The Poké Ball Plus is an excellent way to experience Pokémon: Let’s Go
- Strong and nostalgic design
- Thumbstick is responsive and reliable
- Sound effects are just brilliant
- A little bit expensive
- Motion controls are inconsistent
- Lacking capture and home buttons
- Review Price: £49.99
- Compatible with Nintendo Switch
- USB-C Charging Port
- Wireless Controller
What is the Poké Ball Plus?
Launching alongside Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Let’s Go, Eevee, the Poké Ball Plus is a peripheral designed to tug at your childhood heartstrings. It’s like Nintendo and Game Freak jumped inside their games and came away with a real life Poke Ball for us to use. Despite the wholesome whimsy we associate with it, the device isn’t without its flaws.
You can play the Nintendo Switch RPG in its entirety with the Poké Ball Plus, holding it in one hand while using the agile thumbstick and inconsistent motion controls. However, it can be finicky to use in some areas, making it easier to play in handheld mode for the most seamless experience.
That being said, is this fancy peripheral worth the rather steep asking price, or should you stick with the Switch’s standard control methods?
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Poké Ball Plus Controls – How does it play?
Designed with both young and old players in mind, the Poké Ball Plus can feel rather small in some hands, my own included. However, even after several hours of play it never resulted in irritable cramp or similar problems. The controller thumbstick is located in the middle, also acts as the A Button for selecting commands and navigating menus with a light click.
It’s really intuitive and easy to understand, complimented further by how sturdy the entire device feels in the hand. A larger, somewhat more obvious input is featured on its top, acts as your B Button. Finally, giving the controller a shake equates to pressing the Y Button used to immediately get Pikachu or Eevee’s attention while roaming Kanto.
I was worried that the motion input would be finicky and unreliable, but it worked pretty much every time I used it, although I did look a bit silly shaking a plastic ball in my hand while on the train. Sadly, other uses of motion control aren’t nearly as a painless, and are oftentimes frustrating.
While you’ll rarely need to move the Poké Ball Plus around to aim your balls while catching creatures, you will need to use a Wii-style pointer to stroke, play with and get along with your Pikachu/Eevee. The controls are very imprecise at times, and feel far too sensitive to ever be satisfying. The touch-screen method in portable mode is the best alternative, especially since this is such a key part of Let’s Go.
One major negative here is the distinct lack of a home or capture button. This makes it difficult to take screenshots of your adventure without having another joy-con nearby, which is what I resorted to during my playthrough. It’s an unfortunate compromise, although having the small ball littered with buttons would be equally unpleasant.
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Poké Ball Plus Audio – How does it sound?
Obviously, you aren’t getting amazing audio out of such a little thing, but the audio it does emit is lovingly nostalgic. Every time you catch a Pokémon its classic sound effect will emit from the ball, indicating it’s been caught and now belongs to you. In contrast, if they manage to escape you’ll be met with a harsh response from the Poké Ball Plus.
It’s not integral to the gaming experience in Pokémon Let’s Go, but it does serve to increase immersion is a way that is incredibly charming, particular for fans of older RPG entries. If you’re a newcomer, many of the great parts of Pokémon GO are also present in the Poké Ball Plus such the different colour lights surround the thumbstick. Successfully catch a Pokemon and it’ll flash a friendly yellow, while a failure results in a violent red flash.
Why buy the Poké Ball Plus?
The Poké Ball Plus is a great bit of kit, and arguably essential for hardcore Pokémon fans eager to grow their collection. But, it isn’t required for Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee, and thus it’s difficult to wholeheartedly recommend at the £49.99 price point.
That being said, it remains an excellent way to experience Pokémon: Let’s Go if you’re willing to make the investment, and certainly something we’re happy to have on our gaming shelves.
An essential for hardcore Pokémon fans.