I was invited by Nintendo of America to participate in a closed-door demo of their newest titles, one of which was Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu. The demo was set in Viridian Forest, and required use of the new Pokéball Plus accessory. It’s a small, rubbery feeling ball that has an analog stick built into the middle of the device, with the light ring being an LED ring that glows red, yellow, green, and white. There is also a button on top that served mainly as the go back button, but there are also other hidden uses that I was not allowed to test.

What’s the Big Deal With This Game?

Let’s Go Pikachu is a beautiful game that marks the perfect blend between the appearance of the video games and the anime. Crisp visuals and vibrant backdrops make this the best looking Pokémon game by far – there’s no competition. It’s incredibly sharp, and well-detailed. There are a lot of small details that really surprised me, like the slight polish on Pikachu’s back in battle that almost looks like fur.

The gameplay makes this much more Pokémon GO than the traditional core games. As we knew from earlier details, there are no longer wild battles. The wild encounters take place by running into Pokémon in the overworld like a Dragon Quest game. A blue ring denoted a tiny Pokémon, a red ring denoted a big Pokémon. The game also seemed to want to lend a helping hand, by encouraging me to throw a berry at a hard to catch Pokémon. Without berries though, I got the motion to catch down to a T very quickly. I was netting “Great” and “Excellent” quite a bit, and the Nintendo representative was laughing at how I was probably the person who had caught the most Pokémon he had seen so far.

Trainer battles are great, too. The classic Pokémon battle theme is an easy highlight, but I couldn’t enjoy the full range of the soundtrack due to the crowded noises of the show floor going on around me. Attacks like Pikachu’s Thunder Shock looked great, and something interesting that I noted was that all Pokémon share experience.

The game is also a lot easier, understandably to hook in the GO audience. Without the traditional wild battles, it feels strangely lacking. Here’s to hoping we get more information, because once you master the catching mechanic, it already feels like you’ve done a lot of the legwork. I liked the idea of grinding a little bit and leveling that starter to become powerful enough to tackle the Elite Four by myself and I want to see options to scale the difficulty because even in a demo this felt way too easy.