Sword and Shield, two step forwards, three steps back?
So, here we are, it’s been almost 5 months since Pokémon Sword and Shield came out. Based off of all the information we received in advance it seemed as if they were poised to revolutionize our beloved franchise but when the time came a lot of us were just met with disappointment. Since then there has been somewhat of a bounce back as far as overall satisfaction…but before we get there let’s take a moment and discuss what caused all of this backlash to begin with.
#bringbacknationaldex? Since the young age of 7, I as well as many fans of this incredible franchise have been sold on a promise. One that can only be described as simply as the old tagline “Gotta catch ‘em all”. Since red and green first hit the market in Japan in 1996 we have been told that we are meant to traverse the lands to capture every single monster we can get our hands on, and for those that are not in our game due to “version exclusives” we are meant to trade with our friends so we can complete that ever elusive Pokédex. Fast forward 13 years into the future after many games have come out, all with a larger and more diverse Pokédex than the last and Junichi Masuda informs us that for the first time in history that all of the Pokémon would not be in the next mainline games. This of course instantly was followed by a huge call for a boycott. “Don’t buy sword and shield, let’s show Game Freak that we won’t support their decisions” was the freedom cry of every random fan during that time and even some today swear by their decision to avoid purchasing. As we all know now it never really made a difference to Game Freak’s bottom line because the sales figures for Sword and Shield are, frankly quite impressive. But, is a short-changed Pokédex the only reason everyone originally was so concerned?
Graphics Despite the fact that underneath every single preview of gameplay footage that was released ahead of time for Sword and Shield there was a large disclaimer that said something to the tune of “Gameplay footage is not final. Final product is subject to change” it did nothing to prevent everyone and their mothers from analyzing the footage and coming to their own conclusion about how Game Freak just didn’t care anymore simply because the graphics were “horrible”. Now that we have the final product in our hands, in my honest opinion I don’t think it’s too bad. Yeah, it’s not the most beautiful game on the Switch but for the amount of time that GF had and this being their first real foray into something that could be described as more than “2-D/3-D” it seems pretty good to me. The main “problem” that most people had was the idea that GF had recycled models from the 3DS straight to the Switch and there was all kinds of various proof that was released to the public by others claiming to show once and for all that GF had duped us and they were just being lazy. I have no personal opinion on this because I think regardless of whether they did or not the Pokémon look better than ever thanks to the much higher processing power of the Switch hardware. Those are the two main reasons that a lot of people claimed sword and shield would be a flop. Now let’s discuss what GF have done since then to try and improve on these complaints.
Coming soon, to a console near you… Thankfully we do have a saving grace. By the end of June, we will receive the first of two expansions meant to build upon the backbone of the base games and go one step further. The Isle of Armor is going to be pretty awesome from what we’ve seen so far! It’s essentially another gigantic area that is going to be similar to the original Wild Area, with lots of new features, new clothing options, new characters, etc. There’s even a new legendary Pokémon that can be evolved in two different directions based off your decisions! Not to mention, yes, there is a wave of Pokémon that will be coming with it as well as some gigantamax forms of Pokémon we know and love like the new Gen 8 starters. Unfortunately, however, it isn’t all of them. Not even with the second expansion “The Crown Tundra” will we finally be able to complete our national Pokédex. From what we know so far, we should be getting around 200+. But that is just barely over half of what exists at this point. We barely know anything about the second expansion as of yet, but I’m sure more information will come out as we get closer to the “Fall 2020” release date. There have been small things that have come along as time as gone on as well to try and alleviate some of the concerns. That brings me to my last point.
Raid until you can’t anymore! One thing we can say about GF so far is that they’ve done a pretty decent job of making sure that the game at least tries to stay fresh. Every so often we receive an update to the raid battles that are featured in the game, and sometimes even with new Gigantamax forms! This keeps the game going and allows us a new objective every so often to try and go complete our collections of the next humongous Pokémon to hit raid dens. Personally I loved seeing all of the Gmax forms for the first time and it’s almost a nod to the now shuttered and much beloved (but also hated by many) Mega Evolution line. All in all, I think that now is one of the best times to be a Pokémon fan. Considering that all of the Pokémon even after the expansions have yet to be added back that leaves the door open for possibly more expansions in the future. Regardless of how you feel about these new main line games they have more than ever before brought new people into this incredible community and have also brought all of us together, especially during a time as trying as the state of the world these days. If you love the games, good for you, and I do too. But that doesn’t automatically mean that all of our grievances have been addressed. Nonetheless I will continue to enjoy them for the foreseeable future. Thank you for taking the time to read this, stay tuned for much more content in the future like this!