The Right Way to Play Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu

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The game has been out for over a month, so the timing seems right for a teambuilding guide for the theoretical few that are struggling to get very far in Pokemon: Use Pikachu and Win.

Let’s not dance around it: Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu is an easy game. It may very well be the easiest game in the series with the exception of Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee, its version counterpart. Yes, they actually are easier than Pokemon X and Y. I don’t know why, but GameFreak seems to be on this stint where they feel like they have to compete with cell phone games. Look, if I’m going to spend $60 on a JRPG, I want it to have more more to it than some vapid cell phone app with all the depth of a puddle of rainwater. Besides, cell phone games are free. It’s hard to compete with that.

This guide is about practical team-building choices for those who want to quickly and efficiently power their way through the game. It’s probably better to take one’s time and savor the experience, but some players are in a rush to get to the post-game so they can build a competitive team, even though the Let’s Go competitive scene is pretty much summed up as beat-Mewtwo-and-win. But hey, it’s the player’s choice how they play through a cutesy game about huggem-squeezems.

Pokemon-pikachu-hd-wallpaper-background.jpgGet ready to see a lot of this guy.

Obviously, Pikachu is going to be on your team. It’s going to be the strongest pokemon available to you for most of the game, and it’s given to you right from the start. Mewtwo isn’t available until the postgame, but Pikachu can get you to that point.

A pointer for those who insist on having their pokemon perfect: The gender of the partner Pikachu is determined right when you start your save file, and is obvious at that point. If it’s the one you want, go with it. Otherwise, just reset. For nature, that’s determined when you enter the grass and encounter it, and you see its nature when you receive it in Oak’s lab. This would be the only partner Pikachu you get in a save file, so if its nature or gender matters to you, take the opportunity to soft reset for it. Its IV will be flawless, so don’t worry about that.

You’ll also have the choice of which trainer to play the game as. If you’re wondering who the girl is this time, here she is:

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Her name would be Elaine (Ayumi, for the elites). I suspect that she’d be the highly-popular choice. But you can also choose to play as the boy if you want to. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The partner Pikachu can pretty much get you through the game. It’s over-the-top busted for most of the playthrough, and because EXP is distributed evenly among all team members, don’t be afraid to lean heavily on Pikachu while catching a few other pokemon for backup.

For one thing, the partner Pikachu has better stats than other Pikachu you can capture. It’s almost like starting the game with a Raichu. Better yet, you can start to chain Pikachu at Viridian Forest at the game’s outset. You start with piles of Pokeballs, so you can actually get a pretty decent chain going. If you do this, you’ll gain plenty of EXP, and as the chain continues, you’ll get Pikachu Candy. This candy will increase each of the partner Pikachu’s stats by 1, and as you give Pikachu more of them, this can really add up. You can also gain plenty of Quick Candy by chaining Pikachu, which is another perk.

You can increase Pikachu’s advantage by chaining various pokemon, such as Caterpie for Health Candy, and Oddish for Smart Candy, to name some early-game examples. It’s really not necessary to go for lots of these candies to breeze through the game, however. I mostly ignored candies as I played through, and didn’t really have any problems. This game won’t do much to challenge you, and if you exploit the games deeper mechanics, it will be easier still.

Playing with partner Pikachu seems like it’s just for fun, but increasing friendship with Pikachu makes it perform better in battle. For one thing, it can sometimes just shrug off status conditions, healing them on its own. It can also sometimes hang in there with 1 HP remaining when something would have knocked it out, giving you the opportunity to heal it up with a potion. Its critical hit rate increases, too. Not only that, if you play with Pikachu often, it can sometimes use a special move in battle that does more damage if it’s friendship level is higher, or can give a stat boost to a teammate if you (for some reason) have a different pokemon out.

One would think that Pikachu would have problems with Brock, but Pikachu can learn Double Kick at level 9, giving it a super-effective edge against the Rock types he uses. Double Kick remains a useful move for a while, but mind the fact that Rock types usually have high Defense stats which might offset the type advantage somewhat.

At Cerulean City, you’ll find a move tutor in the Pokemon Center that can teach the partner Pikachu Zippy Zap. Pikachu would already likely beat Misty as it is, but Zippy Zap is a useful priority move. What this means is that it goes first unless a faster opponent also uses a priority move. Also, this move has a 100% critical hit rate, so it does double damage, and it ignores defense stat buffs. That’s insane. And with a base speed of 120, Pikachu is likely to outspeed everything you come across (it helps that Electric types can’t be paralyzed).

