It’s a great game, if you’ve played any of the classic games but haven’t played a newer title, then Sword and Shield is easily the best generation to get back into the series.
The main thing that was stopping me from initially buying the game was because I remember seeing so much negativity around the release, mainly that these games don’t have the “full” National Pokédex (which would be 898 true Pokémon, not including alternate forms, Mega Evolutions, etc), instead, the only Pokémon you can get in the game are the ones native to the U.K. themed Galar Region and the ones brought through the game’s DLC expansion pass.
The reason this was such a big deal at the time was because in every main game up until this point, you could transfer your Pokémon from the previous generations of games, but if your favorite Pokémon was one of the ones Game Freak left behind then you’re out of luck. So if you wanted (and if you had every generation of games), you could transfer your Charizard from Pokémon Red (1999) on the Gameboy all the way up to Pokémon Ultra Sun (2017) on the 3DS. It’s understandable enough, having to wrestle with such a huge number of characters is very scary from a development perspective, and we don’t know what kind of process they use to make these games so it would be silly to assume you know more than Game Freak on this issue. This leads us onto the second reason fans were angry at the game, the “graphics”.
One of the reason that GF (Game Freak) decided to cut the National Pokédex was to focus on making Sword/Shield more graphically detailed, since this is the first time that a main series Pokémon game has been on a ““home console”” (Nintendo Switch isn’t entirely a home console, it’s technically a hybrid since it is also portable). Pretty much all I saw when the game released was images of the games “Wild Area”, and area in the middle of the game map where there is a huge assortment of wild Pokémon. The Wild Area is easily the least impressive looking place in the game to say the least, but even then most of the time it looks decent!
The first part of the Wild Area
But man this game is actually really graphically impressive for a game who’s developers have been bottlenecked by 3DS hardware for the last 10 years.
Your home in the game, one of the opening areas
Ballonlea, a fairy themed town
So yeah, this game looks pretty damn good, it’s stylised in a very nice way where it doesn’t need to rely too heavily on sheer detail, it uses light really well in general, and it uses colour extremely well! I personally think “fans” were just shitting on the game’s worst part because it was the new game, similar to how “fans” of Star Wars will shit on the new films simply because they are Star Wars films, a la The Force Awakens.
The new Pokémon from this generation are great too for the most part, Polteageist and Sinistea are adorable, the new starters are great, Applin and it’s evolutions are a fantastic surprise, and the box legendaries are really freaking cool!!
Image of the new ‘mons
Also the new Gym leaders all have unique and memorable designs, unlike many of the ones in previous games, honestly the only ones I really remember are some of the ones from the original series because they were in the TV show when I watched that as a kid…
And honestly, the story again has a bigger presence than in previous games, which can be a positive in some ways, since if you just want to play through the story then you’re in luck, it feels more cinematic since it has better cut-scenes and, well, more presence, but if you want to do something else, like catch a specific Pokémon, the story can get in your way since it is so linear. Honestly I wish Pokémon would make their mainline games more Breath of the Wild-y, since I think that kind of gameplay style would suit the series well, in general Pokémon games put a focus on the places and locations and the historical significance of them in that place’s culture, and I just think it would be neat to see that kind of “systems” based gameplay in a Pokémon game than the linear story that they’ve had since 2004. (with that said everyone is trying to copy BoTW and failing so it’s fair enough that they may want to stick to what they know)
Also the Dynamax and Gigantamax gimmick is pretty fucking cool too. I love that any Pokémon can Dynamax but only some can actually change form to Gigantamax,
That’s where this hyper-fixation started, I bought Sword to play with my boyfriend, and to celebrate I thought I might try to get him a shiny Eevee from the previous game to transfer over to the new game. Shiny Pokémon are rare alternate coloured Pokémon, in the wild you have 1/4096 chance of encountering one, but there are various things you can do to make your odds better. In the end it took me just over 9 hours in one sitting to get a shiny Eevee for him. I think that broke my brain. Now all I can think about is Pokémon.
From that point I finally finished Pokémon Moon, which was pretty good would recommend.
Then, I don’t remember why, but I bought some Pokémon Trading Card booster packs. It’s such a high its crazy.
We ended up getting some cards we wanted and some cards we didn’t, but man opening the packs is addictive as fuck. Honestly don’t know how they’re able to get away with what’s basically gambling with all the odds stacked against you. On the other hand though, the art on some of these cards is freaking great! As physical products they’re really really nice! Especially the “full art” cards that feature alternate art covering the entire card.
The physical nature of all of the holographic cards is really nice too, it really makes you feel like you’ve got the “golden ticket” when you pull one from a pack!
And then I actually got into the card game itself, which is honestly a really interesting game. I’m sure it’s nowhere near as complex as other card games around, but as my first dive into them, it’s a pretty fun system! It’s interesting because I’ve always had Pokémon cards, but I’ve never played the game itself until now (I’ve also never even seen anyone play the card game until now). I guess they’re just something that everyone had when they were a kid.
Scalpers and price gougers are getting on my nerves recently though, especially in relation to Pokémon and tech. In the last few months there have so many cool tech releases, NVidia released their 3000 series GPUs, AMD released their 6000 series GPUs and their 5000 series CPUs, Xbox released their Series consoles and Sony released their Playstation 5 consoles, and almost every single one of those releases have been ruined by the sheer demand. But probably not, surely these companies know how many units they would normally sell and therefore know how many to have on launch hence supply shouldn’t be the issue here, so the shortage of products clearly due to a massive surge in demand. And that leads to scalpers, people who buy up a fuck ton of stuff that’s currently scarce and jack up the prices to an absurd amount. So the only people who are able to get their hands on the new stuff are the ones who are willing to pay 10x RRP. Disgusting.
It seems that the same has also unfortunately been happening in the world of trading card games. Just last week a new set of Pokémon cards was released, Vivid Voltage, featuring new “Amazing Rare” cards which have a pigment-y rainbow background with an interesting attack set with odd energy types.
This set was released basically the other day and already the prices are kind of ridiculous.
Although to be fair if you want to play the Pokémon Trading Card Game competitively in general it is a very expensive hobby, £50 is considered a cheap deck of 60 cards. An expensive one is probably somewhere in the thousands.
Also shiny Pokémon in general are just cool, Wooloo, one of the new Galar Pokémon is basically just a white sheep, but it’s rare shiny colouring makes them a black sheep! Crazy! Also another new Pokémon is called Skwovet, normally a grey squirrel, but his shiny is a red one! That’s what I was waiting for baby!!!!!
Speaking of shinies and of cards though, there’s one set of cards that has a bunch of holographic cards with the alternate “shiny” colourings called Hidden Fates. ONE PACK (10 cards, one of which is an energy) OF THIS SET COSTS £10, WHEN YOU COULD NEVER GET £10 WORTH OF CARDS OUT OF IT. I THINK THAT THE £3 PACKS ARE FUCKING EXPENSIVE HOLY SHIT MAN
They do look nice though…