In a Tokyo event held recently, Nintendo, Game Freak, and Niantic gathered Pokemon fans and the press for a major Pokemon announcement.
Rumors of the Pokemon game for the Nintendo Switch surfaced early May 2018, already leaking the title, logo, and registered domain names. Jump to a few weeks later to today, Nintendo and Game Freak officially announced Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu! and Let’s Go Eevee! for the Nintendo Switch. True to its name, the starter Pokemon for each game will be Pikachu and Eevee respectively. Plus, a new accessory, the Pokeball Plus, will also be released simultaneously with the games on November 16, 2018.
The Pokemon Let’s Go! games are not considered part of the “core” Pokemon series, though most of the elements of a core Pokemon game can be seen in these two games. Rather, it’s a reimagining or an overhaul of the classic Pokemon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition of the Game Boy. Let’s Go takes place in the Kanto region, which also closely mirrors the map of the original. The game will feature the original 151 Pokemon species, some of which with their Alolan versions, plus a never-before-seen Pokemon alongside the 151. Newer evolutions, like Blissey or Umbreon, won’t make an appearance; and even the Johto Region has been cut out of the game.
Exploration is as you’d expect with the core Pokemon games. Trainer battles are also still turn-based and having four skills to use per Pokemon. But for the first time, wild Pokemon are now visibly roaming around during exploration. Pokemon catching, however, is now more interactive. When you touch any of the roaming wild Pokemon, the screen will transition to something akin to a Pokemon Go encounter. Following the same mechanics as Pokemon Go, the chances of catching a Pokemon will rely on the skill of throwing the Pokeball through the Joy-Con or the Pokeball Plus motion controls.
Speaking of Pokemon Go, first-generation Pokemon caught from the app can be transferred to Let’s Go. The transferred Pokemon will have to be caught again via the Pokemon Ranch in the Switch game. Shiny and special Pokemon from Go, like the Pikachu with special hats, will also look the same when transferred in Let’s Go. The stats, however, have yet to be determined.
The starter Pikachu and Eevee in Let’s Go are special, in that it doesn’t evolve like its normal/wild versions. Partner Pokemon can easily be stored in the Pokemon Box, made easily accessible since the character carries it with him/her all the time. Further, a secondary Pokemon can be chosen to tag along with the character while exploring, a feature lifted from Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver. Trading across versions is also made available, but the feature is yet to be explained.
A first for the Pokemon games is the inclusion of a drop-in/couch coop feature. With just a shake of the second Joy-Con, a secondary character (always of the opposite gender) can join the first player’s main game to serve as a supporting character. Both characters will be sharing the use of the first player’s Pokemon and can do coop battles against trainers. Both players can also simultaneously catch Pokemon, and receive special bonuses with a successful catch.
There are a few caveats in Let’s Go, however. Pokemon director and producer Junichi Masuda confirmed that HMs will not make a comeback in Let’s Go. EV and IV (effort and individual values) training were still not confirmed, but Masuda stated that he wanted the game to be simplified, which makes this feature somewhat hanging by a thread. Z-Moves and Mega Evolutions are still unconfirmed. And finally, Masuda confirmed that Let’s Go will not be utilizing the Nintendo Online service for now. So, don’t expect any online ranking or ranked battles with this game.
Pokeball Plus Explained
The Pokeball Plus is the latest accessory for Pokemon, a successor to the Pokemon Go Plus accessory for the app. As the name implies, the accessory is shaped like a small Pokeball. The center button serves as a joystick, while a top button is meant for in-game functions. The game, controllable with just one Joy-Con, can also be played just by using the Pokeball Plus.
The ball also has its own gyroscope and accelerometer for Pokemon catching, and a vibration function. The center joystick also has multi-colored LED and a small speaker. When taken out into the open, it shakes, lights up, and emits the sounds of your chosen partner Pokemon.
Finally, the Pokeball Plus also acts the same as the Pokemon Go Plus accessory. It syncs with your Pokemon Go app and helps you detect nearby Pokemon through LED notifications and vibration, without looking at your mobile phone.
A non-removable 220mAh Li-ion battery powers up the Pokeball Plus for an estimated 3 hours. Charging via the Nintendo Switch’s AC adapter is possible.
The accessory is priced at JPY 4980 or roughly USD 45.
More details will most likely pop up over the next few months. Stay tuned here for more info!