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Everything You Need To Know About Pokemon Let's Go!

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After months of leaks and apprehensive threads on Reddit, the Pokemon Company finally revealed their game plan for the series introduction to the Nintendo Switch during a press conference in Japan on May 30.

The company revealed that not one, but three games will be making their way onto the Switch this year, but they aren’t the core RPG games we’ve been waiting for.

Pokken Tournament DX was the first of the Pokemon games released on the Switch in September 2017, and the free-to-play, Minecraft-esqe game Pokemon Quest was released on the e-Shop pretty much immediately after the conference. Obviously, the fanfare was not attached to these installments of the Pokemon series.

It was the announcement of Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! and the release of the trailer that captivated — and divided — fans, as they are still waiting on some more info regarding the core RPG that is due for release in the latter half of 2019, after being teased during Nintendo’s E3 presentation last year.

As explained during the conference — and shown in the trailer — Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! will take the main aspects of the core RPG series and present them in a way that will be more accessible for audiences newer to the franchise, and those introduced to it via the massively successful mobile app Pokemon Go. Not only that, but it will definitely garner a new wave of fans to play the core series, marking the eighth generation their first generation —and experience — of Pokemon.

But why now? Why situate the move to the Switch so closely after the success of the seventh generation on the 3DS?

In October 2017, Game Freak director Shigeru Ohmori revealed to IGN that Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will be the last core RPG instalments on the 3DS console, making way for the move onto the Nintendo Switch. “… when Sun and Moon came around, we completely redesigned the system, and actually ended up pushing the 3DS even further to what we thought was the most we could draw out of it,” Ohmori explained.

“With Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we’ve tried to eke that out more and really, really push the system to its absolute limits, and we’re now feeling that perhaps this is the maximum of what we can get out.”

This means that what we’re going to see on the Switch is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen in any Pokemon game. The Switch is capable of some incredible feats of gameplay, and a game like Pokemon that’s only just begun to implement 3D mechanics into its RPGs is going to thrive on the Switch. This is already evidenced in the trailer for the game, and even the gameplay featured in that isn’t final yet.

From what we can see in the trailer, it looks as though Let’s Go! will be the perfect introduction for the casual fan, implementing certain parts of the core series into a more accessible RPG experience. Not that the Pokemon games are necessarily hard to grasp, but for a player that has only ever played Pokemon Go or just watched the anime, the core RPGs can be a lot to take in if you haven’t grown up with each generation on differing Nintendo systems.

In an interview with Eurogamer, long-time Pokemon director Junichi Masuda brought up the changes that would be made in the games, and how these changes would benefit the shift to a “kind of casual, lighter experience”, one that kids would latch onto instantly like we all did when our Pokemon journeys began in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. Masuda and the team never want to stray away from Pokemon’s core values, which is making them “fun and appealing for players of all ages, not just to older players and not just to kids.” Keeping the familiarity whilst also introducing new gameplay keeps this balance in check.

It may be slightly annoying that wild Pokemon battles have been eliminated in favour of Pokemon Go style capture opportunities, but then again, the presence of the new Poke Ball joy con and the ability to physically throw a Poke Ball (I know, right?!) is something players both young and old will have never experienced before, alongside the experience of what seems to be instantaneous co-op battling — two-player in a Pokemon RPG has never even crossed my mind before until now.

The same goes for having both Pikachu and Eevee sticking by your side whilst another Pokemon on your team follows. We’ve only ever had either, not both.

There has been a divide across the Pokemon fandom as to whether these are the sort of games that were wanted, but it’s easy to forget that Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! are not the main RPG games. They’re supposed to be presented in a lighter format as an introductory measure, whilst also familiar — and nostalgic — enough to appeal to older fans.  

Imagine all these young kids being introduced to Pokemon by literally starting at the beginning. It all goes back to that wonder and adventure we’ve all already experienced, that we can now pass down to the next generation.

“I imagined that maybe some parents who played Yellow version when they were kids, will now have kids of their own,” Masuda said. “They can kind of remember that adventure and maybe give some hints or tips to their kids that are playing [Pokemon Let’s Go].”

That’s the beauty of this franchise; it’s cross-generational. I’m sure we’ll be given some more insight into the Let’s Go! games on the run-up to its release, but Masuda and the team’s premise and reasoning behind this move on the Switch is enough to make me feel that Pokemon can continue long into the future.

Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! will be released November 16, exclusively for Nintendo Switch. 

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