I've always wanted to get into Pokemon, but never knew where to start. So I asked TheGamer's Pokemon-obsessed editors which game in the series I should play first, settling (somewhat controversially) on Let's Go because A) it's new-ish B) I know all the Pokemon from the anime and C) it's on Switch, my console of choice. Here, then, is an account of my first steps as a Pokemon trainer.

In the first Diary of a Pokemon First Timer, which I guess is a series now, I documented my first steps into the world of imprisoning small creatures in balls and forcing them to fight each other for sport. Since then I've sunk another ten hours into Let's Go Pikachu, and I'm still loving it. Last time I talked about growing surprisingly attached to my Pokemon, and that feeling has only grown stronger over time. The new star of my party (sorry, Ivysaur) is my rock-slinging Alolan Graveler, which is way cooler than the regular Graveler because it's encrusted with crystals and has eyebrows. The game should be called Let's Go Graveler.

Related: Diary Of A Pokemon First Timer: Now I Get Why These Games Are So Popular

However, as much fun as I'm having battling my way around Kanto, I find the game's relentlessly chirpy, upbeat tone slightly grating at times. It's such a sanitised, clean-cut game, with every edge aggressively smoothed off to appeal to as broad an audience as possible—including, let's be honest, tiny children. But that all changed when I got to Lavender Town. Remember: I didn't play Pokemon Red, Yellow, or any of the other Gen 1 games, so this is all new to me. I'm 26 years late to the party. Which is why it was such a shock to the system when I stepped into this purple-tinged town and felt the mood suddenly, sharply shift.

The music was the first clue that this town was not like the others I'd visited so far. For the first time in hours, the ceaseless, cheery din of the game's bombastic orchestral score suddenly descended into a minor key. The original Game Boy version of this music is, apparently, somewhat infamous, birthing a 'creepypasta' involving Japanese children allegedly killing themselves after hearing it. I can see why the music has spawned these kinds of urban legends, because it's quite unsettling—and completely out of place in a game like this. The newly updated Let's Go version isn't quite as eerie, but still a big tonal shift.

I explore and learn that Lavender Town is home to a multi-story burial site for Pokemon that have died, and that people travel here from all over Kanto to mourn their dead companions. This sudden change in atmosphere caught me off guard. Here's the most twee, kid-friendly, colourful game imaginable, now talking about death. There's a heartbreaking subplot here too involving a lil Cubone looking for the ghost of his mother who was… murdered by Team Rocket? He’s even wearing her skull. Heavy stuff, man. I thought this was a game for babies. When I left I was almost relieved when the orchestra resumed its cheerful honking.

But it was a memorable moment, and it jolted me out of the daze I was starting to slip into. I felt like Let's Go was spinning its wheels a bit, and the lack of variety between the different towns I visited was increasingly disappointing. But this made things interesting again, and I'm looking forward to seeing what other surprises are in store as I head to the next settlement and beyond. I'm trying to Google as little as possible as I play, and it's refreshing knowing next to nothing about such a popular, established game. I wasn't expecting a Pokemon game to briefly detour into existential horror, but here we are. Life's full of surprises.

Next: Revisiting Kanto - We Don't Deserve Lavender Town