Saturday, December 22, 2018

How Let's Go renewed my interest in Pokémon

When Pokémon: Let's Go was revealed earlier this year, I paid it no mind.

My lack of interest had nothing to do with me being too cool, hardcore, or even old, mind you. Instead, it had to do with my, erm, "complicated" relationship with this long-running series.

You see, although I've bought a lot of Pokémon games over the years, I've barely played--let alone completed--most of them.

A few cases in point: before Let's Go, the only Pokémon title I ever "beat" was Red. I got close with Black, but became distracted as I approached its finale. All the rest, though? Well, I put about seven hours into X, and maybe four into Diamond and Emerald. Meanwhile, my copies of SoulSilver, Black 2, and Moon all remain unopened and unexplored.

Now my initial shoulder-shrugging in regard to Let's Go makes a lot more sense, right?

The thing is, although I was frosty toward this Switch remake at first, I thawed on it shortly after copies finally hit stores. Why? Glowing word of mouth, to be frank. Plus, screens and video footage of the game made it look like a lot of fun.

So, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I handed 60 big ones to the evil superpower known as Amazon for a copy of Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! and then (impatiently) waited for it to arrive on my doorstep.

Based on all of the above, you might assume the first few minutes I spent with this title were the gaming equivalent of love at first sight. They weren't.

In fact, after putting about an hour into it, I was wondering what on earth I'd done in buying it. I found it boring and slow. Honestly, if I hadn't spent so much money on it, I would've popped its cartridge out of my Switch and never looked back. Because I did drop a wad of cash on it, though, I stuck with it. A few hours later, I was all but smitten.

I can't point out to you the exact moment when my opinion of Let's Go, Eevee! changed, sadly. All I know is that I began one play session with a yawn and ended it with a grin splashed across my face.

That grin stayed in place for most of the next 40 or so hours I spent with the game, too.

I "blame" its charming cast of characters--the eponymous monsters, especially--for most of the pain I endured as a result of that days-long smile-fest, by the way. What can I say? There's just something about how the original 151 Pokémon creatures are depicted here that makes me happy.

The same could be said about the new, Pokémon Go-ish capture mechanism. A lot of people despise it, I know. I adore it. In the past, I often found the "wear 'em down until they're just about to faint" aspect of this series' random encounters to be draining. That's no longer an issue here.

Also, combining that aspect with wild Pokémon that are visible on the overworld map makes progressing through the game a breeze.

Are those three components really enough to change someone's mind on this series? I can't speak for anyone else, but for me that's certainly been the case--much to my own surprise, I have to admit.

Will my renewed interest in all things Pokémon (or at least some things Pokémon) remain strong if the mainline game that follows in the footsteps of Let's Go in late 2019 drops either or both of these last two bullet points from the back of its brightly colored box? I honestly don't know.

I can assure you I'll approach it with an open mind, though. And who knows? Maybe I'll walk away from it 50 or so hours later (as I did after I finished Let's Go recently) feeling like I got my money's worth from the purchase--something I've rarely been able to say about Pokémon games.