What We Liked And Didn't Like About Pokémon Let's Go

Screenshot: Pokémon Lets Go, Game Freak

Mike Fahey and I have been battling all up and down Kanto in Pokémon Let’s Go. Now that our respective quests are at an end, we sat down to talk about Master Trainers, playing with kids, and how weird Pokémon type weaknesses are.

Gita Jackson: Hey Fahey! It’s amazing to be in the presence of another Pokémon Champion. Now that we’ve both finished the game, pet our Eevees hundreds of times, and defeated Team Rocket, what do you think you’re going to do next in Pokémon Let’s Go, if anything at all?

Mike Fahey: Find a nice bench to sit down on and while away the hours remembering my adventures. Watch the sun go down over Pallet town, Eevee sitting in my lap. He’s getting grey and isn’t as active as he once was, but we’ll face the sunset together. Or I’ll continue catching them all. There are still a bunch to catch.

Gita: How many have you caught so far?

Fahey: Are we talking total with duplicates, or percentage of Pokédex completed?

Gita: Percentage of Pokédex. I’m not a monster.

Fahey: I have obtained 80, and seen 144. So wow, I only have eight more to see. Then I can rest my weary head.

LOL (Screenshot: Pokémon Let’s Go, Game Freak)

Gita: When I was a kid, I thought 151 was such a huge, impossible number. Compared to the amount of Pokémon there are now, that’s nothing. And I feel like the game spawns a reasonable amount of monsters so that you’ll end up seeing most of them before the end. I’ve caught 70, by the way. Gotta catch up to you.

Fahey: You’ve made up for it in quality. I have seen plenty, but I still have what, 72 to catch? And I will need to catch them in order to participate in what passes for Pokémon Let’s Go’s endgame.

Gita: Yeah, god, let’s talk Master Trainers. Have you tried to fight any of them yet?

Fahey: I have walked past many of them, let’s just say that. I have yet to be in a position where I’ve stumbled upon a Master Trainer of one of the levelled-up Pokémon in my party. I guess I have a lot of grinding to do. How about you?

Gita: I’m in the same boat. I really want to find the Eevee Master Trainer to test my mettle, though. Someone I spoke to recently told me that they’d only been able to beat one Master Trainer so far, so it seems like the challenge is there. It’s just such a weird, artificial construction.

When you fight a Master Trainer, they only have one Pokémon, and you have to try to beat it with that same Pokémon. You can’t use anyone else in your party.

In theory it’s a good challenge, but in practice it’s just a weird, super-hard thing at the end of a relatively easy game. I don’t know if it’s worth my time to actually invest in it.

Fahey: While we have been talking, I found the Rhyhorn Master Trainer. He told me the Rhyhorn I had seemed strong and challenged me to a fight. Thing is, my Rhyhorn is level 21. His is level 70. So yeah, that’s a whole hell of a lot of work.

And yes, I was one-shotted.

Gita: Good lord.

Screenshot: Pokémon Let’s Go, Game Freak

Fahey: Yeah. Your Pokémon heals up after the battle, so at least it doesn’t leave you stuck with a Pokécorpse until you hit the Pokémon Center.

Gita: Well that’s nice, at least. Speaking of one-shotting—I think we both knew this game was going to be divisive, but I was not prepared for how frequently I was going to one-shot literally every Pokémon in every single battle.

I’m in two minds on the combat, but did Let’s Go strike you as easier than the previous games? I know that hardcore fans have been decrying these games for children for getting easier over the years.

Fahey: I’d say it was a little easier than previous games. My Jinx has a move called Double-Edge, which kills most things pretty quickly, especially with the amount of stat-enhancing candy I’ve fed him. Candy is killer in this joint.

But I think part of it is how well long-time players know their stuff. Exploiting weaknesses has always made the game easier. If I am going into the fire gym, I’m bringing Kabutops, a ground/water Pokémon, and he’s going to tear shit up.

Gita: I think it might be hard for longtime fans of Pokémon to separate just how well they know this game from the actual design of the game. If we’re being honest, most type match-ups don’t make a lick of sense. Why are flying type Pokemon weak to ice?

Fahey: Flying is weak to ice the same way a plane’s wings will ice over in the winter! It’s why birds migrate.

Perfect sense, as long as you can twist your mind around it. But a lot of them, not a lick. Steel is weak to fighting? What? I will admit, I played with a list of weaknesses open on my phone.

Gita: I Googled every single one (except, like, plants being weak to fire). I am not ashamed. Fahey, you played a lot with your actual son, though. Was it easier or harder for him to work the particularities of this game? Or did he, like a lot of children, just not care about that kind of stuff?

