Road tripping with Pika and pals — We go hands-on with the Pokémon Let’s Go demo

Surprise! The Pokémon Let’s Go Road Trip has started, and we got to check out its first stop in Los Angeles! Pikachu and Eevee will be touring the country in their own, custom trucks filled with Pokémon swag as well as an eight minute playable demo of Pokémon Let’s Go! Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go! Eevee. I was able to spend a bit of quality time with an early build back at E3, but at that point, video capture was not allowed. Now you can check out gameplay for yourself in the video above!

The first thing to note is that this demo features a host of Pokémon which will not be present on this map in the game itself. While it’s neat to see a Psyduck hanging out in the woods, you won’t find it spawning in Viridian Forest outside of this demo. While both Let’s Go! Eevee and Let’s Go! Pikachu are available to be played, we were only able to capture gameplay from the Pikachu version. A representative confirmed that you will be able to pick either starter Pokémon regardless of if you play as a male or female character, meaning you’ll be able to pick Pikachu as your Pokémon partner if you play as a female, and Eevee as your partner if you play as a male trainer, though these option were not available in the demo.

I got to play using the Pokéball Plus, which fits nicely into my very small hand, and found the gyros on the throwing mechanics to be spot-on, scoring an excellent throw on my very first try. I did feel like the circle size moved a little more quickly in Let’s Go! than it does in Go, though that could have simply been caused by my distraction of trying to play and ask questions at the same time. I came across both a huge and a tiny Pokémon during my time with this demo. Large Pokémon have a red aura around them, while tiny ones have a blue one. While there are no real advantages to fighting with a large or small Pokémon , catching an abnormally big or tiny Pokémon will reward you with some extra experience points.

A representative confirmed that curve balls will not be making the leap onto the Switch. You are able to do a few different kinds of throws in Let’s Go!, with overhand throws and underhand lobs being specifically referenced, but these won’t increase your likelihood of successfully catching a Pokémon. Instead, Let’s Go! Will reward trick throws with extra experience points.

I also got to check out the two player mode, which is initiated by literally nothing more than shaking a Joy-Con. The second player can drop in and join you in running around, though the second character acts as a support only; they cannot collect items, nor can they initiate wild Pokémon encounters or trainer battles. To my surprise, the second player can drop in at literally any point during a two-player zone–that includes during a battle! While there are some areas where you can’t pull in a second player, usually where a cutscene will occur, you’ll be able to bring a second trainer with you for most of the game. If a battle is going poorly for you, grab a friend and have them hop in to help save your skin. The second player will pull Pokémon from your team, since they don’t have any Pokémon of your own, but having that extra bit of fire, grass, water, or electric power during a turn just might help you end the battle more quickly, and keep your partner Pokémon from fainting.

I got to learn a few more features about the Pokéball Plus, the first being a small but incredibly cute feature. We all know the three-shakes we all have to wait through when trying to capture a Pokémon, during which they try to break out of the Pokéball. Both the Pokéball Plus and the Joy-Cons will rumble in time with these shakes, but the Pokéball Plus comes with one extra feature: if you hold the Pokéball Plus to your ear, you can actually hear the Pokémon’s cry as they try to break free. In addition to acting as a Pokémon Go Plus when paired with your phone, you can also transfer a Pokémon to your Pokéball Plus, carrying it with you in the real world. The Pokéball Plus will light up and you’ll be able to hear its Pokémon cry whenever you interact with it–but Pokémon can feel neglected and sad if you ignore them for too long. Pikachu, in particular, will call for your attention with a very sad sounding “piiiika-cuuu…” but will quickly cheer up if you give it attention by rolling the Pokéball Plus in a soothing way.

While this demo was almost painfully short, it was still a delightful little window into this upcoming title. But you don’t have to take my word for it! Check out the Pokémon Let’s Go Road Trip schedule to see if Pikachu and Eevee will be coming to a town near you.

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