When I first started playing Pokémon Go (on exactly the day it launched two and a half years ago, according to my account journal), I don’t remember being explicitly promised that my Pokémon would actually mean anything one day, but the hope was always there. Maybe, I thought it would pay off later—if the game added trading, or friend battles, or some other feature that justified the otherwise meaningless hoarding.
Never did I imagine how fun and rewarding that eventual payoff could, and would, be. The daily grind these almost 30 months has been worth it. In addition to being able to supplement my Pokémon Let’s Go roster with the Pokémon that are harder and take longer to obtain, I’ve also stocked up enough Alola and Shinies to make the game extra special. By the time Pokémon Let’s Go launched last week, I already had a Shiny Growlithe ready to evolve into a Shiny Arcanine, one of the special, extra large Pokémon that I now ride through the cities of Kanto. I already had many of the Pokémon exclusive to the version I hadn’t bought, and was able to transfer them over without having to wait for a trade partner, uploading Pokémon from the many gift eggs and trades with family members and friends, and watching with glee as they made a home in my Go park. I have a Dugtrio that looks like Hanson, and a stunning icy Ninetales that is almost too pretty to use in battle. I have Alola Pokémon given to me by folks all over the world, a purple Pinsir from a community event, a bright rainbow striped Muk given to me by my husband. An unpredictable wave of nostalgia has crashed through my otherwise nascent Pokémon experience. As a crossover you really couldn’t ask for much more.
The only drawback to the system is that my time with Pokémon Let’s Go is cut that much shorter after supplementing the 151 slots in the Pokédex with those I already caught in Pokémon Go. But by the time I was ready to import those missing Pokémon into my file, I’d already spent so much time with the console game, anyway—you can’t even access the Pokémon Go center in Let’s Go until you reach Fuschia City, which adds some balance by not allowing the player to upload the entire Pokédex before they’ve even really played. I got my value out of every hour spent, despite how much of a leg up having access to the Pokémon I caught in Pokémon Go gave me towards the end. And I get the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t take any shortcuts, either—I earned every single one of those Pokémon and, due to the shared catching mechanics, even caught them exactly the same way. Look Ma, no cheating.
I have to hand it to Niantic, The Pokémon Company and Nintendo for playing the long game. In terms of updating Pokémon for a new generation, that managed to kill two birds with one stone, conquering the wildly lucrative mobile gaming platform and the home console (both a series first) in a way that doesn’t just highlight the strengths of each but also adds value to the time already spent in Pokémon Go. I have so many special Pokémon in my roster that would have taken ages to collect in Pokémon Let’s Go—and given the limited battery life and portability of the console game, who knows if I’d ever have stuck with the game to actually find one organically. For as long as the daily grind in Pokémon Go took, it was worth it. I’m completely satisfied.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.