Pokemon Let’s Go is a Disappointment Salad Covered in Nostalgia Sauce

Pokemon Lets Go Disappointment

The Fall of 1999 was an exciting time for me. Every morning, my friends and I would climb on the bus with fancy new portable electronic wonder boxes called Game Boys and inside every single one was a red, blue, or yellow cartage that was a portal to a world that I’d never leave. Battling, trading, and catching them all was a cultural phenomenon that never died out with a core audience of 20-somethings who still remember those days on the bus. Fast-forward 20 years and Game Freak and Nintendo are trying to resell us that experience all over again, but with none of the depth or creativity of the the original games that captured our hearts.

Pokemon Let's Go - Misty Battle

The announcement that Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee would take place in the well-known Kanto region was a mixed bag for many hardcore Pokemon fans, myself included. What we thought would be the newest installment to the Pokemon franchise following Ultra Sun/Moon turned out to be a rehash of the old game we grew up playing, with elements of the Pokemon Go mobile game tacked on. While we all have a fondness for the land where we first met the magical monsters that transformed our lives and cost us thousands of dollars in playing cards, video games, and merchandise over the years, the reveal was widely seen as a cash-grab to appeal to the Pokemon Go crowd rather than a full-fledged entry to the series.

Pokemon Red and Blue versions had already been re-made and repackaged into some of the best remakes ever with Pokemon Fire Red and Leaf Green back in 2004. A remake of Pokemon Gold and Silver followed suit with Heart Gold and Soul Silver and received critical and cultural acclaim. Those of us who grew up on the original Red and Blue have collectively adventured through 10 games over 20 years that featured Kanto prominently as a playable region.

Kanto Appearances by Game

Kanto Map

  • Pokemon Red – 1998
  • Pokemon Blue – 1998
  • Pokemon Yellow – 1999
  • Pokemon Gold – 2000
  • Pokemon Silver – 2000
  • Pokemon Crystal – 2001
  • Pokemon FireRed – 2004
  • Pokemon LeafGreen – 2004
  • Pokemon HeartGold – 2010
  • Pokemon SoulSilver – 2010

Long story short, Kanto has been done to death, and the constant pandering to the Gen 1 crowd is getting old and shows a desperate lack of risk-taking behavior.

Missing the Mobile Craze Window

In addition to an overdone environment, the Pokemon Go mobile craze has already come and gone, leaving the quirky gameplay mechanics of the Let’s Go series woefully uninteresting. Had Pokemon Let’s Go been a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, it may have had more of an opportunity to cash in on the app’s success, which hit its peak in 2017 and experienced a steady decline in active users ever since. The Nintendo Switch’s March 2017 release date would have coincided perfectly with the peak of the app’s success.

Overall, Pokemon Go actually isn’t a bad game, but it is disappointing. A lack of original storytelling is a huge turnoff when fans have already played through this exact same story over and over again. There’s a lot to build on for what we all hope will be the “real” next entry to the Pokemon franchise, but none of it has to do with the gimmicky catching mechanics or the recycled story and environment. Additions like the traditional overworld sprites and the ability to have your Pokemon follow you around (see: HeartGold/SoulSilver) are great additions to the franchise that I’d love to see stick around permanently. Check out our review of Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee to see what Game Freak did right with the first Switch entry to their franchise.

Let us know what you thought about the latest Pokemon game in the comments below.

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