Pokémon Sword and Shield has made a leap in games for Pokémon in many ways, the graphics, style of play, features we've never seen before but unfortunately the lack of a national Pokédex were the only words on a lot of fans lips before the release.
Now with DLC, we're getting the majority of Pokémon fans so desperately needed, so can we finally take a look at this game for what it is? A new entry in the saga, introducing new ideas like the wild area, puzzles in each gym and more; so why not take a look with me..?
If you've played any of the other Pokémon main title games, you come to expect a certain standard and play style. For the most part, they're limited by the system they were on, all of them appearing on some variation of Gameboy or DS.
Now it's got the power of the Nintendo Switch behind it Game Freak are able to do a little more, and with the testing of Let's Go Eevee and Pikachu, they had some idea what people liked and what they didn't.
Wild, Wild West
Hands down, there lightbulb moment would be the wild area, with players not only be able to interact in a MMO style area, catch gigantic dynamax Pokémon in raids and find rarer Pokémon such as Tyranitar just walking around; this place encapsulates what you would expect a Pokémon game to be when you were younger.
This also allowed us one of our first introductions into dynamaxing, and even gmaxing if you were lucky. In which, you could find a Pokémon hidden in a cave, and have to raid it with friends. Not only an interesting mechanic, but one that meant for the first time Pokémon was truly co-op.
Considering this is a main stay of Pokémon, example Ash travelling with friends in the anime, it has been a long, long time coming.
What is a Gym?
Gyms were all upgraded to involve some kind of puzzle, which is not something new, but it does seem a lot more effort was put into them. For example, Milo's Turffield battle involves us herding sheep, compared to someone like Koga in the original, who just had invisible walls. (No shade on Koga, probably my favourite gym leader of all time!)
I can't just talk about the positives, as great as the gyms are, and as much as I do feel they've improved in a lot of areas Pokémon Sword and Shield suffered from the same problems as Let's Go Eevee and Pikachu; they're just too easy.
At no point do you feel challenged other than wild area raids, the story just offers no challenge. If you cast your mind back to the older titles, parts do stick out as challenging. In the original Giovanni and the Elite Four weren't a push over, and there was a Team Rocket grunt that had the world’s most powerful Raticate apparently.
Pokemon Gold and Silver had the infamous Whitney and her Miltank, there was just no equivalent in this title and it missed that sorely. There was no need for tactics and levelling up was far too simple (with the aid of candy).
Location, Location, Location!
We ended up with a United Kingdom based location in Galar. Now, being based in the UK I couldn't have been happier about this, being able to draw similarities to places around the UK to a game I'm playing is a weird sensation, but one I enjoy. Which does play into the reason I'm so excited to try upcoming games like Watch Dogs: Legion and Assassins Creed: Valhalla.
The locations in Pokémon Sword and Shield I would say are some of the higher points of the games honestly, they're believable and have lots of life to them. We got the smaller characters and dialogue as we would in any Pokémon game and even found the infamous Ghost Girl of Galar, amongst other mysteries such as the Turffield Giant.
Spoiler Warning Ahead
The story is back and forth for me. We have moments of brilliance like the Dynamax Pokemon towards the end, shooting up all over Galar and it linking into the origins of Eternus, Zacian and Zamazenta. But then it goes on for too long, we're running around the map doing the same thing over and over, and meet ridiculous characters like Sordward & Shielbert.
One thing the storyline is lacking is meaningful side plots. In the originals we get adventures with Team Rocket or whoever the villain is in the title, but we get nothing of the sort in this one. We get some lore into the legendarys, which I think is an improvement on other titles, but it doesn't amount to playtime and doesn't offer the challenge that some have.
It does have two DLCs, one out and one to come, which seem not only to add a whole host of lore, brand new Pokémon to find and more; but add a fair few hours of play. I don't think it's fair I count The Crowned Tundra or The Isle of Armor.
Sound and Visuals
Now, one thing a lot of people might disagree, is I would've been interested to see spoken dialogue in this title. I realise no Pokémon game has done it, but it's the first main title game on a brand new more powerful system. I would have loved to see the attempt, I think a lot of fans might have got behind it.
We didn't get that though, and in terms of sound we didn't really get anything new; other than the gorgeous soundtracks as we travel around Galar. These are always spot on for Pokémon games, it's music you could have in the background and just chill out too.
The graphics aren't anything special, obviously comparing them to DS titles it's a whole different world; but to other Nintendo Switch titles and it's not going to compare to some other big titles like Legend of Zelda.
At the end of the day, and this review, what you want to know is it worth picking up?
Pokémon Sword or Shield, both almost identical other than gym and a couple of Pokémon changes, they are both fun titles, but you could potentially find yourself rushing through them fairly quickly.
If you're big into the Pokémon series then you're going to find a lot to keep you busy, and some of the smaller tasks will keep you entertained for hours. However, if you're looking to get back into Pokémon, you may find yourself rushing through this and finishing it quicker than a regular full priced game.
Lucky for you, Zatu games tends to have cheaper titles and these are no exception. With an RRP of £49.99, I would say it's a good pickup for any Nintendo Switch or Pokémon fan. It's a great game overall, and despite a few problems, one I would say is a must have for any fan of the above.