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Pokemon Let's Go Isn't the Gen 8 Pokemon Switch Game We Wanted, but Maybe It Is Needed

Before Rapidash can learn to gallop, Ponyta must learn to trot. Game Freak isn't much different.

Opinion by Nadia Oxford, .

A deluge of Pokemon news rushed from Japan yesterday evening. After the scurry to translate the presentation, sort the games, and then tweet about them, a picture of the Pokemon franchise's immediate and distant future emerged.

The first talked-about game, Pokemon Quest, is a free-to-start adventure game for the Nintendo Switch that utilizes simplified voxel-style graphics. The longed-for Generation 8 will arrive in the second half of 2019. And sandwiched in between is Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Let's go Eevee, which appear to be Pokemon Red / Blue / Yellow remakes coming to the Nintendo Switch on November 16.

Pokemon Let's Go initial reveal kicked off a brief panic on social media as fans wondered if the game encapsulates all of Game Freak's plans for Pokemon on the Switch. Once it became clear Pokemon Let's Go is supposed to help ease us through the long waiting period for Gen 8, we exhaled in relief. Then we began looking at Pokemon Let's Go with clearer eyes.

"We're here to collect your debt to the mob."

There are two reasons I'm looking forward to Pokemon Let's Go. First, I think it's a perfect Gen 8 training ground for Game Freak and fans. Game Freak is presumably deep into whatever it has planned for Gen 8 by this point, but that doesn't mean the release of Let's Go won't teach the veteran developers some valuable lessons about bringing Pokemon onto Nintendo's latest system. The trailer for Let's Go even gives us an idea of how Pokemon trading and battling might work in Gen 8. Namely, when it's time for our Pokemon experience to go portable, we'll be reaching for our smartphones instead of our Switches.

Though the Switch is portable, it's not as easy to tote around as every other system Pokemon's thrived on to date. I can pop the Nintendo 3DS into my purse; the Switch, not so much. That's probably why Let's Go interfaces with Pokemon Go and lets you transfer Pokemon from Niantic's game to Let's Go's "Go Park." It's unclear what your Pokemon can do in Go Park beyond send gifts back to Pokemon Go players, but I foresee a future wherein Pokemon are transferred from the Switch to a phone app—maybe Pokemon Go, maybe another app entirely—for ease of trading and fighting other players.

That's not to say we won't be able to trade Pokemon from Switch-to-Switch (Let's Go's couch co-op also suggests a future where we battle on the same console), just that the ultra-portable option might be there for whomever wants it.

Pikachu or Eevee? Eevee, obviously. ...Is this a trick question?

Transferring Pokemon to our phones might even let us train them indirectly like we did with Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver's PokéWalker accessory. I admit the PokéWalker came to my mind when I saw the PokéBall Plus accessory in the trailer, but it doesn't look like the ball is equipped with a pedometer. That's a shame but taking nice strolls on the beach while your Pokemon gets buff is still a possibility for the future. I already build up my Pokemon through walking in Pokemon Go. The longer you walk with a chosen Buddy, the more Candy you earn. The more Candy you have, the more you can power-up your Pokemon. It's a good incentive for getting more exercise, and if Niantic can find ways to get us off the couch, Game Freak sure as heck can, too.

Even though it lacks a pedometer, the PokéBall Plus accessory and its (hopefully optional) motion control scheme makes it clear Game Freak is fishing for a young audience with Pokemon Let's Go—even younger than what's typical for Pokemon games. Far from being a detriment, Let's Go's target audience is the second reason why I'm interested in the game.

From my angle, another big reason Game Freak cooked up Let's Go is to introduce kids to Pokemon via the region most familiar to their parents: Kanto. Kanto is the most recognizable Pokemon region, and it's the least cluttered. You hit the road quickly, you're rarely interrupted by story exposition, and the rules are simple to understand. Let's Go's (again, hopefully optional) motion controls and PokéBall accessory make the game even more appealing for young trainers. Add in that option for couch co-op, and I envision a Christmas season with a lot of parents taking their kids on their first Pokemon journey.

"Well, I'm boned."

I'm always happy to see new players enter the fold—and as someone who's more into collecting Pokemon for the "cool" factor, I'm not against indulging in Let's Go's hardcore nostalgia factor while also appreciating its simpler roots.

