Tobold's Blog
Sunday, November 25, 2018
How to break Pokemon: Let's Go

I haven't played many Pokemon games, as I didn't own most of the handheld consoles on which these games appeared, like the Nintendo 2DS or 3DS. Thus as a non-expert I am actually the target audience of Pokemon: Let's Go. And as I had some time on my hand, I bought the Pikachu version on the game, and played it through to "the end" (you can continue afterwards) in 45 hours. On the plus side I like JRPG, and turn-based battle systems, so this was great for me. After some practice I got used to the virtual Pokeball catching mechanic. So the only thing I really disliked is how terribly linear the game is.

Now different people play games for different reasons. I am an explorer at heart, so one of my reasons is always finding out how the game system works, how it is balanced, and how you can break it. That turned out to be not so easy. You can't grind fights to become stronger, as all the fights are in fixed locations and happen only once. You can grind catching Pokemon, but that doesn't give you any money, and then you run out of Pokeballs and can't afford new ones. Fortunately there is a way around that: In several caves there is a man who will give you 10 free Pokeballs if you have less than 10 in your bag. Thus in a reasonable radius around him, you can catch Pokemon forever without running out of Pokeballs.

The way to really break that system is provided by the catch combo bonus: The more often you catch the same Pokemon without interruption (no catching other Pokemons, no Pokemons running away, no stopping the game and reloading), the higher the catch combo bonus gets. That provides you with more experience points, but more importantly more candy. Get your catch combo bonus ridiculously high, above 50, and you start seeing candy with the Pokemon's name on it. And these name candies are ridiculously overpowered if you collect them in large numbers.

So what I did was to use the first guy to give you those free Pokeballs to catch a large number of Geodude Pokemon. I got the catch combo bonus to over 70, and had nearly a hundred of Geodude candy. Now one name candy gives +1 to every stat, which is about the effect of half a level. I also got a lot of toughness candy. So I first used the toughness candy (and quickness candy I got from catching lots of Rattata), and then all the Geodude candy. That ended me up with a Geodude (later Graveller) who was far more powerful than his level would suggest. And having one ultra-powerful Pokemon is then helping a lot with the rest of the game.

Would I recommend this system? Maybe not. If your Pokemon are just barely winning against the trainers you meet, you end up using more different Pokemon and more different moves. You also need to walk back to heal more often, but overall the game is more exciting and fun. Creating an overpowered Pokemon gets you through the game much faster, but you'll have a lot of boring identical fights. I still like to have one powerful Pokemon like that around, for cases where you'd otherwise be stuck against a too powerful opponent.

You can also sell those candies to buy Pokeballs with if you'd rather not be tethered to the free ball guy.
Tobold - of all people - optimizes the fun out of ... Pokemon.

Sure, the designers are morons to make this. I mean is there a VALID reason to grab the same Pokemon again and again? Why reward this activity?
@Gevlon: I think it's them trying to notice when you're focusing on powering up one Pokemon, and accelerating that. Even before the combo bonuses come in, farming up lots of Pokemon still lets you trade those Pokemon in for candy which you can use to empower one Pokemon. The combo bonus is just a way for you to tell the game what you want to achieve, and shorten your grinding time.
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