Fahey: Oh, poor Seamus. He is not good with decisions. When faced with a set of four moves, he looked to me to pick one. I think he picked up on some weaknesses over time, but decisions make him freeze up. I bet if I got him a Pokémon reference book he’d have them all memorised in days, though.

I’ve been playing Pokémon Go lately on my phone, trying to gather monsters to add to my Switch game, and I am seeing creatures I have never encountered before. Or I just forgot. God I am old.

Screenshot: Pokémon Let’s Go, Game Freak

Gita: It really struck me playing Let’s Go how Pokémon designs started weird, but they definitely got weirder and worse over the years. Like in the original 151, there are some weird ideas, but most of the time I can identify the pun or cultural story they’re based on. But in the later games... Honedge? That thing is just a floating sword. Come the heck on.

Fahey: Several of the creatures I am capturing in Pokémon Go look like colourful roaches, which is...great.

Pokémon Let’s Go is a purer experience, though. It is that original 151. It is an introduction to a world where no one can stop talking about Pokémon. It’s streamlined and simplified, sure, but it’s still got that classic feel. I will always cherish the original Red and Blue grind, but this is a nice, relaxing way to revisit a classic.

Gita: In my review I tried to place Let’s Go in the context of not just the rest of the games, but what Pokémon means to people outside those in video game fandom.

I know a lot of people, especially women my age, who don’t consider themselves gamers but still play Pokémon. One of my friends even asked for a 3DS specifically for Pokémon and nothing else for Christmas a few years back.

It’s important to understand that Let’s Go is not just serving us, people who play tons of games and are obsessed with these Pocket Monsters, but people who basically play one game. I think it does its job of selling Switches to those people and introducing them to a more modern Pokémon very well.


    People rush to Ninty's defence on the mechanics and how easy \ relaxing the game is.

    Being honest though, this could have easily have been fixed by just giving people both options at the start of the game.

    Do you want to battle random pokemon? and a difficulty level slider.

    Its 2018, its easy to do both, and Ninty shouldn't be defended for its backward choices.

    The game is getting heavily review bombed on Metacritic for being far too easy and shallow in it's catching mechanics.

    Honestly it feels like the game was made by Niantic as an advert for the app and not Game Freak.

    Before I type the rest of this, I just want to say I am very much looking forward to Gen 8 and the (presumably) more typical experience that will come with it.

    Loved: Pokemon following you, visual style/presentation, overworld Pokemon/no random encounters,

    Liked: Chaining wild Pokemon mechanic, Master trainers, catching mechanics (so sue me)

    Disliked: We don't have Let's Go games for all other gens

    As an avid, long time (ha, 6 years, but have gotten all games except R/B/Y and D&P) player...this game is something I can finish in my sleep. It's pretty, and has some interesting mechanics, but yeah. Pretty damn easy. A bit disappointing, to be honest.

    As a father of a Pokemon obsessed 6 year old, who has been trying to play the games for years (notably Sun/Moon and remade Ruby/Sapphire) and failing miserably due to the grind and mechanics - this game is an absolute god send. Easily gotten into, teaches the basics of the core games but never loses the fun...GOTY for a father/son combo. Absolute GOTY.

      I think what you said is something people dont understand. This is a game my wife, younger children or people who aren't hardcore gamers can play and have fun with. Not saying everyone else can't enjoy it (I love it) but the internet needs to understand that not everything is aimed at the hardcore crowd.

      i think it's about capturing those 6yos that's important to nintendo. Build a future pipeline, you see? That said though, I whole-heartedly congratulate your father and son experience :).

    Part of me wonders how much of the 'this game is easy' stems from people just being better at the game and knowing the type match-ups. I'll concede that it definitely feels easier, but whether it's difficulty is much the same as it's always been is a little trickier to tell.

    You look at WoW, where Molten Core used to be bloody hard, but a current day raid team would go in and smash it out in a little over an hour because they're better organised, have a much better understanding of their class and are better at doing mechanics.

    I do sincerely hope they keep the 'seeing pokemon in the real world' aspect moving forward, it's beautiful. The catching though, I confess it's far more enjoyable than I thought it would be, but if I was forced to use a motion control capture system to fill an 800+ strong pokedex... let's just say the pleasure palm would be getting a much more strenuous workout than usual.

    By far the thing I am most enamored with though is the theme from the online lobby. Not 2 days before I picked up the game, I was lamenting how we'd never hear the gameboy printer error theme and how much I enjoyed it's playfulness. Lo and behold, upon entering an online trade, my ears perked up to the familiar doooooooo, do doooooooo before kicking into a more modern spin on what was ultimately a PC speaker 8 octave limited jig.

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