We've got some time until Pokemon Let's Go comes to the Switch, and there's an even longer wait for Pokemon Gen 8. Let's Go might not be exactly what every Pokemon fan wants for the series' first big game on the Switch, but I think it's an important detour for Game Freak to make if it wants to learn everything it needs to know to give us a top-notch Gen 8 experience. After all, expectations for the game will be higher than a Rayquaza riding the jet stream. Who knows—we may all wind up having a lot of fun come November.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for marathedemon #1 marathedemon 4 months ago
    I hope the younger intended audience of Lets Go means that pokemon proper is allowed to be a little more adult. I feel like we have hints of it in Sun and Moon, what with the Nightmare Fuel pokedex entries and some wink wink nudge nudge dialogue, but they were still stuck with the super hand-holding get one of three starters and fight the gyms (“trials” whatever) then fight the elite 4 story path. I’m HOPING that the main series can split into the easier Lets Go games for kids with the classic progression and MAYBE the main games can allow for different ways to play (a contest story line perhaps?).
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  • Avatar for LunarFlame17 #2 LunarFlame17 4 months ago
    I'm honestly very excited for this. I've been playing a lot of harder games lately, and frankly the idea of a more laid back experience is very appealing to me right now. Pokemon Let's Go! seems like the perfect game to accompany relaxing in my recliner at the end of a long day.
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  • Avatar for camchow #3 camchow 4 months ago
    wait if a minute, if a pokemon got hit with 2 pokeballs at the exact same time, would it be ripped apart at a molecular level?
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #4 The-Challenger 4 months ago
    @marathedemon I expect an open-world, and some form of space exploration. Maybe the next game will take place on a colony in space.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #5 MetManMas 4 months ago
    I definitely get what Pokémon Let's Go is going for. This is a game for kids and parents who either are Pokémon fans or were lapsed Pokémon fans back in Gen 1 to play together. It's a Gen 1 remake that's a middle ground between the generational games and the spinoff games.

    Honestly, I'm pretty excited about this. Arceus knows the series has acquired a ton of bloat over the years, so it'll be nice to get back to the basics. Even if it's only for one game.
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  • Avatar for Natabuu #6 Natabuu 4 months ago
    Basically, this is like when Altus made Catherine to learn HD development in advance of Persona 5.
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  • Avatar for TheWildCard #7 TheWildCard 4 months ago
    @marathedemon That would be cool to see paired with a real evolution of the series (like a quasi-open world approach lots of people dream about) but I think we know the chances of that happening are close to nil.

    There's some logic in reaching out to all those Go players, but I get why bringing in Go mechanics (which pretty much everyone agrees aren't actually very good) into a sort of core game is going to alarm the faithful.

    Me, I was already bored of all the gen one nostalgia nods in the last two gens, so a whole remake of Yellow doesn't do anything for me, especially if it only has the original pokemon lineup. And while I'm kinda bummed Pokemon has been a dreaded annual franchise for awhile now, there probably are good lessons from these games GF can take to the gen 8 games. I just hope those games are a bigger jump graphically and structure-wise.
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  • Avatar for BulkSlash #8 BulkSlash 4 months ago
    As long as I don’t actually have to use the motion controls or play Pokemon Go on my phone I’m keen to play this.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #9 NiceGuyNeon 4 months ago
    I am at a crossroads. When I had Pokemon Yellow I refused to evolve Pikachu because he was my best friend (in the game, I was a normal child people, chill) and I leveled him to 99 and my Eevee was always evolved to Flareon because Flareon is the most regal and I deserve to act like royalty (it was my alternative to not having Charmander, my favorite choice among the starters). But I realize now that evolution via stone is a tragedy and will never do it again. No pokemon deserves to be forced to evolve. If they don't choose to evolve naturally than who allowed us to play god and force it upon them? WHO??

    I remember reading a Pokemon comic as a kid where the fourth little brother was in a family where each brother was trying to force him to evolve his Eevee but he didn't want to because Pokemon are not the same when you evolve them, they're DIFFERENT THINGS ALTOGETHER. And with the help of Ash, Pikachu, Misty and Brock the kid proved to his family he didn't have to evolve his Eevee.

    SO NOW I HAVE NO IDEA WHICH BEAUTIFUL BABY I WANT TO HAVE FOLLOW ME AS MY FRIEND (in the game, i swear I'm normal) AND NEED INPUT! Because I'm never evolving either of them ever! Do I go with Pikachu, perfection designed and relive my childhood or do I go with Eevee to make amends for forcing her to become Flareon 20 years ago?

    I have until November and the arguments in terms of total cuteness are equally compelling on both sides. Any help is appreciated. Thank you and godspeed.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #10 riderkicker 4 months ago
    @NiceGuyNeon One Pokemon comic I read had a Pikachu willingly evolve into a Raichu. Then again, the Red in the story was ridiculously competent.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #11 NiceGuyNeon 4 months ago
    @riderkicker tbh I think in Yellow if you tried to evolve Pikachu it would resist and then I read that comic and was like I can't force them! I was 8 lol

    I think it would be a cool trust mechanic or something though in the games to get them to accept the evolution vs forcing them. Maybe they get some stats boost or something.
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  • Avatar for austineafford63 #12 austineafford63 A month ago
    Is it true they are going to have brand new mega evolve Pokémon in this game? if so,I sure hope they don't come up with Mega Flareon,Jolteon and Vaporeon because that would be unfair.And plus Alolan Raichu,Persian and Golem is already enough.
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