The release of Pokemon: Let's Go seems suitably well timed. Just as many Pokemon Go players are reaching the Level 40 level cap, Let's Go now offers them a way of broadening their Pokemon experience by introducing them as individuals and families to the turn-based battles most familiar from Pokemon Yellow – one of the original Pokemon Gameboy core role-playing games (RPGs).

Like Pokemon Yellow, the setting for the Let's Go is the Kanto region with its original 151 Pokemon available to catch. Gamers who've played Yellow on the Gameboy are sure to have their heartstrings tugged at the familiarity of Pallet Town and other locations, including the maze that is Viridian Forest and spooky Lavendar Town – all of which are inhabited by gym leaders including Misty and Brock, waiting to test your trainer prowess and your party of Pokemons fighting power.

Those who haven't played the main series before will enjoy the RPG aspects of Let's Go. Be sure to talk to everyone within the game because that's how you'll find the finest outfits and important information. Trading with non-playable characters (NPCs) is a sure way to pick up some Alohan Pokemon originally seen in Pokemon Sun and Moon.

Which to choose: Pikachu or Eevee?

As you may have spotted, Let's Go comes in two forms: Pikachu and Eevee. Like the core Pokemon Red and Blue games, there are Pokemon which can only be found in each version of the title, so pick your core game carefully. You can't switch later either – it's a physical purchase with different content within and each lead Pokemon following you in-game. Being able to ride a giant Arcanine in the Pikachu version was the deal-breaker for us.

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In addition you can have up to six Pokemon in your party at one time, who will benefit from the experience points (XP) awarded for catching and battling other Pokemon and trainers.  In a commendable move by Nintendo these Pokemon keep their corresponding scale when they're walking or interacting with you: Haunters, for example, will tower above you menacingly.

Walking or riding between towns or cities sees plenty of Pokemon constantly in view and on the prowl. You can choose to avoid or catch them instead of there being random encounters like those found in the core games. If you are in a hurry and want to avoid encounters use a repel potion to keep them at bay.

Gotta catch 'em all

One huge change between the original Pokemon games and Let's Go is the catching of Pokemon. In past games it was important to weaken a wild Pokemon with one of your party before throwing a Poké Ball to instigate a catch. In Let's Go, Pokemon in the wild are now caught Pokemon Go-style with the Poké Ball Plus controller (sold separately for £50/$50 or bundled with the game for £85/$100); they're not battled.

Depending on the level and traits of the wild Pokemon the catch circle displays green to red. Use berries and different ball types to increase your catch rate. These berries and balls can be purchased in the towns and collected in the wild. Changing out to an ultra ball is essential if a shiny Pokemon shows up.

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As much as the battling of familiar foes such as Team Rocket and their minions is familiar and enjoyable, the battling itself sometimes seems simplified and unchallenging, unless you're facing a Gym Leader. The simplification of this core aspect of the game is undoubtably to get the Nintendo Switch into the hands of younger players and introduce the Pokemon RPG to a first-time and increasingly family-focused audience.

Veteran Pokemon trainers may moan about the lack of Pokemon breeding and lack of competitiveness, but we can't see Pokemon Go players passing up the opportunity to take the Poké Ball Plus controller out with them to automatically spin stops and collect items.

Linkage with Pokémon Go

Pokemon Go Players will also be keen to get their hands on Let's Go, as it's possible to transfer Pokemon from the former to latter in special circumstances.

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For example, Meltan – the god-like metal Pokemon who never misses arm day at the gym – is available, but you'll need to be on your game to make it happen. In Pokemon Go players must play through the game until they get to Fuchsia City and Go Park, which is where you can transfer Pokemon into Let's Go. This transfer triggers the release of a Mystery Box that allow players to encounter Meltan in the wild for 30mins – but this opportunity is only available once a week.

You can also transfer any Kanto Pokemon from Go to Let's Go, but it will be reset to level one – so don't expect to transfer your 100 IV 4000cp Dragonite with impunity, as you won't be able to transfer it back. Once transferred those Pokemon will reside in Go Park, a replacement for the Safari Zone, and are available to be caught within Let's Go.

Co-op play

Sometimes it's lonely being a trainer and you're definitely going to need a hand battling The Elite Four. These tougher battles are where the introduction of a new co-operative mode, called Support Play, has some impact. A friend can drop in at the shake of a Joy Con controller, ready to explore and battle at your side.

Playing co-operative mode allows you to practice your skills at throwing Pokemon balls simultaneously – this increases the chances of catching Pokemon, and will probably result in sore hands from so many high-fives. If Players want to trade Pokemon and battle online, they will have to purchase a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

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The Elite Four are Pokemon masters who are specialists in different types of Pokemon – including Ice, Fighting, Ghost and Dragon types – and are the gateway to becoming the ultimate Pokemon Champion. You must defeat them to start taking on The Pokemon Masters of each type of Pokemon.

All Pokemon trainers want the elusive mythical Pokemon Mew and you may well have caught it after completing special research tasks in Pokemon Go. However, it's not transferable and the only way to catch Mew in Let's Go is with the Poké Ball Plus, where it's hidden. How about that as an incentive to buy?

Verdict

Pokemon: Let's Go is successfully combines a variety of different game mechanics into something engaging and modern – though not always particularly challenging.

The Poke Ball Plus controller is an awesome edition to any trainer's battle chest and makes catching and battling Pokemon an interactive, immersive and enjoyable experience.

Pick your title carefully, though, as Pikachu and Eevee are the same core games but with different content and opportunities within. Cynics might see that as a money spinner, but it's long been a staple within Pokemon games.

Pokémon: Let's Go Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee! will be available exclusively for Nintendo Switch from 16 November 2018.


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