I’ve had a hankering for a good, old fashioned pokémon game now for quite some time. The same sort of itch you get when it’s been about one and a half years since you last played Minecraft. You know that you won’t really get anything fresh or new out of it, but you still miss it.

So picking up Pokémon Let’s Go! on release was a given. As I am a Good Person™️, I got the Eevee version. I figured it’d be something I could relax with on the subway or during evenings while my girlfriend was drawing.

I had seen that it had some co-op mechanics to go along with the new catching mechanics, but I hadn’t payed much attention to it. While I’m not exactly a Pokémon Purist, I have played and finished at least one game in each cycle, and several in some (I’ve played Red/Blue/Yellow, but only Leaf Green, per example), so while I wasn’t exactly thrilled with them changing core parts of the formula, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as to whether they fit nicely into the game or not.

I was not expecting for the co-op mechanics to become a core reason to play the game.

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Some context: I live together with my girlfriend of 7 years. We play most games together, with one person holding the controller while the other casually participates in whatever way that suits them. For most story-related choices in narrative-driven games, we make joint decisions.

With Pokémon Let’s Go!, the co-op mechanics mesh perfectly with how we play games together. If she wants to participate, she can jump in at any time, and instantly assist with whatever is currently going on, be it searching for rares, fighting trainers or catching new Pokémon.

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And most importantly, she can actually make a difference on her own terms. If she has something else she’d rather do, she can just leave at any point and do that instead, and I am in no way progress-locked by her. The main player is in control of screen transitions, and does not require the other player to be nearby to trigger a transition. In other words, it’s incredibly low-investment for both players to do co-op, but it’s still rewarding. Plus, you can do it with literally anyone. The second player essentially cannot negatively impact the game, which means you can even play it together with small children.

I was truly surprised by how nicely integrated the co-op is, and it’s making the game a ton of fun for me and my girlfriend to play together. It DOES entirely remove any kind of challenge from the game, however, but then again, Pokémon never really was a series you played due to it’s brutal difficulty.