Pokemon Sword and Shield are great games for the Nintendo Switch. There’s a lot to unpack in this game, so rather than describing everything, let me share my thoughts for them one-by-one. Careful, heavy spoilers for the entire game.
My earliest memory of Pokemon is playing Pokemon Crystal with Cyndaquil as my starter. It got me hooked and I’ve purchased almost every Pokemon Title that came after that. I didn’t get the chance to play the previous generations since I’m already familiar just by watching anime. I really loved Pokemon Emerald and Fire Red that I can safely say that they are the best for me.
Pokemon Sword (I’ll be referencing both, but it’s the only title that I bought), had a lot to live up to. The new generation of Pokemon has been highly anticipated with the generation of being the first title to ever grace the console world is pretty exciting. And with me being a long-time Pokemon fan, I had a lot of expectations.
Yes, there are only four hundred Pokemon in this game and no, I don’t care. I know some of the readers will be offended by that, but I have my own reasons. With me playing a lot of Pokemon games, I didn’t really care about trading with other generations. I just tend to focus on completing the current Pokedex and catching rare Pokemon that are found in the game itself.
Now, on to all the things that I like, didn’t like, and didn’t really care much about.
Auto-running: Having the freedom of not holding on to the B button to run is a quality life change that should have been implemented in earlier titles. It was so convenient that I honestly took it for granted.
Pokemon Designs: It may be a given, but the Pokemon designs are awesome. Pokemon like Yamper, Scorbunny, and Galar Ponyta are a sight to see. They feel much more consistent with the Galar environment and the feel of the game itself.
Dynamx and Gigantamax: While I really did like Mega Evolutions, these new mechanics are a welcome replacement. I didn’t feel gimmicky at all and the challenge of having it for only three turns will make you think carefully. It’s limited turns make it feel important and balanced. I dig the integration of it will all the gym leaders, it was a thrill of a ride.
Gym Challenge: speaking of Pokemon gyms, I appreciate the old-school format and a few minor tweaks to make it more refreshing. It felt immersive albeit short and the game has you fight against much tougher leaders compared to past titles.
Wild Area: Arguably the most important part of the game. I really love the idea of an open-world game and the developers’ implementation is fantastic. A vast, expansive wilderness in which I can roam freely, catch whatever Pokemon, meet a level 60 Pokemon while my team’s around 15? Count me in. This is exactly the kind of mechanic I expect when Pokemon moves to the console world. There are some performance issues here and there, but I didn’t really care much about the downside — I’m sure it will be improved on the next run.
Galar Region: Although it felt somewhat smaller than previous regions, Galar is excellently designed. The overworld feels expansive and the towns are big and wonderfully made.
Quality of life changes: I loved the autosave and the fact that it’s optional makes it good for everyone. The move reminder, deleter, and name rater are all conveniently rolled into one man standing behind the counter on the left side of every Pokemon Center means it’s accessible and you won’t have to travel far away. You can call a Flying Taxi anytime and you won’t have to teach your Pokemon to fly just to transport you. The bicycle acted as both land and water transportation, which means bye Surf! The Pokedex gives you recommendations on where and when you can catch a certain Pokemon.
Story: The story is mediocre. It works but it felt too straightforward and the game spoon-fed you all the way. It’s not the best Pokemon story out there but at least it was interesting enough that it didn’t really hinder my gameplay.
Balance: The difficulty level for Pokemon Sword and Shield is on the easy side but provided a fair challenge towards the end.
Performance: With the title being implemented to the Switch, not everything is smooth, especially in the Wild Area. If this was implemented to a more powerful console like PS4 and Xbox One, you won’t any problems at all.
Visuals: Graphics were hit and miss, as were animations. It’s not the best-looking switch game (Breath of the Wild still takes the cake), but other areas are gorgeous to look at.
Hop: Out of all the characters in the game, this one stood out the most — and not in a good way. His Pokemon will always be weaker than mine, and the fact that there’s no challenge is a disappointment. He was really loud to the point that it was annoying.
Team Yell: It was a nice concept at first but it fell flat towards the end when you realize that they didn’t really do much. It was really confusing on why they were in the game. They were just a bunch of harmless, over-enthusiastic fans.
Overall, I would say Pokemon Sword lived up to my expectations and surpassed a lot of Pokemon titles. With the new mechanics and revised gameplay, it’s a good way to start the franchise through a new platform.