Can you even remember what it was like to play computer games as a kid? To me it was a puerile time when fart noises were funny, games were fun and the only scrutiny they’d come under was whether or not blowing into a cartridge had any legitimate restorative effects (it did!). Positivity and fun were effortless concepts that no amount of adult pessimism could shake. Now we’ve become jaded by a cynical industry that values commerce not craft. The toxicity that pollutes our resplendent pastime has had such a profound impact that we as a community, one that continues to invest money and time to ensure the preservation of our beloved obsession can’t see when something good happens. Pokémon is the latest series to provoke that same nauseating pessimism of its fans.
I’ve had a clear, preferential and distinct perception of what a console Pokémon game should look and feel like, think “Breath Of The Wild: Gold and Silver”. Pokémon in all of its salubrious forms is a cherished childhood phenomenon. I still have an attic full of trading cards, stored in plastic sleeves in a “pog” binder. And I’ll admit that what I saw of “Let’s Go” really wasn’t what I had envisioned. Combining elements from a traditional Rpg style Pokémon game with its much slandered mobile cousin, “Pokémon Lets Go” is more of a malformed aberration than it is a competent precursor to the future trajectory of the series. This is a game no one asked for, nor even a passing fascination for players, particularly with such a diluted alteration to the traditional mechanics. Though Gamefreak have hastily clarified this isn’t a mainline entry, acting more as a remodelling of the original Pokémon Yellow, you can’t help notice that this is merely a preamble to something greater. A small tentative step onto a composite console Gamefreak themselves weren’t confident would sell. And if we’re honest it’s a smart initiative.
Pokémon Let’s Go is a clever design idea, one that eases the more casual players of “Pokémon Go” in with familiar concepts, breaching into a market that has attracted 200 million downloads to a system that encompasses the constituent versatility of portability. That ambulant freedom afforded by “Pokémon Go” cannot be underestimated nor ignored considering the broadening appeal created by it. When you consider Gamefreak’s hesitancy to commit to the Switch would you not be a little sceptical of a mainline Pokémon game being released so soon? I sure would be.
I’ve personally been very critical of the series over the years, bemoaning its sterility and stagnation. Gamefreak’s reliance on complacent sequels that their dedicated and compliant fan base will purchase without a second thought, and their reluctance to improve the game without subtracting popular functions or slightly elevating the aesthetics has really prevented me from engaging with it in any enthusiastic capacity. So for them to finally approach the brand from a different angle is commendable. It’s an assured risk in the sense that it isn’t deviating drastically from its traditional lineage, but tweaking certain game mechanics that haven’t been adjusted outside of spinoffs, which admittedly feels rather disconcerting, but exciting too.
Nintendo’s decision to expand major properties into the accessible mobile sector they had been so resistant too has turned out to be extremely resourceful for Pokémon, as well as profitable. By allowing brands like this to be moulded in different ways is advantageous for Pokémon as a whole. “Pokémon Let’s Go” promises to be a truly distinctive tangent in the Pokémon contingent, offering something uniquely defined that the franchise has desperately needed for decades! There’s every reason to be optimistic: if its well received we get more, if it isn’t, well the mainline title will be out next year anyway. It will certainly be a divisive iteration, with the potential to ostracize purists who resent the implication that anything needs to change, let alone taking influences from a derided mobile game. But this could be the swift, Hitmonlee kick up the sizeable Snorlax butt the series greatly needs!
If nothing else I’m going to buy six of those poke-ball peripherals just so I can finally live out my dream of becoming the very best, like no one ever was!