Cuteness Dialed to 11:
Pokemon may be games about battling, but they’ve always acknowledged (and heavily merchandised for) those who just want to hug them. While the usual starter Pokemon begin as adorable, by the end of the game they’re typically muscular bad-asses. Starter Pokemon stopped being the box art after Yellow, instead focusing on decidedly un-cute legendary Pokemon. Aside from firmly waving the Pikachu flag, Yellow reworked and added sprites for some of the most popular Pokemon. Another concession to cuteness was that in Pokemon Yellow your Pikachu could not evolve. Its hard to imagine such a limitation being imposed on Lets Go, with far less technical limitations and being a full release in itself. With Eevee and Pikachu as the game’s mascots, and gracing the cover art, cuteness is the order of the day once again.
Closer to the Cartoon:
One of the main reasons why Yellow starred a Pikachu who never evolved was to closely mirror the insanely popular cartoon, but this inspiration extended to the entire game. Not only were certain Pokemon locations moved around, and gym leader’s Pokemon changed to reflect the cartoon but some characters were effectively added. The gym leaders Brock and Misty were made to resemble their anime counterparts, and Jesse and James were introduced instead of the generic Team Rocket grunts that were fought in Red and Blue. Even the Pokemon centre nurses were remodeled to be Nurse Joy, complete with trademark Chansey.
It seems unlikely that the Yellow-inspired Lets Go games will go this far, but with nostalgia being a driving factor behind the recent Pokemon resurgence seeing a few references to the television show would not be surprising.
Pokemon Yellow was many people’s entry point to the series. While in the late 90s making a version of Pokemon that adhered to the cartoon was the best way to expand its audience, attempting to bring in the millions of Pokemon Go players is clearly a driving factor behind Lets Go. The biggest change visible in the trailer is the implenetation of Pokemon Go’s capture mechanic, seemingly replacing the series’ longstanding mechanic of battling wild critters.
While Yellow itself implemented mostly cosmetic changes, it was undoubtedly a lot simpler than more modern Pokemon games, with many fewer mechanics. The Pokemon company were quick to reveal that a ‘core’ Pokemon title is still coming next year – a move that seems intended to appease those concerned about this Go-orientated cute-fest.
Pokemon Outside Their Balls:
The coolest thing about Pokemon Yellow was having Pikachu with you at all times. Having a party of 6 Pokemon with you is great and all, but for a game where you spend so much time in the over world having just one of your team free from its spherical prison made a big difference. Pokemon Heart Gold and Soul Silver already reused this feature in some style, allowing the first Pokemon in your party, whether it was adorable or not, to accompany you. It even took things one step further with the introduction of the Pokewalker – a Pokeball coloured pedometer that you could put a Pokemon in and take with you. The Pokeball controllers also revealed in the Lets Go trailer seems like an evolution of this concept.