Released in 2018, Pokémon Let’s Go: Pikachu! and Eevee! Offered fans something special. First, they were massive remakes of the ancient Pokémon Yellow. Yellow (1998) was, in its own turn, a greatly updated version of the first Pokémon games Red and Blue, fixing many of their bugs and updating the game to match the burgeoning anime show.
Pokémon: Let’s Go kept the core of Yellow but massively enhanced everything else with a new version made for the Nintendo Switch. With the overhauled graphics and new improvements, it’s easy to mistake for a brand-new game. But as Yellow did, Pokémon: Let’s Go incorporates many more references to the animated series, and is designed more for young players and newcomers. Plus, they also interact with Pokémon Go and offer tricks with a dedicated controller called the Poke Ball Plus.
Pikachu and Eevee represent the two versions of the game: Instead of choosing from a few starter Pokémon, one version starts with Pikachu and one version starts with Eevee. That makes the choice easier for young players, but other Pokémon options quickly branch out. The game includes all the original 151 Pokémon, plus their Mega Evolved forms that were added over the decades. That’s a lot of choices! Let’s make it simpler by going over the best Pokémon to aim for when building out your team.
Note: See our FAQs to understand why, despite their unique powers, we aren’t recommending your starter Pokémon as any best picks for those who want to really push their game. Also, while every Pokémon has its own stat ranges, stats can be randomized for captured Pokémon. In some cases, you’ll want to catch a species many times in a row to look for a particularly powerful one.
For players who want to pick the most powerful Pokémon in their playthrough, Charmander is a must-have. This Pokémon has been updated since the days of Yellow, and in addition to its fire type passive, it starts with a healthy amount of special attack and defense, as well as fair amount of speed. But the real payoff comes as you level to evolve (which happens comparatively fast). Charmander becomes Charmeleon and then Charizard, which gets massive attack power, becoming a powerhouse during later battles in the game.
Of course, with the Mega stone, you can also evolve Charizard into Mega Charizard X or Y during battle to give them an enormous buff. Not many enemies have a chance, then. The trick is that Charmander can be difficult to find in the beginning. One of the best early strategies is to catch as many Pokémon as possible (repeats count). After you’ve captured 50 during a playthrough, find a man on route 24 in the fields, and he’ll give you his Charmander for free.
It looks awesome, it’s one of the most powerful electric types, and it’s a legendary on everyone’s list — why wouldn’t you want a Zapdos? This flying Pokémon has excellent passive abilities that make it a terror to fight again, including taking away extra power points from its opponent and paralyzing opponents who try to physically attack it. Add in powerful moves like Thunder Shock or item-stealing moves like Pluck, and you’ll be victorious in no time. For longer battles, Zapdos also has a number of stat-boosting and defensive abilities to help its team.
Of course, legendary Pokémon aren’t always easy to get, and they usually aren’t an option at the beginning of the game. To acquire Zapdos, you need to master sky dash and sea skim, so you can sneak up a canal by Cerulean city to enter the Power Plant. Get around the maze to battle the level 50 Zapdos inside and use Ultra Balls to capture it during the fight. Rock and ice types work well against this legendary!
As you can guess, a fighting-type Pokémon excels at dealing damage quickly, and can quickly become a mainstay in any effective team. We like Machop for a couple of important reasons beyond the obvious high attack power and defense. First, its move set is deceptively useful, with abilities that can lower speed, deal damage based on level, and allow physical attacks to hit ghost types, among much more. It can even disable items in mid-fight with the right attacks. But Machop also makes an excellent pick to teach special Technical Machine moves to if you really want to round it out.
This Pokémon will only reach its full power over time, evolving into Machoke at level 28. Then you’ll want to play with a friend and do some trading so that you can reach the final evolution, the incredibly powerful Machamp. Among other tricks, Machamp does more damage when inflicted with status ailments, allowing skilled players to really experiment.
