Pokémon Sword and Shield
"The best thing you can say about Pokémon Sword and Shield is that it's a Pokémon game. And the worst thing you can say about Pokémon Sword and Shield is that it's a Pokémon game."— Jim Sterling
Pokémon Sword and Shield are monster collecting RPGs developed by Game Freak and published by The Pokémon Company and Nintendo. They were released worldwide simultaneously on November 15, 2019, as the 29th and 30th games in the franchise's main continuity and as the first games for Generation VIII, and the second in the series to be released on a home console, the first being.
Pokémon Sword and Shield takes place in the Galar region, a region where Pokémon battling is so important that it's infused into the region's culture. In this region, the Pokémon League is based around a professional yearly competition where sponsored trainers battle Gym Leaders on massive stadiums in televised matches for the chance to battle the region's champion, Leon.
Victor/Gloria is a young resident and close friend of Hop, Leon's younger brother. The two are given sponsorship from Leon to participate in this year's league as well as a starter Pokémon. Right after becoming trainers however, the two are attacked by a mysterious wolf-like Pokémon that cannot be harmed before being rescued by Leon.
Victor/Gloria and Hop embark on a journey across the Galar region to complete in the Pokémon League, explore the secrets behind the Dynamaxing ability where Pokémon become temporarily extremely powerful and gigantic, and learn the truth behind the mysterious wolf Pokémon with the help of the regional professor's granddaughter Sonia. On their way, they also meet new rivals such as Bede, an arrogant trainer sponsored by the league's chairman Rose, and Marnie, a timid Punk girl who has an obnoxious obsessive fanbase calling themselves Team Yell that goes out of their way to sabotage other trainers participating in the league.
- Despite being the first generation on a home console, which provides more opportunities for additions and changes than a handheld system, the game does little to make any innovating changes to the same formula the series has used for 20+ years. This can be seen as Game Freak playing it too safe.
- For the first time in the series, not all existing Pokémon are available. While migration from previous Generations is still possible, only Pokémon existing in the initial in-game Pokédex or added via events or DLC expansions can be migrated.
- It was confirmed that this will continue to be the case for future games.
- In addition to the full Pokédex being unavailable, over a hundred moves (e.g. Hidden Power and Pursuit) are absent too while Mega Evolutions and Z Moves were replaced by Dynamaxing.
- Although the Wild Area provides a more open area for exploration, it only makes up a portion of the overall map while routes outside the Wild Area remain linear like in previous games.
- The camera can only be freely moved around in the Wild Area, while it remains at a fixed angle in areas outside the Wild Area.
- Speaking of map design, many routes, cities/towns, and dungeons are smaller than in previous games, which severely limits exploration.
- Because of Dungeons being less common in addition to being small and linear, this results in the Escape Rope, which is now a key item, being rather unnecessary.
- There are also less locations to explore compared to other regions.
- Many of the town/cities offer little to do to have players come back to them.
- Large sections of the Wild Area, as well as a bunch of areas outside the Wild Area can also feel rather empty, a problem plaguing most open-world games nowadays.
- Even though the story puts more focus on emphasizing the importance of the Pokémon League, it is still a predictable, bare-bones, and an overall low-stakes plot, especially when compared to the generation VII games.
- The plot revolving the Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta are, for the most part, an afterthought as most of the lore involving the Legendaries is relegated to a side-story in the main plot that has little impact on the main plot and a rather brief post-game campaign.
- When something interesting does happen in the story, the player will almost never witness the event, as they will have just missed it or simply get instructed to go to the next gym.
- The post-game story is a poorly written mess riddled with illogical moments.
- It is never explained how Sordward and Shielbert were able to forcefully Dynamax Pokémon.
- What does forcefully Dynamaxing Pokémon have anything to do with destroying Zacian and Zamazenta's legacy?
- The player had plenty of opportunities to easily stop Sordward and Shielbert, but never did so.
- It is unclear how Sordward and Shielbert gathered a large and fiercely loyal following, especially when they weren't mentioned once prior to their introduction, and none of the major characters had any clue who they were.
- Although the graphics are better than in any other core-series Pokémon game, they are sub-par by Switch standards, with a bunch of textures looking no better than that of a GameCube game.
- The render distance is poor as NPCs and Pokémon will pop in out of thin air when you get close to them.
- This gives players little time to react should an NPC or Pokémon pop-up in front of them, which can cause accidental battles if the player runs into the latter.
- The game still has occasional framerate drops, though not as frequent as the 3DS games. This is most noticeable when other players are in the Wild Area.
- Weather transitions in the Wild Area look poor, with the weather changing within a few seconds, including the area the player was just at. This makes it look like the surrounding areas also have the same weather condition when they don't.
