‘Let’s Go! Pikachu & Eevee’ Demo Impressions

I just finished playing the demo for Let’s Go! Eevee!

The demo was restricted to Viridian Forest. Every press member was given 10 minutes and no photos or video were allowed. Each demo was played exclusively with the Poke Ball Plus accessory. You were not allowed to play with the Joy-Con controller because they didn’t want anyone accessing the menus. (I tried.)

As we’ve known for a while, you capture Pokemon by “throwing” your accessory with motion control. I found the experience frustrating, inaccurate, and slower than I imagined. You slip the Poke Ball Plus accessory on to your wrist and put your ring finger into its plastic ring. The accessory must be held with the white part of the Poke Ball facing you. If you don’t know this fact, or don’t pay attention to how you’re holding it, your Ball throws won’t be accurately captured by the sensors.

There’s a learning curve to throwing your Poke Balls — most people I observed “threw” their motion controller much harder than what the game wanted, meaning their Poke Balls went behind the Pokemon. Instead, you have to throw it very delicately — like you’re pointing a pencil’s eraser at someone with your wrist. It didn’t feel very natural or fun. Rather than the game adapting to your style, it feels like you have to learn how to “throw” in the restricted way the programming wants. And even when you do throw your Poke Balls how it wants, they don’t really feel like they’re matching your movement. Perhaps it just takes practice — after all, we were only given 10 minutes.

Perhaps I’m just not used to capturing Pokemon in the GO fashion, or am not the intended demographic for these games, but having to throw Poke Balls felt like an “extra step” that slowed down gameplay. When you’re used to hitting “A” for 20 years, having to now break it down into steps with a motion controller feels frustrating. The Nintendo representative assisting us kept reminding us to use a Berry to entice the Pokemon before capturing it, which made the experience feel even more tedious. It felt like unnecessary “fluff.” A new player who has never played Pokemon will likely enjoy it, and after all, that’s who these games are targeting! For us old farts, it’s a new way to play the game that we’re not used to, so it will probably take longer than 10 minutes to get used to it.

Viridian Forest was depicted beautifully, but it often felt overly busy. You would walk with your Eevee on your shoulder, your Squirtle following you, a bunch of wild Pokemon around you, signs and Trainers to interact with — it felt messy. It was very easy to accidentally run into a wild Pokemon when trying to move from one spot to another, especially when many move. Sometimes characters or Pokemon would be stacked and you didn’t quite understand how to maneuver around them without running into them. It felt like it took much longer to get through the forest than previous games.

Overall though, I only experienced a small piece of the game and didn’t get too much time with it. Playing the game for longer and with more practice might lead to a better experience. For now however, I don’t feel it was as enjoyable as I thought it would be.