How Pokémon Let’s Go is improving on a classic with Poké Ball Plus

The Poké Ball Plus caught our imagination as soon as it was announced alongside Pokémon Let’s Go. The small controller is shaped like a Poké Ball and you can play the entire game with it, whether you’re catching those adorable pocket monsters by swinging your arm or using its built-in analogue stick to move your trainer around the world. We’ve finally had the chance to test it out at Gamescom 2018, and it’s better than we could have ever hoped for.

Into the woods

We’re playing an early section of Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee (the little critter adorably sits on your trainer’s hat as you play), exploring Viridian Forest. Once we’ve strapped on our Poké Ball Plus, it’s a doddle to use. The little nub in the centre of the ball is used both as an analogue stick to move around and as a button to confirm your choices. It really is as simple as that.

It doesn’t take us too long to discover a wild Bellsprout hiding in the dense grass. Catching Pokémon in this version mirrors how you would catch a creature in Pokémon Go. First, we need to make it more amiable to us by chucking it some fruit. Then, once a circle over our new friend turns green, we know we’ve got a high chance of catching it. Using the Poké Ball Plus, it really is as simple as timing the flick of your wrist when said circle is at its smallest point.

Success! We catch the Bellsprout and the Poké Ball Plus shakes its approval, vibrating in a way that almost convinces us that we actually caught a Pokémon. In another neat touch, a ring around the centre lights up and pulses with the colours of the critter we’ve caught. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to feeling like we’re actually trainers and it takes a few hours before the grin on our face starts to fade.

Bug catcher battle

But the neat controller also holds its own when it comes to a trainer battle. We stumble into one with a Bug Catcher whose name is Billy, and doesn’t know that we’re about to school him.

This turn-based fight hews closer to Pokémon Yellow than Pokémon Go, and you need to choose which move you’ll make from the options available to you. This means the Poké Ball Plus’ simple control scheme is perfect for controlling your scrapping critters, as you can quickly scroll through your choices and confirm with a press of the Poké Ball.

While Pokéman Let’s Go will work just as well with a Joy-Con, there’s something instantly endearing about the immersion of playing with the Poké Ball Plus that should please fans old and new.