After its release in 2016, the mobile game “Pokémon Go” gave people another reason to stare at their phones while walking around in public.
“Pokémon Go” combines the world of the famous “Pokémon” franchise with that of reality, as players access the game’s creatures and locales by reaching certain GPS locations.
According to The Pokémon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara, the app has reached over 800 million downloads as of May 2018. With such massive popularity, it’s no surprise the game had a large following among University of Georgia students.
On May 29, 2018, Nintendo announced “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” and “Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” for its Switch gaming system. Released on Nov. 16, these two installments combine elements from “Pokémon Go” and the more traditional “Pokémon” iterations.
“Pokémon Go” players at UGA have responded positively to the role-playing games inspired by the mobile title.
Senior Britain Williams, a finance and economics major from Tucker and a current member of Athens’ “Pokémon Go” Facebook group, especially enjoys the games’ connection to the “early part of the franchise.”
“If you watched the ‘Pokémon’ anime as a kid … if you’re familiar with Brock and Misty and Team Rocket, those characters are in [‘Let’s Go’],” Williams said. “Having played [‘Pokémon’] almost my entire life, that nostalgia really hit hard, because [‘Let’s Go’] is a remake of the first [‘Pokémon’] games that I have ever played.”
Williams’ experience fits Nintendo’s goal to offer a game in which “longtime fans can revisit the place where [“Pokémon”] all began,” according to a press release. Taking place in the fictional region of Kanto, “Let’s Go” has the same setting as the original “Pokémon” titles and their 2004 remakes.
As another longtime fan, sophomore marketing and international business major Sergio Haab from Lilburn, appreciates the mobile game’s influence on Pokémon encounters in the “Let’s Go” games. Unlike in the more traditional role-playing entries, these encounters aren’t random.
“Instead of walking through tall grass and randomly finding something you may or may not be looking for, you can tell ahead of time which Pokémon are in that area,” Haab said. “So you can choose whether or not you want to actually enter a battle and try to catch the Pokémon.”
Sophomore computer science major Landon Murdock from Forsyth County hopes this change is present in the “Pokémon” entry announced for 2019, which The Pokémon Company classifies as an iteration more similar to the traditional games.
“In previous [role-playing ‘Pokémon’] games, you had to just run through grass or caves and a Pokémon would just randomly pop up for you to battle and try to catch, but in [“Let’s Go”], you can see which Pokémon that you can run into,” Murdock said. “It’s just a lot easier and more convenient.”
Developer Game Freak’s embrace of “Pokémon Go” in the new games represents an effort to appeal to those new to the Pokémon franchise.
Williams, who considers himself a franchise “veteran,” feels the effect of this aim.
“[‘Let’s Go’] is easy. They kind of simplify a lot of the battling,” Williams said.
Despite the similarities between “Let’s Go” and “Pokémon Go,” Murdock said he enjoys them for different reasons.
“[‘Let’s Go’] is more of an actual game than ‘Pokémon Go,’ with a storyline and stuff like that.,” Murdock said. “But I guess I won’t be playing ‘Let’s Go’ as long, because once you finish the story, that’s kind of it. ‘Pokémon Go’ is just kind of a consistent thing that I play while I’m out.”
However, Haab said he prefers “Let’s Go” over the mobile game. To him, a lot of the “power scaling” in the latter is “out of control.”
“In [the traditional] Pokémon games, you have your starter Pokémon, who are generally pretty solid … In ‘Pokémon Go,’ some of these starters are so much weaker than … Pokémon that they normally completely walk all over,” Haab said. “‘Let’s Go’ basically uses the same combat system that [traditional] Pokémon games have used.”