So last week I did something I never thought I would do - I bought Pokemon: Let's Go Eevee.
And I mostly enjoyed it; this is the closest I think I've been to 8 year old me (not many games can bridge a 20 year gap).
It is essentially a retelling of the original Gen 1 games, with some of the new mechanics, and a fresh lick of paint - but with a new character with a new rival (Blue makes a return, but not as the rival. Red makes an appearance as a post-game battle). The new "rival", however, can not hold a candle to Blue (then again, nobody compares to that arrogant prick
Only the original 150 pokemon return (+Alolan forms, available through in-game trades, +1 if you count Mew as a special unlock).
I enjoyed it more than Fire Red and Leaf Green (I wish that game had the Physical/Special split), for what it's worth.
There are some really good aspects, things I hope remain.
The wild encounter system, where you can see wild pokemon in the overworld, is so much better
than the old random encounter system; it makes the world seem more alive and makes walking around far less frustrating.
Pokemon can once again follow you around outside of their pokeball - I thought this was a nice touch in HG/SS, and it's even better when the pokemon have their proper scale and can wander around a little bit (sometimes finding berries or such for you). Perhaps having an Onix follow you around might look a little silly, but hey, Onix is meant to be big.
Oh, and some pokemon will have you ride on them instead (not sure how that works with Haunter...). Riding an Aerodactyl is one of the best things in any Pokemon game ever - my inner 8 year old definitely appreciated that.
HMs have been replaced with "secret techniques", learned by your parter/starter pokemon (either Eevee or Pikachu, depending on the game). I liked the original idea of HMs, a way of having your pokemon aid you in your traversal of the world, I just wish they weren't usually such shit moves that you had to teach, couldn't forget, and that there weren't so many of them. I think some compromise is achievable, but I prefer this extreme to the old.
As a rule, every pokemon can be encountered in the wild through the normal mechanism - even if Eevee was your starter, you can catch another for regular evolution purposes (your starter Eevee is special and cannot evolve, but can learn some broken moves). The exceptions are limited to the end-game legendary (Mewtwo) and Arcanine/Persian (normally version exclusives, but you can trade one for the other once in the opposing version).
The game is a little stripped down in terms of mechanics, compared to the mainline games - there are no abilities, and no held items. Mega-evolutions are present (most post Elite Four), but Z-Moves do not make a return.
The loss of abilities I think hurts some pokemon, but I can't say I mind their absence, or the loss of held items, for a single player playthrough.
The EV system has been replaced with a new "AV" system (at least, that's what Bulbapedia calls it) - rather than gain EVs from defeated pokemon, you increase your pokemon's stats by feeding them
candy. Each candy will add one to a given stat (up to a maximum of +200, which makes AVs far stronger than EVs, and you can max each stat).
Trainer battles are much the same, but now you don't really gain any significant experience from fighting trainers - instead it's just money, and some pokeballs.
And you're going to need those pokeballs, because that's where the real exp. gain is; in catching pokemon.
This is, perhaps, the change I like the least. To me, trainer battles (particularly Gym Leaders and the E4 + Champion) were always the "interesting" part of a pokemon game - the tests of your team and progress so far. These are no longer meaningfully rewarded in terms of pokemon growth, so unless you need the cash, there's not much point in fighting trainers. Demotivating engaging in pokemon battles feels really strange to me.
You don't "fight" wild-pokemon anymore, and whilst I really like the new system to encounter new pokemon, the battle mechanic I like far less.
Now all you can do is throw pokeballs at a wild pokemon (with inconsistent motion controls no less!), or berries to make the fuckers sit still - and you're going to be doing this a lot, because chain-catching the same pokemon over and over again is where the big experience gains come from.
There are other reasons to chain catch - as your chain reaches the double digits, you increase the number of perfect IVs your caught pokemon will have. You also increase the number of candies wild pokemon drop (which you want), and you can send the surplus pokemon to Professor Oak, who presumably
grinds them up
"researches them" to make yet more candy, sent straight to you. I did this a couple of times (my Beedrill has close to perfect IVs, and I did about 30-45 minutes of grinding geodudes for +defense candy), but I'm not sure how much of a difference it has made in terms of difficulty.
Overall, the game is kind of easy, even for Pokemon standards. And not just because some of the mechanics have been removed.
Your starter will always have perfect IVs, varying only in Nature. The starter Eevee also learns, relatively early, some pretty powerful moves (a version of Thunderbolt and Flamethrower with 100% status infliction chance, and a Water move of the same power with a life-drain effect) - the starter Pikachu is similarly blessed (other Eevees and Pikachus are not so blessed, but do not hate the evolution stones). But I did not opt to keep my starter in my party (on account of it still being an Eevee
I don't think I faced a team with "equivalent" level to mine until the Elite Four and Champion fight, and didn't fight a team with higher level until the fight with Blue post E4 (and then the E4 rematches), and only then did I start seeing pokemon on my team start fainting (I haven't been focusing on a strong team either - no team featuring a Beedrill can be regarded as "optimal"
After beating the Elite Four, you unlock "master trainers" - there's one for each pokemon species, and you have to fight them with one of that pokemon only. This forms the "post-game" content, and by and large they are far more challenging, assuming you regard "grind up a pokemon to a reasonable level, teach it the right moves (half the time, Toxic and Protect), and maybe farm for candies", as a challenge.
My final criticism is with the world itself.
The game looks like a polished version of the 3DS games - the animation quality is much the same, and the world retains the same "grid" layout as the original.
I really think the devs could have made the world a more "natural". The addition of overworld pokemon makes environments feel more cramped, so making spaces larger in comparison, and moving away from grid-aligned terrain (Sun and Moon went this way) would have done a lot more to make the game look more special.
I think the game is good - I enjoyed it, but think it could have been a little more. I don't regret paying full price, but I understand that others might. On the other hand, I suspect it'll be a long time before I feel inclined to play through it again, but Pokemon games are like that for me - a ritual that is engaged in once a year or so.