If you like water and ice types, then Lapras absolutely needs to be on your list. One of the most powerful water types throughout the series, Lapras has good stats and many different ways to approach battles. It’s a master of debuffs that can inflict sleep, freeze, lower attack power, paralyze, and more. Tricky moves like Ice Shard and Brine can also quickly take down opponents in the right circumstances. Meanwhile, clever attacks like Perish Song and Sheer Cold can quickly end battles or force opponents to make difficult decisions.
Abilities like these make Lapras a great pick for all kinds of battles, but you’ll need to find it first. Fortunately, getting Lapras is very easy if you know what you’re doing. When you reach Saffron City and journey through the Silph Co. tower, take some time on the seventh floor to talk to a man sitting there. He’ll give you Lapras for free. Or you can take your chances out in the wild around Route 19.
Your playthrough will work best if you assemble a well-rounded Pokémon team that’s ready to take on anything. No matter which Pokémon eventually becomes your favorite, Nidoran makes an excellent ally for nearly any team. Its poison abilities and chance-to-poison passive are particularly useful in more drawn-out fights. Then, when it’s time for a takedown, Nidoran can hit like a truck with moves like Thrash and Earth Power to quickly end the battle.
You can find Nidoran quite easily and add it to your team ASAP by searching along Route 9 or Route 10 as you play. Another reason we like this Pokémon is that it evolves fairly quickly at level 16. However, to get the powerful Nidoking/queen, you’ll need a Moon Stone from Mt. Moon in the game. That part takes a lot more patience, but it’s well worth it!
This dragon provides your Pokémon team with lots of options in the endgame, an ideal option for those who want a powerful addition to their team. In addition to good states and some nice passive connected to status ailments, Dratini gets some useful base attacks. That includes the reliable Dragon Rage which always does the same amount of damage no matter what, and Agility to greatly increase speed.
Dratini eventually evolves into the very powerful Dragonite, a flying dragon type, through extensive leveling. Dragonites are very difficult to find normally, so it’s best to start early with a Dratini and use them to the greatest extent possible. You can locate Dratini on Route 10 in a patch of water using Sea Skim, but you’ll want to raise your Catch Combo as high as possible (more on this below).
Magikarp is famous for being useless until it evolves into a more powerful form, but in Let’s Go it becomes incredibly strong as a result. Get Magikarp to level 20 and it will become Gyarados, the highly effective flying water creature with an array of devastating attacks. With the right stone, you can also Mega Volve Gyarados into an overpowered form for any tough fights.
In addition to powerful water attacks, players can teach this Pokémon a wide variety of Technical Machine moves to customize it for many purposes, especially those connected to damage. Plus, Magikarp is very easy to find early in the game if you have 500 currency and stop by the Pokemon Center (or look for it in various patches of water). Because evolution is so important for this Pokémon, you’ll want to look for a Huge Magikarp with great stats to get the best result.
Pokémon: Let’s Go is about fun and personality, and sometimes the best picks aren’t the Pokémon with the strongest stats. Take Rhyhorn: This stony Pokémon doesn’t have the highest special attack or impressive speed, but it’s our favorite mount in the game. Let’s Go allows you to ride certain Pokémon as you travel: Rhyhorn’s rhinoceros-like appearance makes him an excellent pick for getting around in style, no matter what you like to do when you’re gaming.
Of course, for those who do want to fight, Rhyhorn comes with plenty of advantages. It’s immune to electric-type attacks and recoil damage. Native moves include plenty of charging and ground-based attacks that can do lots of damage and ignore some defensive strategies. The Pokémon can also learn a wide variety of attacks to supplement its moves.
Play with Rhyhorn long enough (and it does take a lot of leveling), and it will also transform in Rhydon. Rhydon is bigger and moves faster as a mount, upgrading the traveling experience even more! And with the right items, players may be able to evolve to Rhyperior, too.
