If Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! look strangely familiar to you, it’s likely because they are. The Nintendo Switch games are modern takes on the classic Pokémon RPGs for Game Boy, released all the way back in 1996. What these games lack in new Pokémon (well, mostly), regions and gym battles, they more than make up for with contemporary conveniences.
It’s hard to shake our Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow nostalgia, but these five upgrades help revolutionize Let’s Go! over its inspirations in the best way possible.
Playing, petting and styling your Pokémon
A Pokémon trainer is nothing without a partner, and that crucial bond is key in Let’s Go!’s two versions. Choose Pikachu, and the electric mouse rides on your shoulder for the entirety of the game. Go with Eevee, and the little fox will hang out on top of your hat ad infinitum. The deepening friendship between trainer and ’mon leads to some battle benefits: Eevee and Pikachu, should they like you enough, can use their love to heal themselves or protect themselves in the middle of a fight, for instance.
The best way to make your partner love you is by playing with it; it’s also the cutest thing you can do in Pokémon: Let’s Go!, already a cute game. Choosing the Play feature invites you to go on and pet, feed and talk to your partner. It’s one of those silly diversions that actually has an in-game benefit.
Best of all? You can dress up your Pokémon in an outfit to match your own, because why not?
No more HMs
It feels like Pokémon as a franchise dumped HMs, or hidden machines, long ago. But the world of Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow remained chained to these moves, which trainers were required to teach a Pokémon in order to continue through the game. Teaching a Pokémon an HM was an irreversible action, which meant that someone would be saddled with a totally useless move like Flash whose sole purpose was to light up caves.
That’s no longer the case with Pokémon: Let’s Go!, finally, which gives us a much faster way of traversing the Kanto region. Your partner Pokémon now learns most of the former HMs that you’ll need, which saves a lot of time, effort and move slots. The rest are taken over by Pokémon that you can ride, something borrowed from Pokémon Sun and Moon. Combined with the similarly new standard of making TMs (technical machines) available for infinite use, Pokémon: Let’s Go! is now the ideal way of exploring Pokémon’s most iconic land.
Pokémon, like many Japanese RPGs, can be slow. Unlike many JRPGs, its story is also ... not always worth sitting around for. No offense to the plot of one of the greatest games of all time, but many of us know exactly what to expect from our journey through Kanto. An option tucked away in the settings menu lets you turn cutscenes off, which saves a whole chunk of time. If you’re someone who just wants to get into battle with trainers and wild Pokémon, also consider turning off battle animations. In essence: This is the speediest version of the original Pokémon games ever.
The Pokémon PC box is obsolete
Remember how you had to boot up the good ol’ PC in the Pokémon Center any time you wanted to swap out one member of your party for another? That’s no longer necessary. You can add or remove Pokémon from your six-member team at will, with the Pokémon Box now attached to you at all times. This is the ultimate time-saver, and it makes me wonder why this wasn’t introduced earlier.
Here, have a Poké Ball
More than any previous Pokémon game, Let’s Go! is about catching as many monsters as you can. That means it’s important to have Poké Balls at hand at all times, which was an expensive enterprise in every previous Pokémon game. To make up for that, Let’s Go! hands out Poké Balls like candy; winning a trainer battle generally comes with a cash reward alongside a handful of Poké Balls, for instance. They’re also scattered all over the place to collect for free. You may run out of those with better catch rates, but if you somehow have fewer than 100 Poké Balls with you at a given time, you may want to re-approach your catching methods — because this game otherwise ensures that you will never be without.