Incoming Editor James Law hops into the pilot seat and takes a look at Runner Duck's debut game Bomber Crew, recently released on the Nintendo Switch.Written by James Law on 10th August 2018
Pokémon Migrates to Switch
Gaming Editor Sam Nason covers the announcement of several new Pokémon games
Following a special 90-minute presentation on 30th May, Game Freak unveiled the latest installments in the Pokémon series; Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee editions are both coming exclusively to Nintendo Switch.
The announcement trailer shown gives us an in-depth look at the new titles and the things we can expect from them; inspired by Pokémon Yellow, the RPG sees players returning to the Kanto region in a new 3D reimagining of the region. Pikachu – or Eevee depending on your version – follows you around the region and can be dressed up and customised to the player’s content.
Most surprising in the trailer was that the catching mechanics of the game are lifted heavily from Pokémon GO, as opposed to maintaining the traditional method seen in the series since the originals. Wild battles have been completely removed and trainers now obtain Pokémon through the more simplistic ‘flick a Pokéball’ system seen in the mobile game.
In a similar vein, the game features trading connectivity with GO, allowing players to transfer their Pokémon from mobile to the Switch. The trailer refers to this as sending them to the GO Park, implying this feature perhaps won’t be available until a certain fixed point in the game. As a neat little touch, Pokémon physically appear in the overworld now as opposed to simply being random encounters, making the world feel more alive. Similarly your own Pokémon will once again follow behind you, a la Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
Also featured in a first for the series is a Co-Op feature, allowing two trainers to play in the same world at once; the trailer shows the players exploring together, battling together and catching Pokémon together, with the latter appearing to be made easier by the presence of a second person.
The trailer also introduced us to the Pokéball Plus, a Joy-Con-like device that is compatible with the titles. Apart from being an aesthetically different controller for the game, trainers can also transfer Pokémon over to the accessory and take them out and about with them. While it’s unclear what exactly the benefits of the mechanic are, it could be inferred the Pokéball Plus is similar to HeartGold and SoulSilver’s Pokéwalker, improving experience and friendship of any transferred Pokémon through physical exercise. Given the focus on GO-esque features, such a concept doesn’t seem too outlandish. Another thing left unclear is whether all Pokémon are compatible with the device, or whether it is simply the mascots Pikachu and Eevee. Regardless of its function, the accessory is estimated to cost about $50, a stark contrast to the packaged-in Pokéwalker.
Yet things don’t appear to be completely different; battling mechanics were shown to be the same as ever, with the four-move system and PP returning. The art style, to me at least, suggests a degree of simplicity to the game, which may be part of an attempt to appeal to a more casual crowd. That, and Pokémon GO integration, implies to me Game Freak are looking to combine both audiences, as the core and mobile fanbases have proven to be rather distinct.
While wild battles are absent, trainer encounters will still occur throughout the region. The trailer also showed the player battling Team Rocket, implying the overall narrative and story will probably remain faithful to the original. It’s certainly a different kind of Pokémon game but doesn’t stray too far from its roots.
The changes introduced in the games have seen mixed responses from fans, some applauding the close integration of Pokémon GO mechanics in a core-like game while other fans feel alienated by the direction the series seems to be taking. Crucial to keep in mind is that it was stressed that the Let’s Go games are a different series to the ‘core’ games, with the confirmation that a game ‘in the style of X and Y and Sun and Moon’ is coming in the second half of 2019.
Personally I’m a bit apprehensive – this certainly wasn’t the title I was expecting Game Freak to come out with next, especially its first for the Switch. The GO integration intrigues me yet I fear it takes away a bit of the substance behind training your Pokémon – no longer will you be able to fight wild Pokémon to gain experience, and no longer, I imagine, will levelling occur in the traditional way.
On the other hand the game seems to appeal to both the core and GO fanbases and provides quite an expansive way to use the mobile app more practically. The art style is vibrant and seeing Kanto in full 3D is both mesmerising and nostalgic. Time will tell how the game is received, but it’s nevertheless exciting to see the first Pokémon releases on the Nintendo Switch, as well as reconfirmation of a core title in the works.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! launch on the Nintendo Switch November 16th, 2018.