Praise be to Arceus: two new Pokémon games have been released! Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! are the first in the main series to come out on the Nintendo Switch, offering major changes to the mechanics of a gaming institution now over two decades old.
Let's Go is set in the Kanto region and populated by the first generation of Pokémon, although integration with the mobile tie-in Pokémon Go and in-game trading opportunities provide the player with the opportunity to expand their Pokédex beyond the original 150. While not a straight remake of the original Pokémon: Yellow game like 2004's FireRed and LeafGreen were for the GameBoy Advance, the reboot gives new fans a good introductory point and older ones a nostalgic trip back to where their love of catching 'em all first began.
With so much Poké-lore available, Game Freak couldn't resist nestling some Easter eggs into the new games, as well as references to wider pop and internet culture that fans have come to expect from each release. The new Pokémon games are a fun romp through Kanto and a happy sign that the series will continue to exhilarate fans and evolve.
Over the desk in your bedroom hangs a framed picture of a battle scene between Nidorino and Gengar. New fans might dismiss it as a random piece of wall art, but older ones should immediately clock this as a callback to a signature piece of Pokémon history.
The same encounter serves as the opening title sequence for Red and Blue and has since between replicated repeatedly in proceeding games, including the FireRed and LeafGreen remakes, as well as other media in the Pokémon franchise.
If you take a moment to watch what's playing on the TV in your bedroom at the start of the game, the description tells you it's a movie about four boys walking on train tracks. Sound familiar? If you're a Stephen King fan, you'll immediately recognize this as the premise for the King novel-turned-classic-'80s-movie Stand By Me. It's a cute parallel to draw considering the Pokémon games are essentially coming-of-age adventures.
This is also a double Easter egg, as the movie also played on your bedroom TV in the original games, and has been referenced in many others since.
Once you've defeated the Elite Four, the post-game story drops more than 100 Master Trainers onto the map for you to battle. These trainers are "masters" of a particular Pokémon and can only be defeated with the same monster. It's designed to be the ultimate test of your skills as the new Kanto Champion, but also offers an unexpected treat for Batman fans.
The Zubat and Golbat Masters are named Scientist West and Keaton respectively, and can be found hanging around in the dark inside the Rock Tunnel and Victory Road's underground network. These can only be nods to two of the first actors to play the Caped Crusader - Adam West and Michael Keaton.
One of the best cameos from the Pokémon franchise is the appearance of Blue, famed rival of original Kanto Champ Red, and the inspiration for Gary Oak in the anime series. Blue shows up to give you tidbits on Team Rocket's goings-on, and once Giovanni is ousted as Viridian City Gym Leader, he tells you that he's thinking of taking it over and doing some redecorating. This is a call-forward to where we know Blue ends up in the Gold/Silver/Crystal games, which were direct sequels to the originals.
Even better, when Professor Oak can't remember his name, Blue grumbles, "Ugh, that joke sucks, Gramps!" This is, of course, a nod to the long-running gag about Professor Oak asking you to remind him of his own grandson's name at the start of each game in which he features.