Review of Pokémon Let’s Go

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I wasn’t always a big fan of Pokemon. Back when the original game came out in Europe I was close to twenty years of age. Based off clips I had seen, of the wholesome cartoon series, I dismissed Pokemon as being something that was just for kids. Twelve months later Final Fantasy IX awakened my passion for RPGs. Eager to try other titles in the genre, I decided to be less close-minded and give Pokemon Blue a chance. Turns out that the series, developed by Game Freak, can be enjoyed by youngsters and adults alike. At the time of writing I am fast approaching forty and have just beaten the twenty three hour story mode of Pokemon Let’s Go.

OVERVIEW

One of the reasons I was looking forward to this release is because it is set in the Kanto region – the same setting as the above mentioned Pokemon Blue. When it comes to Pokemon, just like Transformers, I am most familiar with generation one. It was a simpler time, when completing a Pokedex only required that you catch 151 critters. These days I hear that the species list of Pokemon surpasses over eight hundred! Some of the new Pokemon look cool, but others suffer from uninspired designs. When a developer starts to create Pokemon that resemble ice cream cones and key chains you know they are running low on ideas.

Technically speaking Let’s Go is a remake of Pokemon Yellow. Were the two differ is the manner in which you catch Pokemon. Yellow had players capturing Pokemon by weakening them first in combat. Let’s Go adopts a simpler approach, inspired by the mobile game it is named after. Catching a Pokemon is just like nabbing a woman. You throw your balls at them and hope they don’t run away. I personally liked the new system, as it spared me from suffering the frustration of accidentally killing Pokemon I was trying to recruit. My opinion would be different though, were I not someone who plays handheld mode exclusively. Switch owners who play docked on the TV will have to catch Pokemon with fiddly motion controls, rather than buttons. Nintendo thinks it is cute to simulate the action of hurling a Pokeball. If you prefer a traditional controller or are disabled tough luck.

GOT TO CATCH EM ALL

What makes capturing Pokemon in Let’s Go a blast is that you can see the buggers roaming through the bushes (like a creepy stalker). Gone are the days of random encounters. Yay! I no longer have the patience to battle Zubats every time I take a step forward. Should you spot a Pokemon that you want to add to your collection just walk up to them. If you have no desire to tangle with yet another Rattata, give them a wide berth. The option of targeting Pokemon by sight allows trainers to build up combos. Catching several Pokemon, of the same type, in a row rewards you with increased odds of finding rare Pokemon and Shinies (mutant Pokemon who have been born with a different pigmentation). Some Twitch channels make an income by streaming hunts for Shinies, which amounts to trapping the same Pokemon, over and over, for hours at a time. Man, I think I am in the wrong line of work.

For those of you worrying that Pokemon Let’s Go only involves throwing spheres at woodland creatures fear not. Turn based battles still exist in this game. In order to finish the story players need to defeat eight gym leaders, the Elite Four and any other trainers/children/fishermen who get in your way. Winning a Pokemon duel rewards you with cash and experience. When a Pokemon accumulates enough experience they level up, which may cause them to unlock new abilities or evolve into a new form. Another way of powering up your team is to exchange duplicate Pokemon for stat boosting candy. Yes, that is right. Candy makes you stronger. Those doctors who warned you that sweets will rot your teeth are liars. Devour confectionery and one day you too shall bulk up like The Rock.

VERDICT

My rating for Pokemon Let’s Go is a four out of five. Some hardcore fans won’t approve of how Let’s Go dumbs things down, by removing features found in other modern Pokemon titles. For a casual player, such as myself, the game is however fun. Many people have commented that Let’s Go is a tad easy, which I would have to agree. That said, I did lose a few matches during the course of my adventure. My losses were mostly due to my terrible sense of direction, rather than the opponents being tough. Somehow I ended up facing the Sixth Gym Leader, before beating the fourth and fifth one, as I took a detour leading to the wrong town. Oops! Perhaps I can also blame the losses on buying the Pikachu edition? I hear that the Eevee version is a bit easier, as the adorable pup has a better move set. As a superhero fan I couldn’t resist going on a journey with Pikachu though. He sounds a lot like Deadpool after all.

Review of Fire Emblem Heroes

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I finally got round to playing one of Nintendo’s iOS releases, namely Fire Emblem Heroes. Due to my lack of a mobile phone I never got into the Pokémon Go craze that swept the globe. Neither did I partake in Super Mario Run, because I am not a fan of the auto-runner genre. Fire Emblem Heroes was a day one download for me though, as I have been a fan of the series ever since I played Fire Emblem 7 on the Gameboy Advance. There’s no risk in trying out this portable strategy RPG given that it costs nowt to install. I welcome entertainment that is gratis in these financially tough times. Just the other day I discovered that the cost of my favourite leafy vegetable has doubled due to a poor harvest. Well enough grocery moaning, lettuce get on with the review.

OVERVIEW

Fire Emblem Heroes puts players in the role of a tactician who must stop a loli sorceress from seizing control of Askar – a magical kingdom that houses gateways leading to the various Fire Emblem worlds. To triumph budding generals lead their troops against enemies whose ranks include clumsy maids and big-breasted ladies who ride atop wyverns (I wouldn’t mind Camilla riding my dragon hurr hurr.) All the tactical goodness one would expect from a Fire Emblem title is here, although some of the gameplay mechanics have been streamlined to better suit mobile audiences. Battles for example are waged on maps that are just one screen big and player controlled armies are limited to four warriors per skirmish.

One feature absent from Fire Emblem Heroes is permadeath. Units who perish in battle will revive once a level concludes, although incapacitated heroes will lose out on any experience accrued during that mission. Thank goodness that death is temporary because new soldiers are recruited by using up precious summon orbs. Said orbs are awarded for completing story levels and after that you’ll need to fork out real money to obtain more. If you are a cheapskate it’s possible to enlist the aid of low rank characters by completing daily challenges. Two star heroes aren’t great, but can be promoted in exchange for feathers obtainable via PVP. If you plan to promote someone to rank five be aware that you’ll need to collect more feathers than an OCD Assassin’s Creed player.

VERDICT

My rating for Fire Emblem Heroes is four stars. Despite its bite sized design Heroes manages to deliver the fun tactical combat Fire Emblem is renowned for. I like how levels can be speedily completed within minutes, but still retain a degree of strategy. Although more casual that other titles in the series you’ll still need to position troops correctly to take advantage of the infamous weapon triangle (archers are strong versus flying units, lancers deal bonus damage to swordsmen, lizard beats Spock etc.) Fans of the franchise will also enjoy how it is possible to amass an army comprised of stars from previous games. Who you enlist via summoning is totally random, which will annoy some people but I am okay with the character lottery. As an avid Hearthstone player I am well acquainted with the system of paying for RNG determined rewards.

Will I still be playing Fire Emblem Heroes a year from now? Only time will tell. I suspect grinding levels, dealing with the stamina bar that limits how much you can play per session and being pressured into buying orbs will wear down my enthusiasm eventually. All that said, at the time of writing, I have been playing Heroes for almost two weeks without spending a dime. Even if I elect to abandon the game tomorrow that’s terrific value for money. One could cite any number of full priced games that fail to retain a player’s interest for that long. No Man’s Sky for example gets stale far quicker than Fire Emblem Heroes and The Order 1886 has less content despite its hefty price tag. Forty quid for something that can be completed in a few hours? Bah, I could buy several lettuces for that fee.