Video gaming

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu: dumbed down, none of the fun bits of Pokemon Go

  • The new game is a mash-up of two previous games, but it is aimed at a much younger audience
  • It is oversimplified and has nothing to challenge older players
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 November, 2018, 8:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2018, 1:30pm

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu for the Nintendo Switch is a remake of Pokemon Yellow, the classic role-playing game released on the Game Boy in 1998, that the franchise’s legions of loyal fans grew up loving. It features Ash Ketchum (or Satoshi as he’s known in his home country Japan), his fuzzy yellow sidekick, and a host of Pokemons or pocket monsters.

The gameplay is a mishmash of the old (the Pokedex, locations map, gym leaders and mind-boggling dialogue all return from Pokemon Yellow) and the new (the Pokemon catching mechanics is borrowed from Pokemon Go which was published for smartphones in 2016). So with this new release it is clear Nintendo is out to catch younger and new players who are familiar with the augmented reality version.

Taiwanese grandfather tries to catch ’em all playing Pokemon Go on 15 phones

Like me.

I briefly played another game, Pokemon Black, on the NDS – my first handheld game console – but I never completed it. I did watch the anime but I don’t feel the same emotional attachment to the franchise.

This is precisely why I find Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu so disappointing.

Pokemon Let’s Go is independent from the core entries of the franchise so it starts from zero – you are a 10-year-old trainer who just caught your first Pokemon and embark on a journey through the Kanto region.

But in making the game approachable for all ages, Nintendo has also dumbed it down so much that it presents hardly any challenge to players above the age of five.

Don’t worry if you do not know all the types of monsters, their moves, strengths and weaknesses, you will slowly be introduced to them. But these hardly matter because battles are easily won anyway. Our first side quest is staring at a pink slowpoke while it stares blankly ahead.

While the game incorporates the catching mechanics of Pokemon Go, it is far less sophisticated. No curve balls. The joystick controller is horribly inaccurate. And again, no button will allow you to skip the repetitive graphics.

To be fair, Pokemon Go was a stunning success that is difficult to sustain, not to mention replicate. But the elements that make Pokemon Go so fun to play – the fact it really gets people out, the crowds that gather spontaneously because of a rare Pokemon spawning and the augmented reality experience, where the types of Pokemon you catch actually correspond to the environment – are completely absent from this version.

Players can transfer the creatures they have caught on their phones in Pokemon Go to the Switch console (but not the other way around) at Fuchsia City, but many may not even get that far without snoozing off.

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu may be an upgraded version of a beloved classic game, but to capture new players, it will have to compete with many other adventure and RPG games on the market. And that, will be much harder than catching even the rarest Pokemon.

Pokemon Let’s Go HK$423