My son and I have finished playing through both Let’s Go Pikachu and Sword & Shield on the Nintendo Switch, so here’s a short comparison.
As Let’s Go is a remake of Pokémon Yellow, one of the first Pokémon games, it is set in the Kanto region, and the story mimics the Indigo League anime. As such the setting is very iconic with places like Pallet Town and the original Pokémon, gym leaders, and of course Team Rocket’s Jesse and James.
Sword & Shield uses the setting of the anime of the same name, the Galar region, which is modelled after Great Britain. If you’ve watched the series, this will be familiar to you, but it is not iconic as the Kanto setting.
The biggest difference between the two games. Let’s Go has a bit of a retro vibe, with a fixed birds-eye view and 16-bit sprites in several places. Sword & Shield uses a true third-person 3D view, and looks much more modern, with a hint of cell shading.
The basic premise is the same – you explore the region on a pretty much pre-defined path, catching Pokémon and fighting other trainers. The main goals are earning eight badges and eventually challenging the top trainers in a final match. In Sword & Shield, catching requires you to first battle a wild Pokémon to weaken it. In Let’s Go, this is replaced by a dexterity game that involves throwing the balls with the Joy-Con. Battling works essentially the same. The advantage of Sword & Shield is that, if you’ve faced the type of Pokémon before, you get to see whether an attack will be effective or not.
Sword & Shield is more straightforward, with fewer trainers to battle against. You can also fly to places from the very beginning, an ability that isn’t obtained in Let’s Go until later in the game. The big difference is that Sword & Shield is single-player only, whereas Let’s Go can be played co-op by two people (which makes battles much easier).
Let’s Go beats Sword & Shield in my opinion – you’ve got the original Kanto setting and 150 Pokémon, and the two-player option is great for playing with your kid.