As someone who has played Pokemon their whole life and has beaten every mainline game, it has been a dream of mine to play a Pokemon game on a console, rather than a handheld device.
Even though “Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness” and “Pokemon Stadium” games were on a console, it wasn’t the experience I wanted. “Sword and Shield” brought my dreams to life.
As I traveled through the breathtaking Galar region, discovering brand new towns and Pokemon, all I thought to myself was “9-year-old me would be so jealous right now.”
There are very few things that make me extremely happy, and playing “Sword and Shield” is one of them.
For the very first Pokemon mainline game on the Nintendo Switch, Game Freak delivered an astonishing game. I spent over 40 hours playing and most of the time I was just exploring the Wild Area.
The Wild Area is a brand new open world space where players are free to explore vast lands, lakes, deserts and islands with old and new Pokemon roaming about. This has never been done before in any other Pokemon game. The Wild Area has an abundant amount of Pokemon walking around. Some Pokemon would run away from the player, while others chase the player to battle. This brought something new to the table and made the game feel realistic.
The Wild Area introduced Max Raid Battles where a player can team up with others online or with non-player characters (NPCs) to battle a giant Pokemon called Dynamax, or they can find rare, giant form-changing Pokemon called Gigantamax.
These raid battles are extremely difficult, as my friends and I had to think of strategies to be successful. After beating the Pokemon, the player has a chance to catch it. However, unlike regular battles, the player only has one chance of catching the Pokemon, which made it even more stressful. These raid battles are my favorite part of the game besides discovering brand new Pokemon.
As I walked through grassy terrains, snowy mountains and eerie forests, I discovered brand new Pokemon. The Pokemon designs are by far my favorite Pokemon designs since the previous game “X and Y.” I had a very hard time deciding what Pokemon to have in my team since the player can only have six Pokemon.
Some Pokemon that I cherished were Sinistea, a tea cup Pokemon haunted by a ghost that evolves into a teapot called Polteageist. Another favorite of mine was Flapple, a grass dragon-type Pokemon based on an apple with a worm inside of it. The designs in this region were quirky and I quickly fell in love with my Pokemon as I watched them grow, evolve and become stronger.
“Sword and Shield” also brought back the Pokemon Gyms that weren’t in the last Pokemon games “Sun and Moon.” These new gyms brought a fresh new style to the old gym formula from the original games. In order for the player to earn their gym badge, one must complete the tough gym challenge, battle trainers and defeat the gym leader.
The gyms felt more alive than those from previous games. A huge crowd cheers and screams with excitement as the player battles the gym leader and has a Dynamax battle in a stadium. When I challenged the first gym leader, I got chills as I heard the audience cheer my team to victory. With the level of excitement and the extraordinary music, these new gyms made the game feel like I was in the Pokemon anime.
Even though “Sword and Shield” has amazing gameplay, it lacks a compelling story. The story in this game is bland, and nothing exciting happens until the end of the game when the player can battle against the legendary Pokemon. It makes me miss when Pokemon games included evil teams in the story in past games.
In this region there is Team Yell, a group of trainers who are fans of your rival, Marnie, and would do anything in order for her to become the next Pokemon champion. However, Team Yell doesn’t feel like an evil team. They are less than a threat than Team Skull from the previous Alola region from “Sun and Moon.” The player doesn’t get introduced to the real antagonists of the game until the near end, which is disappointing.
Even though “Pokemon Sword and Shield” was not my favorite game in the series, it still holds a special place in my heart. With the new gameplay mechanics, new Pokemon and the beautiful region inspired by the United Kingdom, “Sword and Shield” manages to be a dynamic new addition to the franchise. Yes, it did lack an immersive story. Fortunately, the Wild Area, trainer customization, new Pokemon, the return of a jerk rival and challenging Pokemon battles make up for it.
“Pokemon Sword and Shield” receives a score of nine out of 10.