Pokémon Sword and Shield was revealed to huge excitement, then quickly after some announcements, the Pokémon community was split in a way that I’ve never seen before. Ironic, considering the games are based on the United Kingdoms and our current political situations, Game Freak nailed that. But I was not a huge believer that the controversy would be the downfall of the game, stated in past posts, I don’t believe that the cutting of Pokémon was a huge problem, I still don’t.
Whilst the games were masked in controversy they released this trailer;
And oh, how my childhood was used to get me excited for the game. That is the obvious intent of the advert and boy, did it work.
So, buying Pokémon Sword on the day of release, I stayed up to play through the first part of the game and fell in love. The world is beautiful, truly, the team responsible for the artwork in the game deserve a pat on the back. The game is full of life, with Pokémon appearing the in the overworld and towns being distinctly different from each other, the game truly feels alive.
If you told me as a kid I would be able to explore an area where Pokémon walked free, appeared in different weather conditions and at different times, I would not have believed you. But the wild zone became my favourite part of the game instantly and I spent so much time there, catching different Pokémon and hatching my first shiny Pokémon, Dreepy. But unfortunately, this became the main game to me very quickly, my interest in other routes was non-existent and the main story turned into a side quest. I wish I could say that is because this area is so good and it distracts from a good story, with interesting characters and plot lines, but that’s not the case.
The story is, like many areas of the game, shallow. Without spoiling the main story for you, it is forgettable, predictable and a lesson in how tell-not-show is boring. It does nothing new, you are a young trainer and face more or less the same challenges to become champion as you do in other games. That’s it for the story, It was just uninteresting. The search for the hero and two legendary Pokémon was painful to sit through, with Sonia turning up to just tell you what is going on, not allowing the playing to put the pieces together for themselves. It feels like the game wants to hold your hand throughout the entire adventure, not allowing you to discover things for yourself.
The one character that I felt had potential was Leo, I love his design and characteristics, he is a champion but is down to earth and just loves being around people and Pokémon. BUT, for some reason, his brother Hop and other characters keep mentioning that he is terrible with directions. BUT HE IS NOT! They never show this, you never have to find him when he’s lost, he’s always where he needs to be. Again, if this was an actual flaw within his character, show us. Don’t tell us! I understand the game is directed towards children… let’s face it, it is. But they’re not stupid, they can figure out if he is bad with directions when they have to find him themselves.
Hop is an interesting rival. Unlike the normal response in these games of: “Wow, you were lucky! Wait till next time” or, “I’m going to train harder and beat you!”, Hop shows a genuine flaw. His confidence is based on how well he does in battles, he doubts himself. Whilst, no one should doubt their abilities, it is a human trait and gives him a little more character. It’s nice to see some actual character in the people that inhabit the pokemon world.
Whilst many people hate the cuts from the game, one thing that I give Game Freak points for, is cutting the elite four. Not that I do not like the elite four, but in sun and moon it irritated me that it was built at the end of the game for you to beat. Instead, we have a league at the end of the game and gym battles that capture the intense competition within sports in the UK. The knockout rounds and the way that battles are held with gym leaders give a special feeling, you have the eyes of the world on you, as you become the champion. It’s something that no other Pokémon game has quite grasped for me, instead of just walking into a lifeless gym. You walk into a stadium full of excitement and passion, to show the world what you and your team can do.
Another aspect of the new games that impressed me was the music. Game Freak has upped the game and music brings so much life to the game. The battle music, route music and even the music within the gym battles all have become among my favourite the series have to offer.
The new Pokémon are actually good, some look weird, but I always have that feeling when a new generation comes in. They quickly find a place within my Pokémon loves and I can take them for what they are. When Pokémon first released the starters, I was 100 per cent #TeamSobble, but I have to say I was less than impressed with Intellion and have quickly turned to #TeamGrookey… I mean common Rillaboom looks awesome.
My team for beating the game was;
- Rapadash (Galarian)
With Togekiss being my Ace throughout the entirety of the game, without Pokémon being cut, I think I would have never used Togekiss. But I’m glad I have, she was a powerhouse and has earned a place with my favourite Pokémon.
Something I think pokemon has been missing for a while is discovery. Whilst yes, the wild zone is full of areas and Pokémon to discover, that’s not what I’m talking about. The game really lacks finding legendary or pseudo-legendary Pokémon in interesting ways. If you’ve played the older games, I would like you to think back; Remember the time you found Mewtwo and the legendary birds? Fighting through dungeons that were full of powerful Pokémon. Or the first time you found one of the legendary dogs or genie Pokémon? That’s what I missed in this game. Trying to figure out how you unlock the caves for each of the Regi’s and how to get through the Sky Tower to find Rayquazza in ruby/sapphire/emerald.
There is no personal discovery in these games, I remember, probably like yourself, the sense of pride I felt when I found one of these mysterious Pokémon. Regularly I would pester my parents showing them these powerful Pokémon I found, it was exciting and it is a missed feature in sword and shield. Instead Game Freak has opted to include the legendaries as static encounters through the main story or end game story.
Max raid battles feel exciting, but in my experience, you can never fill up all four slots to battle with people online, you have a world full of trainers but will normally get one person to help you. Also, joining max raid battles is irritating, they’re always started so you just waste time trying to join them. But this is something I am sure will improve as the game goes on, updates and events will surely fix that little problem.
That leaves me to question, what’s next? Will they focus on keeping the game alive with new Dynamax versions of pokemon? Events? Or will it just fall away after people beat the game the first time? What do you guys think?
Thanks for reading!