The Joy of Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu came out late last week, and since then I’ve been in a childhood nostalgia haze that’s left me smiling – and even better, it’s introduced my Kindergartner to the world of Pokemon better than any other game or show could. In a world of games that are mostly grim, defeatist, and outright violent – it’s nice to play a game that’s just about people, their pets… and brutally battling them in measured combat.

Ok, so it’s still kind of violent. But like all Pokemon games, Let’s Go gets away with the idea that you’re training your cartoon pit bulls like Mike Vick because it’s so cute, friendly, and no one ever gets hurt – they just faint. There’s no consequence to losing a battle, and the pokemon arguably go along with the whole thing as a test of their sportsmanship. So, all that aside, let me get to the point of this short editorial.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu do something that only Nintendo (and Game Freak, by extension) seem capable of doing with every new release – they bypass cynicism and serve up pure unadulterated joy.

There’s nothing particularly hard about Pokemon Let’s Go. It’s an easy game, to be honest, with the only challenge coming when you try to do something with under-leveled Pokemon. There’s no real sense of danger or urgency in any of the game’s systems – it’s the gaming equivalent of a Lifetime or Hallmark movie, and I am totally OK with that.

There’s a simple joy to exploring the world of Pokemon Red and Blue once again with Let’s Go. It’s nostalgic, reminding me of that day I booted up my Compaq Presario, loaded the emulator and first tried Pokemon after hearing friends at school jabber about the game non-stop. I was 14 when Pokemon came out in the US, so I was “too old” for it – but I was also “too old” for Harry Potter when it hit the states, and both cultural touchstones have meant a lot to me for more than half of my life.

Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu isn’t some ultra-deep and complex experience like Red Dead Redemption 2, and it’s not some sweeping cinematic open world game like Spider-Man or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. But, like Tetris Effect, it’s a perfect reimagining of a genre-defining classic and I’d gladly put it right up there with the multi-million selling blockbusters as a Game of the Year contender.

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