Let's get ready for Let's GO!

Posted By: jakehattwell

This new interview posted to the Official Pokémon Website has us so hyped for Let's GO!

I (Jake) wanted to spend some time talking about my opinion of the interview

Creative Inspiration

The first topic was about the Creative Inspiration for Pokémon Let's GO. Masuda says that they started with the question of how to make Pokémon friendly to both the Switch's functionality as both a home and handheld console. The idea of connecting to Pokémon GO came from this. Masuda also wanted to take advantage of modular nature of the Switch, with being able to remove the controllers, gyro motion controls and other elements, such as the increased power and the Bluetooth adapter.

I think that despite the earlier controversy of the "ableist" nature of the motion controls, now that Nintendo have clarified that at the start of a Pokemon catching encounter, the only input needed is choosing an item and pressing the A button to throw a Poke Ball, the new features a Switch Pokémon game will bring are something to be excited about.

A Living World

The immersion in Let's GO is something I'm really looking forward to. Seeing Pokémon in the overworld, and having them act in a dynamic nature sounds amazing. Masuda commented that

Because you don't battle wild Pokémon in these games, we wanted to come up with ways to encourage people to run in and go find the Pokémon they want to encounter. Having Pokémon appear in the world lets the player see the ones they want to catch and encourages them to do so, but it also makes the world feel, like you say, more alive and richer as a result.

What got me even more excited was the next section about how GameFreak has worked to make every Pokémon unique, giving each species it's own personality when it comes to their programmed behaviour pattern. For example, Nidoran's movement was created by studying videos of rabbits walking around.

Finally, Masuda commented on the focus on building the bond between us as trainers, and our partner Pokémon. He wants it to be a two way relationship. I'm still not sure what this will be like past what we've already seen in regards to grooming and petting, so I'm keen to see what new trailers bring.

Revisiting The Past

Ooooooooooh boy. So here we have confirmation that Let's GO will be closely related to Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition (the 3rd generation I game).

Our approach to development of these games was to appeal to a broad audience. One of the big reasons for that is there are a lot of younger players who maybe didn't have their own smartphones and couldn't join in on the Pokémon GO boom. Because of this, Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! might be their first time playing a Pokémon video game.
So I wanted to use Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition as a base to introduce the original 151 Pokémon to them—to have them experience catching and training Pokémon, which are core gameplay elements of the Pokémon series. Now, there are a lot of features that were added in later Pokémon games, such as Eggs, Abilities, and held items, that didn't exist at the time of Pokémon Yellow: Special Pikachu Edition. However, we want kids today to experience something similar to what kids enjoyed 20 years ago. Of course, there are aspects, such as link battling and trading, where we updated the feel to be something more appropriate to modern tastes.

Here we see Masuda is talking about why Let's GO has relatively simple mechanics. The reason to me seems to be twofold.
The first is obviously to pay homage to Pokémon Yellow, but there's also the underlying motive of using Pokémon Let's GO as a bridge, and this is what I'm most excited about.
Let's GO will hopefully be a game that both casual and hardcore players can enjoy.

One of the most difficult aspects of updating all the environments and maps for the new hardware and graphic style was that we wanted to keep it nostalgic for fans of the originals while also making it something that looks very inviting and appealing for younger kids.
…one thing that we did this time around was go back and update all the towns. We redesigned them, pretty much, giving all the towns their own personalities.
- Kensaku Nabana, Lead Environment Designer


It looks like things will be a mix of old and new with the designs of various towns and routes. How well this is executed remains to be seen, but from trailers and screenshots, it looks good so far!
There's not much else to say here, other than reinforcing the idea that Let's GO will be building a bridge between old and new players.

Masuda then comments about the difference between Let's GO and Leaf Green/Fire Red (The Generation III remakes of the original games). He says that the core concept of LGFR was to create games that could connect to Ruby and Sapphire, the main games of Gen III, but this time around, Game Freak wanted to define the modern living-room Pokémon RPG experience.

I'm personally really really keen for the nostalgia hit the games will bring and really glad that it won't be "just another Gen I remake". Leaf Green and Fire Red were quite lackluster for me, with their only redeeming qualities being the Sevii Islands. It seems like Game Freak are taking Let's GO in a different direction, and focusing on enhancing the gameplay to make Let's GO its own unique game.

Behind the Scenes

Here we see that sadly this will likely be Junichi Masuda's final game as Director, as he feels its time for the younger generation at GAME FREAK to take over.

The discussion then turns to music, where Masuda worked with Shota Kageyama, a composer who has also worked on previous Pokémon games.
They focused on the idea that because Let's GO is a console game as well, the music will more than likely be playing for a large portion of gameplay.

Because the music will be heard throughout the room, everyone will be able to hear it. So we wanted something that would feel kind and inviting—something that everyone in the household would be comfortable hearing.
One of the more interesting things that Mr. Kageyama did comes in the form of how he respected the original music while injecting his own variations on the themes. Most of the songs use the same key and tempo as the original versions, and he keeps things very similar for the first pass of the tune. After the initial loop happens, though, Mr. Kageyama's arrangement kicks in, allowing his own style to come through. I think it'll be very interesting for fans of the original soundtrack to listen to how it's changed.

As a huge fan of game background music, I'm really looking forward to see how the sound team will pay homage to the original tracks, whilst giving everything a fresh new vibe.
The Lavender Town preview we've already seen looks awesome!

Parting Words

Here the focus was on what new and old players could look forward to getting out of Let's GO.

Masuda restates the goal of the game is to bring Pokémon as a game that could be experienced in HD visuals on a TV but also as a handheld game, and how to make that enjoyable for all players.
The motion controls are a key part of the immersion, being able to throw the ball either with the Joy-Cons or a Poké Ball Plus. Masuda wants players to feel like they are trainers, really catching Pokémon.
He also referred to the two player gameplay, something we haven't really seen since Gen V's Entralink

Nabana then commented on the fact that catching Pokémon is now a very different experience to in the past, and that collecting all 151 Pokémon will be quite a challenge. He also touched upon the Master Trainer titles, and how players will need a deep knowledge of the Pokémon battle system to be able to claim titles from all of the Masters.

My feelings about this interview are really positive. The divide between causal and hardcore gameplay has been growing larger and larger in recent Generations, and I really hope that Let's GO will help to reunite the two sides. I really look forward to seeing the main series community merging together with the Pokémon GO community, and what adventures await us in the world of Pokémon.

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