There’s no doubt that Pokémon Go was a phenomenon when it first launched on mobile devices. It kindled a love of the series that hadn’t been seen to that calibur in a long time, which is saying something considering the sheer size of the Pokémon fanbase in general. And after two years, Pokémon Go is still going strong so it makes a certain amount of sense that Game Freak would try to court that audience to their main games. It happened naturally with Pokémon Sun and Moon, but the newest games, Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee, have been positioned as a midpoint between Go and the core series while revisiting Kanto once again.It’s an idea that has a lot of potential, but with two different audiences to satisfy, does it succeed? Pokémon Let’s Go at its core is a remake of Pokémon Yellow. As a new trainer in Kanto, you meet a very special Pikachu or Eevee who becomes your partner before you’re tasked by Professor Oak to explore the region and capture every Pokémon. Along the way, you’ll take on the eight different Gyms that stand between you and the Pokémon League as well as face the notorious Team Rocket. For anyone who’s played the original games before, this is all incredibly familiar and it doesn’t really break from tradition. Every story beat hits the same notes that you’ve seen before. But while the structure is the same, the details have been tweaked to a much greater degree. Characters are given a little more time to be fleshed out and major plot points are given a little more gravitas than what was there before. None of it is revolutionary, but long time fans will appreciate how certain aspects have been expanded, especially when it comes to references to other games, specifically Gold & Silver.It makes Kanto feel more like a part of this cohesive world than ever before. However, it’s the gameplay where Pokémon Let’s Go has the most changes as there are no longer wild Pokémon battles. Rather than weaken the Pokémon, players simply have to toss a Poké Ball at it using a system similar to the one found in Go. The color of the moving circle depicts how difficult a Pokémon is to catch. Green means it’s easy, yellow is a bit harder, and red is the most difficult with variations in between. This can be made easier through the use of berries or better Poké Balls.But timing is also important as waiting until the circle is near its smallest point will result in a Nice, Great, or Excellent throw, improving the chances of a successful catch. While at face value, this system seems simpler than past Pokémon games, there’s enough nuance to keeps things interesting through the game’s runtime. For one, every Pokémon you attempt to catch has their own movement patterns with some loving to jump around the screen or smacking the thrown balls away. Often times, they’ll leave the center of the screen forcing you to perform a curved throw which are naturally harder to aim. But even without this aspect, Let’s Go encourages players to improve their throws thanks to the experience system. Catching Pokémon will net players experience for their current team, but more factors than just a Pokémon’s level determines how much is exactly earned. If you catch a new Pokémon on your first throw that’s also Excellent, you will earn way more experience than just a standard catch.And you’ll want to do this as levels have been completely rebalanced in Let’s Go, taking far longer than they ever did in the original game, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as experience is also much more abundant and experience is always shared. In the original Gen 1 games, grinding wild Pokémon for the jumps in difficulty was almost a necessity, but I never had to grind once in Let’s Go and I didn’t feel I was spending too much time catching Pokémon. Instead, it just naturally happened between those catches and the plentiful trainer battles. Trainer battles also represent a sizeable change from what’s been established before as it lacks Abilities and many of the nuances modern games have introduced.Some of the underlying systems are still here such as its nature and characteristics, but it does feel like a back to basics approach for the battle system. It works, but I rarely had to think beyond what moves were effective against which types and I found myself going on auto-pilot for sections containing loads of trainer battles in a row. Some of the fights could be exciting and tense, but if you know your Pokémon basics, you won’t have any trouble here. Beyond catching and battling, exploring the Kanto region is a joy. While the graphics can’t be considered top tier, it’s still a clean look that brings a lot of personality to places we’ve only seen on a tiny handheld screen before. There are no longer random encounters with wild Pokémon and they all appear on the overworld. This ends up being a game changer for the series as you can now easily challenge the Pokémon you want to catch or avoid them all when going through a cave or dungeon.It’s up to the player when they want to battle, but they can still get intercepted by Pokémon just as easily. And Pokémon rarity is still present as some species don’t appear all that often, but there are new Lures that can coax them out. While it’s a little easier to catch ‘em all, you won’t be completing the Pokédex that easily. Secret Techniques also replace they HMs of the original games, making Kanto much easier to explore in general. All the barriers you might remember are still there, but they can be easily handled thanks these techniques. It no longer feels like a chore to go through certain parts of the region. And you’ll be doing it with a Pokémon at your side.While it’s fun to have them there in general, sometimes these Pokémon will find items in various spots making them have a bit of a purpose, but of course your main partner is Pikachu or Eevee. For this review, I played the Eevee version and my partner was just a powerhouse. She could take hits that other members of my team couldn’t handle and was extremely versatile in combat, especially thanks to a Move Tutor that could teach Eevee unique attacks based on the typings of its evolutions. This meant I could cater my Eevee to the challenges ahead and make things a little easier. Not only that, but I could interact with Eevee to pet it, feed it, and dress it up in various costumes along with my own trainer. And after enough playtime, Eevee would be able to power-up one of my other Pokémon for a battle or unleash a unique attack that did loads of damage. Your partner is an integral part of the game, and I never got tired of just how darn cute it was.Other aspects of Pokémon Go made it into the game as well with players able to send Pokémon to Professor Oak in exchange for candy. Different candies increase different stats allowing you easily craft your Pokémon’s strengths in any way you see fit while Pokémon candy, such as Eevee candy, will increase all of that specific Pokémon’s stats by one. There’s also the Go Park where Pokémon Go players can send over their Pokémon to Let’s Go, but unfortunately the connectivity wasn’t available by the time of this review. Still, I consider this more an extra as I was able to enjoy Let’s Go just fine without the feature. The same could be said for the co-op feature. With a shake of a second Joy-Con, another player can drop in or drop out at any time. The second player has access to your team and will turn every battle into a two on one fight, making the game significantly easier. They can also help with catching Pokémon at the cost of using two Poké Balls in a single catch, which can be a drain on resources if you don’t sync your throws properly.While there are some drawbacks, it’s naturally fun to help out in both of these scenarios. But the same can’t be said for exploring the world. The second player can’t really do anything like pick up items or even encounter Pokémon. They just follow along, and even if they don’t, the game will naturally teleport them to the next area. It unfortunately makes that person feel more like a helper than a true teammate. Each Pokémon looks fantastic in Let’s Go as well with proper sizes being represented and plenty of personality to make them stand out.Moves in battle are kept simple but some of the more powerful attacks do have a fantastic punch to them. And as I said before, Kanto looks great itself with the modern facelift really helping locations like the Pokémon Tower, Silph Co, and some of the Gyms stand out way more than before. But the music is where the game shines. Every single remix stands out immensely and is by far the best version of these songs with the standouts for me being Cerulean City, Lavender Town, and the Pokémon Mansion. In many ways, Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee feels like the original game in HD, and that’s great. It is a perfect stepping stone for Pokémon Go players to start getting into the core games. But other than some expanded storytelling and modernization, there’s not a lot here for long-time fans. I enjoyed my time with the game, but I was never enthralled by it. The nuance of the battles felt like it was missing and only the few instances of brand new material made me feel engaged. I like Pokémon Let’s Go and many of the improvements make exploring Kanto more enjoyable than the original.But as a long-time Pokémon player, I’ve seen most of this before. It’s worth checking out for the curious, but newcomers will have the most to enjoy as it brings them deeper into the world of Pokémon. Thanks for watching and be sure to subscribe to GameXplain for more on Pokémon and other things gaming. .