Nostalgia Done Right: Falling in Love With Pokemon Again

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I am old. Don’t let my round and soft face fool you, I am old. I remember being an 8 year old in the 90s and getting a magenta gameboy color and a copy of Pokemon Blue from my parents. I was a sickly child and that meant I spent time on nebulizers and time indoors because of the miasma: my parents figured it would make those times a little less miserable and it indeed did. I have since played nearly every Pokemon game that has been released. That has taken me on a decades long journey through 7 regions now with hits or misses along the way. If you’ve read my blog, you know how disappointed I was in the game Pokemon: Sun/Moon and Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon and how disappointed I was with the games’ reliance on weaponized nostalgia.  

So when Nintendo announced that they would be rebooting Pokemon Yellow in the guise of a new game for the Nintendo Switch: I was cautiously optimistic. Pokemon Yellow was a hugely influential game for the late 1990s, it was the first Pokemon game that let you have a starter that wasn’t the main three (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle) and you start with a Pikachu that will run around with you as less of a tool and more as a partner. The game was wildly popular and since my generation is old now and has money, our nostalgia is ripe for the picking.

Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu/ Eevee was adorable from the start. The game lets you choose an unconventional starter in either Pikachu or in a franchise first, Eevee. The game has updated graphics, and very smart gameplay: it’s also integrated into Pokemon Go, a game I play to ignore reality and to fend off catcallers. Let’s Go from the start is a stunning game. The opening animations made me squeal with delight. And the moment that Eevee chose me as her partner brought me to a moment of joy I’ve only felt once before and that was while playing Pokemon: Moon and having Rowlett (my son) jump into my arms and coo sweetly.  The gameplay is really smart, using the Switch’s touch-screen and joy-con remotes that are like a WiiMote that actually works. It’s amazing being able to flick my wrist and it throw a Pokeball. The main thing that’s different is that this game feels a lot like Pokemon Go in places: normally, you’d battle Pokemon with your Pokemon but now it’s more about just catching and then using your Pokemon to battle other trainers. The game does also seem to be toned down a little: there are now some requirements to even enter the gym that nearly ensures your success and early into the game I’ve so far been given three Pokemon that are highly desirable and incredibly nostalgic. Those aren’t negatives for casuals like me but I’m sure if you’re looking for a less hand-holding game (looking at you, Pokemon Sun/Moon and Ultra Sun/Moon) it isn’t going to be that. The game also syncs to your Pokemon Go app and will allow you to swap Pokemon in and out between the Switch and your phone: to me this is genius. You are also encouraged to bond with your Pokemon via either petting your partner (Eevee or Pikachu) which can be done with your finger in handheld mode or with the joy-con with a wrist flick; that is immediately a great way to bond with a series of pixels and when my Eevee made a sweet little purr when I pet her, I felt my icy heart melt.

But using nostalgia well is where the game really shines. While the previous games were just showing in nostalgia for the sake of nostalgia, Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu does the right thing: it just strives to be a damn good game. It is beautiful so all those bonding moments that the creators wanted you to have are made so much greater by beautiful graphics and clean gameplay. I felt like I was a little kid starting my adventure with my beloved partner. It’s been great challenging gym leaders I grew up with and facing off against a nearly manga/anime accurate version of Jessie and James of Team Rocket. Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu is a smart, fun and beautiful dive into a familiar region with familiar faces all dolled up to be the most excellent.

This game is fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. If you’d like to go on this adventure with me, my friend code for the Nintendo Switch is: SW 0504 6571 4135.

Till next time, happy adventuring! I hope you catch ‘em all!

 

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