and come up with special strategies? Or will the game simply be a matter of tapping furiously at the screen, like “Pokémon Go”?

I suspect the experience might feel a little lacking compared with more immersive Pokémon titles like “Sun” and “Moon”. At the same time, I definitely think that “Let’s Go Pikachu” is the perfect title for me at this moment in time.

Baby’s First Pokémon

I’ll be honest – I tapped out of the “Pokémon” main game series after “X” and “Y”. Or, to be more specific, after the digital re-release of “Pokémon Red” and “Blue”.

I realized, playing these older games, that I didn’t necessarily care about a lot of the newer elements that had been added to the series. A nice, pure, simply “Pokémon” was all I wanted.

Let's Go Pikachu Battle
Source: Nintendo

So, that being the case, even though “Let’s Go Pikachu” (or “Let’s Go Eevee”, which would be my personal choice) sounds like it’ll be pretty perfect for me. If the game does away with all the needlessly complicated gameplay elements that have been added over the years, and offers a Baby’s First Pokémon experience, I’m all for it.

I don’t think “Let’s Go Pikachu” will be the big, bombastic Pokémon Switch RPG that people are hoping for. Even so, I get the feeling that this game will be perfect for a lot of new and lapsed Pokémon fans that just want the “Pokémon Go” experience without having to hang around local PokéStops in the rain at 2am.