- False advertising: The models for the returning Pokémon are simply up-scaled versions of their 3DS models, despite Game Freak stating the models used for this game were made from scratch.
- The render distance is poor as NPCs and Pokémon will pop in out of thin air when you get close to them.
- A severe lack of difficulty, even more so than AGW.
- Trainers are less common than in previous games, and they they do appear, they usually have no more than two Pokémon.
- The EXP Share is mandatory again. While this does reduce grinding, it can easily make your Pokémon over-leveled if you train too much.
- The lack of difficulty can render some activities pointless such as the Pokémon Camp.
- The second half of the gym challenges also suffer from this (except for the sixth gym), as they are just simply fighting one trainer after another with no other challenges to overcome.
- The animations have hardly improved from past 3D Pokémon games and still feel stiff, with a lot of animations from the 3DS games having been reused (although some of the new moves are animated nicely such as the new signature moves).
- For the Pokémon, the animations used in the Campsite feature were also reused from Pokémon Amie and Refresh from the Generations VI and VII games (including the walking and running animation that went unused in the data of the Generation VII games).
- When a Dynamaxed/Gigantamaxed Pokémon is attacked by a normal size Pokémon, it shows a splash-like attack animation instead of the normal attack animation.
- In addition to reused animations, a lot of sound effects are reused from older games, including a few that were used in the first generation, which directly clashes with the game's HD 3D style.
- While it is an improvement from the Festival Plaza in the generation VII games, the Y-comm isn't that great and has several issues.
- Players are unable to send invitations to each other, they instead have to search for them in the stamps, which can be a pain.
- Because of the lack of invitations, the best way to get someone specific to join your session is complicated. The player will have to set up a passcode and then message the player outside of the game due to being unable to message them in-game.
- There is now a timer during online battles, which can encourage players deliberately stall in order to gain a cheap victory.
- Like several other Nintendo games, online functionality has several issues such as lagging servers, trouble connecting to servers, or getting disconnected suddenly from the servers.
- This makes looking for stamps more difficult than it already is, with refreshing usually not solving the issue.
- Doing Max Raid Battles without other players is frustrating as the Raid Pokémon often bring up shields that need to be attacked multiple times to break and the AI teammates tend to be uncooperative and often die in one hit.
- To make matters worse, once the Raid Pokémon's health reaches a certain point, they will not lose any more health so they can use the shield, unnecessarily drawing out an otherwise short battle. This is a case of artificial difficulty.
- Even with other players, Max Raid Battles still have their share of issues. If you successfully defeat a Dynamaxed/Gigantamaxed Pokémon, you only have one chance to successfully catch it regardless of how many stars the MRB was. This decision would have been understandable for one to two-star battles, but it is unreasonable for the rest of the levels. This stipulation also makes it easy to lose out on a shiny Pokémon should the Dynamaxed/Gigantamaxed Pokémon be shiny.
- Similarly to the opening hours in Sun and Moon, the player will get constantly interrupted by other characters throughout the game, most of who either state the obvious or tell you information that you'll likely already know.
- Numerous problems with the characters.
- Throughout the story, many of characters have a tendency to constantly remind the player that Leon is the "unbeatable" champion, which gets old rather fast.
- Hop has no characteristics that make him stand out from other rivals. He is also the worst offender of interrupting the player as mentioned above.
- Although well-written characters, both Bede and Marnie are underutilized in favor of Hop, resulting in them having little impact on most of the plot.
- Team Yell is far too similar to Team Skull, as both teams are composed of hooligans who serve more as comic relief than they do an actual threat to the player. They both also have no serious goals other than to obscure trainers in their respective Region's challenges.
- Chairman Rose's goal doesn't make much sense, as he want's to fix an energy crisis that will not happen until about a thousand years in the future. The revelation of him being the main antagonist also had no build-up whatsoever unlike Lusamine, making his role as an antagonist feel forced.
- The post-game antagonists, Sordward and Shielbert, are two of the the worst villains in the franchise. They are incredibly obnoxious in a bad way, and their goals are even more vague and nonsensical than Chairman Rose's.
- Their designs are also very poor, especially for Sordward, whose hairstyle (which is supposed to be shaped like a sword) looks rather phallic.
- Very little post-game content, even for Pokémon standards. The only noteworthy post-game content is a short epilogue story-line, the Battle Tower, and rematches at the Pokémon League, all three of which are common post-game content in the series.
- The GTS was removed, which makes looking for a specific Pokémon a player wants to obtain significantly more difficult unless they have the mobile version of Pokémon HOME.
- The game is arguably shorter than other games in the franchise, as the game can be completed within around 40 hours while the older games usually took 50+ hours.
