13 essential Pokemon Let's Go tips to know before you play

Whether you're coming to Pokemon Let's Go afresh, straight from two years solid Pokemon Go action or are a seasoned pro, there are certainly some things about Pokemon Let's Go that could be considered a little quirky. Or at least might make you scratch your head a little. But don't worry, we've beaten the Elite Four, almost completed our Pokedex and have come back from Kanto with a book-load of Pokemon Let's Go tips that you might find handy to keep written on a piece of paper you keep tucked in your Pokedex. 

1. Bonding with your buddy grants you sure-hit moves in battles

You might think bonding with your Pikachu or Eevee is just a silly, and ridiculously adorable, mini-game, but it's actually super handy. As you bond with your buddy, it'll unlock various perks, the two most important being a pair of sure-hit moves that you can use in battle. If you're fighting with Pikachu, a quick shake of the Joy-Con or Poke Ball Plus when prompted will cause it to unleash a sure-hit attack called Pika Pow. Doing the same while fighting with any other Pokemon will cause Pikachu to use the simply named Pikachu's support, which improves the all the stats of your attacking Pokemon. Nice. 

2. Candies work quite differently in Let's Go to Pokemon Let's Go

If you're a Pokemon Go veteran you'll know that the currency of candy is a pretty big deal in Niantic's mobile game. You earn it by catching Pokemon, transferring duplicates to the Poke Prof, and use it to evolve your Pokemon. But over in Pokemon Let's Go, it serves quite a different purpose. Feeding your Pokemon candy increases their stats, rather than levelling up. That you'll have to do by catching wild Pokemon to earn XP, and, of course, battling. 

Candies in Pokemon Let's Go are instead split into different categories, which build your Pokemon's stats in very specific areas, with L types for Pokemon level 30 or above, and XL for Pokemon level 60 or above:

  • Quick Candy (increase speed by one)
  • Smart Candy (increase Sp. Atk by one)
  • Mighty Candy (increase Attack by one)
  • Tough Candy (increase Defense by one)
  • Health Candy (increases HP by one)
  • Courage Candy (increase Sp. Def by one)
  • Rare Candy (increases your Pokemon's level by one)

You can also find Pokemon specific candy, which boosts all that Pokemon's stats by one in a single munch. You'll gather these by either transferring that Pokemon to the professor, or chain catching that Pokemon. You'll also get some Snorlax, Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres and Mewtwo just for catching any of these aforementioned Pokemon. 

3. Everything contributes to your total XP during a catch

Sometimes it's easier to rack up a whole load of XP just by catching some Pokemon, rather than engaging rival trainers in a battle, and that's because everything you do in the catching process contributes to your multiplier score. Getting a nice / great / excellent throw, nabbing the Pokemon on your first Poke Ball, having good technique (whatever that means), catching something you don't have in your Pokedex… it all counts towards your overall XP multiplier, meaning getting a new Pokemon on your first ball with an excellent throw is basically winning the XP jackpot. 

4. Always catch Huge or Tiny Pokemon over 'normal' ones

You'll notice as wild Pokemon start appearing that some pop up with red or blue swirling rings around them. Well, a red ring indicates that it's huge in size, and blue rings are for tiny Pokemon. Not only does that affect their stats, but it also means aiming for one of these is going to get you additional XP on top of all that loving catching magic.

5. Pokemon can flee at any point during the catching process

If you've played Pokemon Go, you'll know that Pokemon will only flee after you've tried to catch them and they've escaped from the ball. However, the critters in Pokemon Let's Go are much more spirited and can, and will, flee at ANY point during the catching process. And yes, that does include after you've fed them a berry and mid-Poke Ball throw. I'd suggest if you really want to nab a certain Pokemon, like something rare or a higher evolution, use the best balls possible, feed them a Razz Berry first and don't dawdle. Speed is of the essence here, folks.

6. It sometimes pays to wait in the long grass

Although long-term Pokemon fans will be used to running about in the long grass bumping into as many Pokemon as they possibly can, the fact that you can see the wild critters available for catching in Pokemon Let's Go is quite literally a game changer. What that means is that you can avoid anything you don't want to catch and just wander up to anything that you do. It therefore may behoove you to wait in the long grass to see exactly what Pokemon are lurking in the greenery. Pokemon are basically on a spawn rotation, so the longer you wait the more likely you are to see everything that particular patch has to offer, including the rare guys. 

7. Building up a catch combo heightens your chances of a shiny Pokemon appearing

If you catch lots of the same type of Pokemon in a row, the chances of a shiny appearing will continuously increase. Catching the same Pokemon all in a row builds what's called a Catch Combo, and as long as you don't catch anything else, or let the Pokemon flee, you can keep that counter rising up and up. Thankfully, if you accidentally bump into something else and back out of the battle, that won't reset your counter, but I will say again, if a Pokemon you're trying to catch flees, that will reset the counter. And I'm speaking from experience here. 

You will see the Shiny Pokemon appear on the map before you catch them, visually showing that they're something a bit special - e.g. a Green Zubat - but interestingly they won't show up as a Shiny or anything different in your Pokemon Box, so make sure to favourite them or otherwise label them as soon as you catch them to prevent any mistaken trades or transfers. 

