E3 is less than two weeks away, but The Pokémon Company couldn't quite wait that long to spill the beans on their plans for the future. They held a special media presentation last night (watch it in full right here) and unveiled multiple new games. The big announcement that has everyone talking is Pokémon: Let's Go (available in Pikachu! and Eevee! versions), a game that returns to Kanto and infuses the classic Pokémon formula with elements from Pokémon GO. Fans have reacted with a wide range of emotions that stretches from ecstatic joy to frustration and hate. Whether or not you think the Let's Go games are for you, they represent an absolutely brilliant move by Game Freak, and they're sure to boost the series for years to come.
I've seen a lot of people online saying Let's Go just isn't for them. If you're in that crowd, I'd encourage you to give it a shot, but you might be right. It might not be for you. And that's fine. Your time is coming. Until then, think about the people who fell in love with Pokémon as children but lost interest after a generation or two.
If you haven't visited Kanto in nearly two decades, imagine having the chance to go see it again with beautiful updated graphics, much more user friendly controls and options, Pokémon roaming the overworld instead of appearing by triggering random encounters, local co-op with your friends and family, and your trusted Pikachu or Eevee at your side. You can ride an Onyx across the land or soar through the air on the back of a Charizard! It's the game you imagined you were playing as a child, but for real this time.
The fact that you don't have to weaken a wild Pokémon in battle before throwing a Poké Ball is not likely to be a deal-breaker here. Let's Go is going to be extremely attractive for many players with fond memories of Red, Blue, and Yellow who moved on from Pokémon years ago. This is all part of Nintendo's overall strategy to attract older Nintendo fans who have stopped playing to Switch, and so far it has worked marvelously.
Let's Go is also obviously designed to pique the interest of Pokémon GO players, which total 800 million since the game's debut. Now, that doesn't mean 800 million people are still actively playing the game, but don't believe people who claim "no one plays Pokémon GO anymore." That's utter nonsense.
Pokémon GO may not be topping the charts across the world like it did at launch, but it's still a massively popular and profitable game with an enormous active player base. According to industry analysts it still has over 9 million active players a month just in the United States alone. Globally that number is still in the tens of millions, and many of those people have never bought a traditional Pokémon game.
Jumping straight from GO into the eighth generation of main series games would be a confusing and jarring shift for new players. However, if you take that core Pokémon formula, simplify it a bit, and pepper in some of the gameplay from GO, you've got something that is much more accessible to fans of the mobile game. Players can even import their favorite Pokémon from GO to feel right at home. Better yet, the game is set in Kanto and puts a new spin on the original story that started it all, so Game Freak is truly giving GO players a proper introduction to what made Pokémon great from the beginning.
If you're still not satisfied with what Let's Go has to offer, you don't have to be. The Pokémon Company has already confirmed that they don't consider Let's Go to be the next true main series entry into the franchise. Game Freak is hard at work on the next true "core series RPG," and it's coming out next year.
This practically guarantees that the next two holiday seasons will be smash hits for Nintendo. The Let's Go games will boost Switch sales as both lapsed gamers from yesteryear and Pokémon GO fans look to upgrade their experience. Pokémon fans who aren't impressed by Let's Go will then be drawn the console the next year when the true "core" game launches. Everyone wins.
If Let's Go really does its job, it will impress its players but leave them wanting even more. Then when the next major entries launch in 2019, Let's Go will serve as the bridge that brings GO fans to the core series for the first time as they continue to crave a deeper Pokémon experience. It's a brilliant strategy that ensures the Pokémon fan base will continue to grow for years to come. Who knows, Let's Go could even be expanded into its one series as a permanent halfway point between the "casual" and "core" Pokémon experiences.