Pokémon: Let’s Go launches today for the Nintendo Switch, but the tablet’s Joy-Cons aren’t the only way to play. Nintendo is releasing a special peripheral called Poké Ball Plus as a standalone and a bundle with Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!. The handheld poké ball is adorable, but is it worth an extra $40 to $50?
The Poké Ball has a lot to offer in the way of features, starting with rare pokémon Mew. Connecting the peripheral for the first time will gift you with a level 1 pokémon to add to your lineup. As a controller, the Poké Ball Plus is limited to two buttons — confirm and cancel — and a joystick. Like the Joy-Con, it also includes motion controls that allow you to simulate tossing a poké ball in-game. These simple commands will get you through Pokémon: Let’s Go, whether you’re battling or catching pokémon. For Pokémon Go players, it also functions as a new Pokémon Go Plus. Regardless of which game you’re playing, you can bring a pal with you for a walk by transferring it into the poké ball for extra experience perks.
But menu navigation, which uses more than two buttons on the Joy-Con, can be a pain. Want to use shortcuts to take pokémon out of their balls, or access your storage boxes? They don’t exist. Want to access your game options? You can’t, unless you switch back to a Joy-Con. Functionality frustrations aside, the Poké Ball Plus does feel good to play with — at least for shorter sessions. The ball itself fit neatly in my palm and has a pleasant smooth finish. Keeping my hand curled around it for more than half an hour at a time, though, left me with hand cramps.
As a longtime fan, it makes me nostalgic and a little giddy to play with a poké ball controller. It’s cute, even if I wouldn’t throw my wallet at it. An updated Pokémon Go Plus is a strong sell for Pokémon Go players, yet the real allure for everyone else may be what’s inside it. For players hoping to complete their pokédex — or who just want the pink, cat-like creature on their team — immediate access to Mew might make the price tag much more reasonable.