- Although having no voice acting isn't necessarily a bad quality, some cutscenes in the game were designed for voice acting, such as the infamous scene with Piers singing, this results in those cutscenes being awkward to watch. While this problem is present in some of the older games, it is ignorable as those type of cutscenes were less common, and had less dialogue.
- Players are unable to catch over-leveled Pokémon in the Wild Area, which is a pointless restriction because even if the player does catch the over-leveled Pokémon, they wouldn't obey the player due to a lack of badges.
- Story progression remains linear. While this is in previous games, the fact that the player can fight over-leveled Pokémon early on gives little to no reason for players to be unable to explore over-leveled areas outside the Wild Area earlier than they're supposed to.
- Unlike the Let's Go games, Repels have no effect on overworld Pokémon. This, along with the fact that random encounters are now much easier to avoid, makes them almost completely useless.
- With the missing features, the game feels overpriced, costing $60 while the older games with arguably more content costed $40 at most.
- Due to all of these problems, along with the facts that Pokémon is still a yearly series and Game Freak was also developing Little Town Hero while developing this game, the game feels rushed.
- The game introduces the Galar Region, which is based on Great Britain.
- The concept of regional variants introduced in Sun and Moon is expanded, now it is no longer restricted to Generation I Pokémon and Galarian variants can even take completely new evolutions not available to the regular forms.
- Despite the outdated looking graphics, many areas are still decently detailed and good looking.
- Several concepts introduced in the spinoff games Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! have been introduced into the main series. Some examples include:
- The ability to manage your team anywhere you want via the pause menu rather than having to return to a Pokémon Center to use a storage box.
- Wild Pokémon are visible in the overworld, allowing you to pick which Pokémon you want to battle. At the same time however traditional tall grass encounters are still available.
- Pokéball Plus is also compatible with these games, meaning that Mew can also be obtained, although you can't use it as a controller here.
- If your Nintendo Switch has a save file data for either Let's Go, Pikachu! or Let's Go, Eevee! or both, you can get a special Pikachu or an Eevee that have Gigantamax forms.
- The process of raising Pokémon is streamlined to be less reliant on grinding and RNG with the addition of EXP. Candies and mints. The former allows Pokémon to be up-to-level with your current team easier than before, while the latter allows the player to change their Pokémon's natures to a better one.
- You can now have 2 Pokémon of the same species gain new Egg moves after breeding, something that only their children can do in previous Generations.
- The new Dynamaxing mechanic allows players to make their Pokemon gigantic and significantly more powerful in a similar fashion to Mega Evolutions. However, unlike Mega Evolutions, every Pokemon can be Dynamaxed and the transformation only lasts for 3 turns to balance it out. When Dynamaxed, Pokemon have their HP increased up to double the base HP and their Moves become stronger "Max Moves" that also activate secondary effects.
- Certain Pokemon get special "Gigantamax" forms when they are Dynamaxed. These forms have access to "G-Max" moves.
- During the main story mode, Dynamaxing can only be done during specific battles to prevent the player from abusing it against regular opponents who themselves can't Dynamax.
- The Wild Area offers for the first time a more open-world experience, allowing the player to freely move the camera around. The player can also encounter over-leveled and fully evolved Pokémon in the area, which is another first in the franchise.
- Players can participate in Max Raid Battles which are scattered throughout the Wild Area, where the player and three other trainers, whether they are NPCs or other players, work together to battle Dynamaxed Pokémon which are drastically more powerful than any other wild Pokémon and give out useful items as rewards for defeating them.
- When doing a Max Raid Battles with other players, everyone gets a chance to catch the Dynamax Pokémon.
- The Wild Area also introduces Watts as a new currency which can be used to obtain valuable items, upgrade the player's bicycle or buy curry ingredients.
- The Wild Area allowing you to catch fully Evolved Pokémon that would normally be difficult to evolve and even including Trade evolutions also facilitates the process.
- The story puts more emphasis on the Pokémon League and the Gym Challenge, treating it as a competitive sports event and making it so the player has a more tangible reason to compete in the league similar to the anime while also being reminiscent of professional soccer as gym battles take place in large stadiums.
- Most Gym challenges are reworked to be much more creative than previous gym challenges.
- The Elite 4 is replaced with the Championship Cup, which has the player battle their main rivals throughout the story in final matches before facing the champion. In revisits, the player can then choose which opponents will participate in the cup.
- A great soundtrack that has more variety (including styles unique to this game) compared to any other previous generation while also fitting the theme of the Galar region. Some of the more notable examples include the Gym Leader battle theme or the northern half of the Wild Area.
- One of the songs in the game was composed by Toby Fox, the creator of and . This, again, symbolizes the series going more worldwide.
- You can now finally skip cutscenes and tutorials if you've already played the game and want to do another playthrough.