Although I will add that this is absolutely not guaranteed. I got to a 307 Zubat combo before abandoning ship without seeing a single shiny.

8. Don't worry about trying to catch Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle

Although your Pikachu or Eevee buddy is for life, you're probably going to start thinking about cheating on them with one of the original Gen 1 Starter Pokemon - Charmander, Squirtle and Bulbasaur. Well, there's good news, and more good news. You can actually catch all three in the wild in Pokemon Let's Go, but you also have the opportunity to get given one of each for absolutely free by speaking to some NPCs, just like back in Pokemon Yellow. You'll get Charmander from a struggling trainer just after Nugget Bridge, which lies on Route 24 north of Cerulean City. Bulbasaur comes via a lady in a house just north of the entrance to Cerulean City itself. And you'll get Squirtle from Officer Jenny in Vermilion City.

9. Keep your eyes peeled for Prof. Oak's aide

The man in white coats is coming! And he's not trying to take you away, he's trying to help. Prof. Oak's Aide is hiding away in the Guard posts on several routes along your Pokemon journey, and he'll reward you for various stages of your Pokedex completion. Find him upstairs at the guard tower on Route 11 East of Vermillion City once you've caught 30 species of Pokemon and he'll give you the Pokemon Rating feature, which lets you see how good your Pokemon's stats are. Find him again upstairs in the guard tower on Route 16 just west of Celadon City with 40 species ticked off and he'll give you 30 Ultra Balls. But the ultimate perk is when you've got 50 species of Pokemon and head to meet him upstairs at guard tower on Route 15 just east of Fuchsia City, which is when he'll give you lab coat-themed Assistant outfits for you and Pikachu. 

10. Talk to everyone you find

And speaking of conversing with the locales, you should actually make it your mission to talk to every NPC the Kanto region has to offer. Not only can they have Starter Pokemon for you, but speaking to people can also be incredibly lucrative. Some will give you money, others offer Pokemon trades, and some hold the key to unlocking exclusive outfits for you and Pikachu. And we all want those, right? 

11. You can get Alolan Pokemon through NPC trades

If you talk to the people lurking in Pokemon Centres throughout Kanto, you'll find that some will offer you a rather strange trade. The first one wants to trade a Rattata for a Rattata, which might sound like utter madness, but what they actually want you to do is swap your standard Kanto Rattata in all its purple, normal-type glory, for their Alolan Rattata, with its black fur and dark / normal type ways. It's currently the only way to get Alolan versions of all the Pokemon outside of Pokemon Go trading, so it's worth looking out for these characters in Pokemon Centres. 

Here's a reminder of all the Alolan Pokemon available:

  • Alolan Rattata
  • Alolan Raticate
  • Alolan Diglett
  • Alolan Dugtrio
  • Alolan Vulpix
  • Alolan Ninetails
  • Alolan Geodude
  • Alolan Graveler
  • Alolan Golem
  • Alolan Grimer
  • Alolan Muk
  • Alolan Raichu
  • Alolan Marowak
  • Alolan Meowth
  • Alolan Persian
  • Alolan Exeggutor 
  • Alolan Sandshrew
  • Alolan Sandslash

12. Start saving up Gen 1 Pokemon in Pokemon Go

If you're someone who's going to be dual-wielding Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let's Go, you should start stocking up on Gen 1 Pokemon in Go. Not only will you be able to trade your Pokemon from Go into Pokemon Let's Go's Go Park and add them to your collection, you can also unlock special mini-games when you transfer 25 of the same species from Go to Let's Go. So you better start stocking up on those Weedles. Seriously. 

13. It's actually quite difficult to change Pikachu's hairstyle

Remember when everyone went mad about the ability to give Eevee bangs and Pikachu some kind of bouffant hairstyle when it was revealed in a Pokemon Let's Go trailer? Well, it's definitely a "thing" in Pokemon Let's Go, but it's actually rather tricky to work out. I was thinking you'd take your buddy to some kind of Poke hairdresser, but actually you can modify their hairstyles yourself. Switch to handheld mode, head into the Play With Pikachu / Eevee section and then 'massage' your buddy's head with two or more fingers. You can unlock a range of hairstyles by moving your fingers in different motions. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to which hairstyle you get, but there are plenty to cycle through. 

Not excited by Pokemon Let's Go? Why not check out our pick for the 25 best Nintendo Switch games?

Sam Loveridge
Global Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Sam Loveridge is the Global Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar, and joined the team in August 2017. Sam came to GamesRadar after working at TrustedReviews, Digital Spy, and Fandom, following the completion of an MA in Journalism. In her time, she's also had appearances on The Guardian, BBC, and more. Her experience has seen her cover console and PC games, along with gaming hardware, for a decade, and for GamesRadar, she's in charge of the site's overall direction, managing the team, and making sure it's the best it can be. Her gaming passions lie with weird simulation games, big open-world RPGs, and beautifully crafted indies. She plays across all platforms, and specializes in titles like Pokemon, Assassin's Creed, The Sims, and more. Basically, she loves all games that aren't sports or fighting titles! In her spare time, Sam likes to live like Stardew Valley by cooking and baking, growing vegetables, and enjoying life in the countryside.