At the Nintendo area of this year’s E3, the Japanese company has been drawing huge crowds to their demos. The most sought-after games there by far have been Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu!/Let’s Go Eevee! Yesterday I was able to play a few games of Super Smash; so, it then became my mission to get my hands on one of the upcoming Pokemon games, as well as the Poke Ball Plus controller. After three and a half hours in line, I got my chance.
The demo had me play in the all-too-familiar Viridian Forest, one of the first areas players encounter in the original Pokemon games. The graphics are a major upgrade from the pixelated days of old, and in comparison with the last games for the 3DS, Pokemon Sun and Moon, the Switch titles feature smoother textures and walking transitions.
Encountering pokemon in the wild has gotten a major change from all the titles in the past. Now, wild pokemon will be visibly milling about as you travel through tall grass, forested areas, and caves. This gives players the option of avoiding battles entirely. This also helps out when looking for a particular pokemon, saving all the time and energy usually wasted on random chance encounters.
The catching system has also gotten an overhaul. When engaged with a wild pokemon, the player now has the option to use a Joy Con Controller in a throwing motion to simulate the throwing of a poke ball in game. To do so, hold the controller upwards, as if pulling back for a real throw, hold down the “A” button, and then come downward with the controller, giving a visual on screen of a poke ball coming right at the pokemon. An incorrectly angled throw will be reflected in game. This is noticeably similar to the catching system used in the mobile game Pokemon GO, where players must throw, or rather “flick,” a poke ball at a pokemon in stead of just choosing a “throw” option. And just like Pokemon GO, the Switch titles now have rings around the wild pokemon to indicate the type of throw you make, as well as incorporate the pokemon being able to interrupt a catch through movement or taunt. During these wild encounters, the demo only allowed me to throw poke balls and use berries, leaving out the option to actually battle with them. It is unknown if this will is how catching pokemon will be in the new games or if this was just for the demo.
My favorite part by far was getting to use the new Poke Ball Plus Controller, which is a close replica of a normal poke ball in the game. The round shape and the small size felt great in the hand. Unlike the Joy Con Controllers, the Poke Ball Plus only comes with an “A” and a “B” button, as well as an analog stick. The stick doubles as the “A” button and the top of the Poke Ball Plus is the “B”. To avoid any incidents of broken TVs or hurting others, the Poke Ball Plus comes with not only a wrist strap, but also a small-plastic ring that is to fit over the ring finger of the hand you’re using. This newly-added ring is to also prevent you from hitting yourself with the controller if you were to let go, said the man walking me through the demo. The Poke Ball Plus’ uses isn’t limited to just a controller. You can also upload a pokemon from the game into the Poke Ball Plus and take it with you wherever you go. I was told it should have around six-hours of battery life when using it this way. When a pokemon is inside, press the “A” button and then shake the ball to have the pokemon give its signature cry from the game. It is not confirmed yet what benefits the pokemon will receive when traveling in the Poke Ball Plus. The Poke Ball Plus can also be used for the Pokemon GO mobile game, acting as a Pokemon Go Plus device. When they release November 16th right along the Switch games, they can be purchased separately or bundled with Let’s Go Pikachu or Let’s Go Eevee.
Was the three and a half hour worth it? Perhaps. In the least, I was extremely happy to try out the Poke Ball Plus Controller. I’m for sure going to get it.