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Video Game Review: Pokémon Sword and Shield

While the games aren't perfect, it's a fun romp for seasoned Pokémon veterans

Pokémon Sword and Shield came out earlier this month and, as a huge fan of the franchise, I immediately picked one of them up and played it. I now present to you my review of the newest Pokémon game.

Controversy arose when the it was revealed that for the first time in the franchise, the Pokédex will not feature all 809 Pokémon that have been released up to generation seven, but, instead will have a handful of those Pokémon along with the new region’s editions.

Despite my favourite Pokémon Furret not making the cut, I decided to go ahead and play the game anyway because wynaut. Honestly, I did not really feel the impact of the missing Pokémon, as most Pokémon games typically don’t allow you to catch every single Pokémon in existence, but instead allow you to transfer Pokémon from other games in order to complete your Pokédex.

There are some designs that fall short, such as the new squirrel Pokémon, Skwovet, which is quite literally just a squirrel that evolves into Greedent, a bigger squirrel. Nevertheless, I found a lot of the new Pokémon designs to be creative; I was immediately sold, for example, on the new starting bird for the Galar region: Rookiedee and its evolution Corviknight.

The most important thing to mention about this game, however, is that there is almost no story. The only conflict present is with a fellow competitor in the gym challenge and, even then, they are removed from fights about halfway through the game’s progression. Everyone else in the game is absurdly nice to you, and you can go through the entire gym challenge without any lasting problems. Your “rival” in the game, if they can even be called that, is stalker-like; you can’t go two routes without them waiting for you and telling you where the next step in your journey should be.

Game Freak

I don’t mind getting lost or turned around when exploring in games because it adds challenge and gives a sense of a wider world outside of where the game tells you to go. However, the only places that you can actively explore are the Wild Area and Route 9, leaving little opportunity to create that sense of wonder.

There are hints about the overarching plot, but your rival’s brother and his rival decide to “deal with it,” leaving the player wondering why they can’t be involved. The player is only allowed to know the plot right before you fight the champion, and even then, the plot takes up only about an hour of gameplay. When conflict does ensue, the game creates an evil, nonsensical scheme that comes out of nowhere, and feels forced as a result.

Overall, I’d say that if you are an avid Pokémon fan, then there is no harm in trying out Pokémon Sword and Shield. If you feel ambivalent or unsure about the game, then just skip this one. It’s not an awful game and has some endearing qualities, but it’s also not an amazing one.

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