You’re not really surprised that Mewtwo made the list, are you? Battling and capturing this legendary Pokémon can prove challenging, but players are rewarded with an immensely power psychic type. Mewtwo is an excellent choice for endgame activities with its superb stats, options for Mega Evolution, and variety of psychic ailments it can inflict.
However, capturing Mewtwo is one of the most challenging parts of the game. First, you’ll need to complete the campaign and defeat the Elite Four, then head to Cerulean City. With a little exploration, you can find Cerulean Cave. Explore this dungeon and navigate all the way to the farthest reaches to find a level 70 Mewtwo on a crystal island. You have five minutes to try and capture the Pokémon, but it’s going to take some controller skills to do it, so you’ll want to save first! Don’t worry if its takes some practice before you finally succeed.
FAQs for Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu! and Eevee!
Let’s wrap up with a few final questions about getting the absolute best Pokémon for these games.
What’s the Best Way to Catch Pokémon in Pokémon: Let’s Go?
It’s very different from Pokémon games before Pokémon Go, and players new or returning should understand the differences.
In Pokémon: Let’s Go (either version), you don’t capture them by throwing battle and roll the dice by throwing a Pokeball. Instead, you enter a completely different mini-game that’s similar to how Pokémon Go did things. Players throw berries at a Pokémon to make it chill out, then throw a Pokeball to capture it.
Players manage these throwing games by using the Switch’s native motion controls to guide their toss with timed movements. If they have the Pokeball controller accessory, they can move it around instead.
This capture system has several consequences. First, if you know what you’re doing, it’s almost impossible to fail capturing a Pokémon (except for very difficult legendaries). Second, since there’s no battle to speak of, meeting and capturing wild Pokémon can take less time, and the game is faster as a result (with more emphasis on exploration).
Finally, Let’s Go introduces the Catch Combo. Basically, the more you catch the same Pokémon species over again in a row, the higher your Catch Combo rises. This is important, because a higher Combo helps attract rare Pokémon in their respective areas. It also increases the chances of running across a Shiny Pokémon, or capturing a Pokémon with higher stats.
How Do You Level Up Quickly in Pokémon: Let’s Go?
Gaining experience also works very differently in the Let’s Go games than older generations. If you’ve played Pokémon X and Y, you may notice some returning systems. For example, you get experience not just from defeating Pokémon in trainer battles, but by capturing the wild Pokémon you find through exploring.
However, Let’s Go also has experience bonuses that depend on your capturing technique. If you use the motion controls well, get the timing right, and literally practice good throwing form, you’ll get more experience. If you or a young player is struggling with that aspect, you can switch to push buttons for timing instead.
Can I Stick with Pikachu or Eevee Through the Entire Game?
Yes and no. These starter Pokémon represent an important decision and are more like your friends. They sit on the character’s shoulder and help them navigate the world as players explore. So they never go away…but you will want to stop using them in battles eventually. That’s because your starter buddies can’t evolve. Only the Pokémon you catch in the wild as you play can evolve into new forms.
Starter Pokémon are excellent picks for the first battles, because they start off with very strong stats, special moves, and experience gains. But if you really want a Pikachu on your team in the long term, you’ll have to catch a new wild one and train it until it can evolve, then use that Pokémon for battles. Otherwise, your power levels will fall behind eventually.
What Other Mechanics Have Changed in Pokémon: Let’s Go?
If you’re used to playing previous games or even Pokémon Go, note that a number of mechanics are different in this game besides those we mentioned. Some changes help streamline the game for younger players, while others let it follow the original Yellow more closely. That includes:
- Wild Pokémon are not random encounters, but rather visible on the overworld and can be engaged or avoided
- There is no Pokémon breeding
- There are no Hidden Machines to teach special moves (although Technical Machines exist)
- Many past trading systems are gone, replaced by a three-glyph code connection system on the Switch (it’s pretty weird)
However, other mechanics have been added to keep Yellow updated, including a separate affinity system for your starter Pokémon, picking a Pokémon to follow behind you when you travel, and more.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Pokemon.com.