Once your friendship level with Pikachu is high, you can get a Raichu outfit at the Pokemon Fan Club in Vermilion City. You might not be able to evolve the partner Pikachu into Raichu, but you can at least deck it out in its merchandise. And you get a Raichu outfit to wear, too.

The Celadon City Gym is Grass type, which resists Electric moves. This would normally be a problem for a Pikachu, but the partner Pikachu can learn a strong Flying move in the same town’s Pokemon Center. Floaty Fall is a better move than Fly because you don’t have to wait for the next turn for it to work, and it can make the opponent flinch. Two for flinching.

To get into Celadon Gym, you have to show the woman in front a cute pokemon. I tried it, and yes, Raichu can get you in. Because of course it can.

raichu heart.JPGAdorable.

What’s more, partner Pikachu can also learn a strong Water move, Splishy Splash, so it will have an option to sweep the gyms on Cinnabar Island and Viridian City.

Most of this guide is about how OP the partner Pikachu is, and how most in-game opponents don’t stand a chance against it. But what if the unthinkable happens and Pikachu gets hit with two critical hits from strong Ground moves in a row? When that happens, it helps to have some pokemon as backup. I’ve selected a couple suggestions that can help with some opponents that Pikachu might have to attack more than once to KO.

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While it might seem like a joke, Magikarp can evolve to a Gyarados at level 20. Gyarados can hit hard with strong Water moves, and with its secondary Flying typing, it will be immune to the Ground moves that Pikachu would be weak against. You can obtain a Magikarp early on if you buy one from the Magikarp salesman at the Pokemon Center at the base of Mt. Moon. The guy is supposed to come off as a conman, but obtaining a Magikarp that early on is actually a pretty sweet deal. Because party pokemon gain EXP from captures and from Pikachu’s battles, it wouldn’t take long to get a Gyarados just by having Magikarp hang around in your party.

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Pikachu can beat Lt. Surge. But if you want to be sure, you can catch a Diglett at Diglett’s Cave. I kinda feel bad for Lt. Surge. A pokemon that can beat his gym with ease can be obtained in mass quantities just outside of town. You might even be able to find and catch the evolved form, Dugtrio, instead. It’ll be able to carry it’s weight through most of the game, so it’s a nice catch. It’s mainly for getting you Lt. Surge’s gym badge with ease. You can also get his autograph, while you’re at it.

I like Surge’s taste in pokemon, by the way.

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The other three pokemon on your team is really a matter of personal preference. There are no HMs in this game to worry about, so you can add some favorites to your team or try a pokemon you might not have considered.

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The main reason to add Aerodactyl to your team is so you’ll have a pokemon to help you fly in the sky in the post-game. Charizard or Dragonite can also do the job, but Aerodactyl is the easiest to come by (just take the fossil from Pewter City to the research facility on Cinnabar Island).

026Raichu.png

It’s hard to disagree with having a Raichu following you around, and this game really brings out its cuteness. If you’d like, you can trade a Kantonian Raichu for an Alolan Raichu in Saffron City and give that one a try. It might be hard to trade a Raichu away, but you’d be getting a Raichu in return.

I’m having a hard time thinking of a sixth pokemon for a playthrough of Let’s Go Pikachu. Pikachu can get you through the game. Arcanine looks awesome, and riding it around is fun, so give that one a try if you feel inclined.

One might ask whether there’s a pokemon that can be brought in from Pokemon Go to make the game easier. Mewtwo, maybe? Pokemon Go Park is available late in the game (Fushia City), and the pokemon you get from it aren’t very high leveled and wouldn’t really break the game in the same way that the partner Pikachu has been up until that point.

If you have the Pokeball Plus accessory, you’re in for a really easy game (more so than it was already). If you put a pokemon in it at the start of the game and take it for a long real-life walk, it’s likely to gain piles of levels when the pokemon returns from the stroll (it doesn’t actually leave the game). You can use this to make the partner Pikachu even stronger than it has to be. The partner pokemon is actually the default option. If the event Mew is still available to you and you go for that, you can have a level 1 Mew early on. But it won’t remain level 1 for very long if you return it to the ball and take it for a decent walk.

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Mew has high base stats across the board, and can learn any TM in the game. You’re free to ponder the implications of that.

So there you have it, now you know how to beat one of the easiest games on the market. If you somehow found a way to lose a battle against an in-game opponent, please let me know how you did it in the comments below.

I actually lost my first attempt against Raichu Master Charlotte. The master trainers don’t mess around.

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