- Technical Records (TR) are introduced, which are one-time use move tutors similar to TMs before Gen V, however unlike older TMs these can be found again infinitely by doing Max Raid Battles and often have better moves than TMs to compensate.
- Leon, Sonia, and the side characters such as the Ball Guy and the gym leaders (especially Piers), who now have more personality, are likable.
- The camping mechanic replaces Pokémon Amie/Refresh as a more interactive way to build your Pokémon's friendliness values while also restore their health and PP. In the process, your Pokémon will be very happy and be more willing to listen to you.
- Additionally, certain Pokémon have specific reactions when you play with them using a bell teaser or a rubber ball, which can be both charming and funny, or when they interact with other Pokémon present in the camping area.
- Despite the Y-comm system not being that good, one good feature about it is that players are able to search for players to do Link Trades, Random Trades, or Battles without interrupting normal gameplay.
- Instead of releasing an enhanced version like previous Generations, Sword and Shield instead received expansion DLC including new areas of the map with exclusive stories, new Pokémon, new regional variants, and previously unavailable Pokémon.
- The new Pokémon added to the game can then be traded to the base version of the game without needing to buy the DLC.
- A couple of nice additions to the shiny animations, with there now being a new sparkling animation with squares that's rarer than the normal one with stars.
- Shiny Pokémon that hatched from eggs now have the sparkling animation displayed. This can especially prove useful for shiny Pokémon that barely look any different.
- The Isle of Armor (and most likely the Crown Tundra when it releases) is an improvement over the base game, and fixes several issues with the base game.
- When doing trade evolutions online, you should make sure to trade for another copy of the same Pokémon as there's no guarantee that the other player will return you the traded Pokémon.
- If you plan on completing the Curry Dex, you may optionally ask the trader if the pokémon they are about to trade is holding the Bob's/Bach's food tin as those ingredient are only obtainable in either versions of the games.
- An easy way to make money is to buy Luxury Balls in the Wild Area for 100 Watts each then sell all of them in a store. Farming Watts is a very easy process so you'll be able to get lots of Luxury Balls quickly.
- Make sure you take some time to do Max Raid Battles during the early game, as lower ranking Raids don't get shields making them easy to defeat and you'll still get the useful rewards, mainly the EXP Candies and TRs.
- Certain Pokémon only spawn in the Wild Area during specific weathers, you can manipulate the date in your Nintendo Switch to force a certain weather to occur so you can hunt what you want without having to wait. You can look up online lists for which specific date to set for which weather condition, and which Pokémon spawn during those weather conditions.
- Keep in mind this will freeze daily events for 24 hours.
- A very easy method to evolve Galarian Farfetch'd into Sirftech'd is to battle a Wobbuffet, which are found in the same route where you can catch Farfetch'd as an overworld spawn. Continuously attack Wobbuffet with Rock Smash, it'll do very little damage so you'll have many turns to land those 3 Critical Hits and the low damage per attack makes it so Wobbuffet's Counter won't faint your Farfetch'd.
- The Leek held item, the move Focus Energy, and using a Dire Hit all increase Farfetch'd chances of landing a Critical Hit, making the process significantly easier. Wild Farfetch'd have a 50% chance to be holding a Leek when caught.
- Make sure you have healing items for each time Wobbuffet uses Counter.
Prior to release, Pokémon Sword and Shield received widespread criticism after Game Freak announced that not all existing Pokémon would be available in the games, causing the controversy known as "Bring Back National Dex" or "Dexit".
Despite mostly positive review from critics, Pokémon Sword and Shield has been criticized by most fans and some critics, with many considering the games to be the weakest in the core series of Pokémon games. While both versions have a critic score of 80/100, the user score is much lower, having a score of 4.6/10 for Pokémon Sword and a 4.5/10 for Pokémon Shield.
Despite the criticism, the games have sold very well, selling more than 6 million copies worldwide during its opening week, surpassing  By the end of 2019, the games have sold more than 16 million copies worldwide.as the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game.
- Since the Galar region is based on Great Britian, the new Pokémon introduced in this game often take cues from UK culture, some examples include:
- The starters Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble represent music, sports, and drama respectively.
- Galarian Ponyta and Rapidash are based on unicorns.
- The new Fossil Pokémon are based on the fact that UK archaeologists would often unknowingly mismatch bones from different fossils to make up skeletons.
- Galarian Mr. Mime's evolution Mr. Rime resembles the famous British comedian Charlie Chaplin.
- The Legendaries Zacian and Zamazenta take inspiration from the myths of the sword Excalibur and the shield Prydwen respectively.
- The trees found in the Wild Area slightly resemble London plane trees.
- Zacian, Zamazenta, and Zarude's names mean "the Cyan One", "the Magenta One", and "the Rude One" respectively.