Kesner's Proper Review of Pokemon Sword and Shield
Note: The review bombs on Metacritic got Kesner so frothing mad that he had to make an actual review that isn't fueled by anger towards Game Freak and isn't from a crappy source like IGN.
Pokemon Sword and Shield is the first game of a new Pokemon generation, VIII. Being the start of a new generation, what does it bring to the franchise, nor how does it open doors for new opportunities? Let's find out.
Exploring the Galar Region
Something I love about region exploration compared to the previous games in the series is the new "Wild Area" where the protagonist is free to explore a vast landscape filled with many different Pokemon specimens. The weather will also constantly change depending on where the protagonist is standing in the area, the weather will also determine the different types of Pokemon that you will encounter in the tall grass. For example, if it is hailing, you will find Ice Type Pokemon, or if it is raining, you will find Water Type Pokemon. (My advice is that if you want to make sure you are one step ahead of those gym leaders, keep your eyes peeled for the weather!)
Your Pokemon and You
Every new game in the series brings more and more ways for you and your Pokemon to build a strong and loving relationship. What about this game?
Although this feature isn't unlocked after you finish the game, you may feed your Pokemon mints to help them change their mood towards you or their opponents. If you payed close attention to your Pokemon during battles, you would see they feel like doing certain actions. For example "X wants to sleep" means they feel lazy, if you wanted to change that then you could feed them some of the mints.
Similar to the anime, you can cook and feed your Pokemon. What is cooking you may ask? Why curry of course! It doesn't just go on rice. If you cook with other people that you find at camps along the game's routes, you can make pasta, salad and more. Make sure you have lots of berries as they will determine the outcome of the curry's flavor. There is also a "Curry Dex" if you and your Pokemon enjoyed a certain flavor, as long as you have the same types of berries. There are also special ingredients, so be on the look out for those!
What's Changed About Pokemon Battles?
While the game is sadly missing Mega Evolution and Z-Moves that were in previous games, Sword and Shield has a new "Gigantamax" feature where your Pokemon will grow several stories tall. Their HP and attack will also be temporarily increased drastically. The buff doesn't last very long though, only 3 turns. Make sure that if you absolutely have to use Gigantamax it is at the right time. The new animations and atmosphere during the Gigantamax battles and attacks also make the battles feel more intense, which is exactly what I want during a battle.
While still not perfect or a huge improvement, various moves now have more gimmicks and animations, making the Pokemon feel more alive whenever they execute a certain move, such as Cinderace's Pyro Ball.
The Pokemon League
Gym battles return, which get's rid of the trials from Sun and Moon. Unlike previous games where you simply walk into a gym and take on several trainers that use a certain type of Pokemon while solving puzzles and then the leader, this feels more like the anime where the Pokemon League is a competition rather than just fighting the Elite Four and the Champion. It has a roaring stadium filled with a cheering crowd and all that good stuff. You will also wear an outfit with a number on the back, again making it feel like a competition with a sports esque outfit.
Like usual, you need to beat 8 gym leaders in order to be able to make it to finals. Make sure you train hard.
Good and Bad Features
- Beautiful and colorful visuals.
- New regional exploration.
- Decent soundtrack.
- Tons of great new Pokemon.
- Improved Poke Amie.
- Nods to the anime.
- Some emotional and/or exciting moments.
- Barely improved animations.
- Cut Pokedex and no National Dex (though it never really bothered me).
- Team Yell is arguably the worst team in the entire franchise. They don't even pose a real threat compared to the previous teams.
- Takes a while to get to the serious part of the game.
- Unlike previous games, you don't catch the Legendary until after you beat the champion.
- No Elite Four (which is damn shame because it's the best part of the near End Game imo).
- Forced EXP share.
- Despite the Gigantamax moves all being the same depending on the type, they will not do the same amount of damage. For example, if you Gigantamaxed a Grass Type Pokemon that knew Razor Leaf and Leaf Tornado, the slot that originally had Leaf Tornado will do more damage.
- Bonding with Pokemon is important for battles! If you develop a close enough relationship through Curry and other methods, your Pokemon may just endure an otherwise fatal attack.
- The giant Pokemon that appear out of the grass in the Wild Area are very strong and over leveled (depending on where you are) compared to you. Make sure you come back once you have enough badges if you want to catch them!
Though the game doesn't exactly live up to its predecessors, it is a decent take on the franchise and could be seen as a good start to a new generation. If you are looking for a more care free take on the Pokemon franchise, then this game is for you.