E3 2018: Becoming a Pokémon Master in Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!


After getting to the South Hall of the LA Convention Center early in the morning, I played the new Pokémon game after a relatively short wait (it was way worse in the afternoon). When I reached the front of the line, I was instructed to approach a docked Nintendo Switch and a TV where a Nintendo staff member was waiting. She explained that I was going to be playing Let's Go, Pikachu! (the version I would probably get) and I was also going to be using the new Poké Ball Plus controller.

The Poké Ball Plus controller was a lot smaller than I anticipated. I put the wrist strap on, like any other Joy-Con, but there was also an additional loop just for your ring finger. This allowed me to have a good grip on the controller. The Poké Ball Plus also didn't have any buttons on it except the joystick, which also clicks in to register as the A button. After the demo loaded, I was about to enter the Viridian Forest. This setting made sense because both Let's Go games will feature the Kanto region and the original 150 Pokémon. However, before I entered the forest, I noticed that I had Pikachu on my shoulder… and Charmander following me! It turns out you can have Pikachu on your shoulder and an additional Pokémon follow you around, Pokémon Yellow style.

After I entered, the first thing I noticed was that the forest was teeming with Pokémon. You no longer had to wade through the tall grass, hoping for a rare Butterfree to show up, only to be disappointed with a Caterpie. Instead, I could avoid all the Pidgeys and Metapods on screen and go straight for Butterfree. Once you encounter a Pokémon, you transition to a very familiar screen. I got very strong Pokémon Go vibes, complete with the constantly shrinking circle target. I'm not sure if it's because Butterfree was rarer than the other Pokémon in the area or if it was because he was a flying type, but he didn't just stay in the middle of the screen. Instead, he would float from side to side, making it crucial for you to time your throw correctly.

The staff instructed me that I could throw the Poké Ball overhanded or underhanded. I opted for an overhanded throw, but the mechanics were a bit awkward. Instead of winding up and throwing the Poké Ball, I had to hold my hand above my head, like I was in the middle of a throw, click in the joystick, and then finish my throwing motion. It took a bit of getting used to. I was told a fast throwing motion made it easier for the Nintendo Switch. After using a raspberry and well-timed "Excellent" throw, Butterfree was mine, confirmed by the vibrations and green light on the Poké Ball Plus controller. I could also hear his unique cry from the controller. After I captured him, all my Pokémon gained experience points. I was also told you can gain experience by placing a Pokémon in your Poké Ball Plus controller and taking it with you into the real world.

After capturing Butterfree, I spotted another Pikachu not far away. I ran over to capture it and when it popped on screen, the staff member exclaimed that it was female, indicated by its heart-shaped tail. Unfortunately, she got away after just one "Good" Poké Ball throw. I decided to try out the battle system and started one with the Bug Trainer. My Charmander made short work of his Caterpie with a devastating fire-based Ember attack. Again, all my Pokémon got experience points after the battle. I was told by the staff member that you could play with a friend in 2-player local co-op. Both players can have characters on screen and can team up for battles. My demo came to an end, but before I left, the staff member also mentioned that I could connect the Poké Ball Plus to the Pokémon GO mobile app to catch Pokémon in the real world and gather items from Poké Stops without viewing my smartphone screen.

I played Pokémon Yellow when it was released, and I also got into the Pokémon GO craze two summers ago. Let's Go, Pikachu! felt like a well-done fusion of those two games. It may not have been particularly difficult, but the updated graphics and different gameplay mechanics allow you to take a nostalgic trip back to your childhood.

Be the very best, like no one ever was, on November 16, 2018. You can preorder now. You can also grab the Poké Ball Plus controller on the same day, separately or in a bundle.

In the Comments section, below, let us know which version will you be purchasing and if you will also get the Poké Ball Plus controller.

See more of our E3 coverage here.

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