POKÉMON SWORD & SHIELD
By Tom "El Diablo" Brock on November 22, 2019
Sometimes I dream that I'm standing on a giant meadow, surrounded by rolling hills and hundreds of adoring fans. The sun gleams on my muscles as I raise my hand to the sky, my weapon of choice firmly in my grasp, and the crowd falls silent. I capture them with my rugged good looks and piercing stare and say (in a very manly voice, of course): Alright trainers, listen up! Welcome to the Galar region! I am Pokémon Master Tom and I am here to teach you everything about Pokémon Sword & Shield!
Pokémon Sword & Shield, the first two core RPG games by Pokémon to be released for the Nintendo Switch, are finally here! I have been waiting ever since the announcement, which was well over a year ago, and now I finally got to play these beauties!
The 8th generation of Pokémon brings us to the Galar region, a region heavily influenced by the United Kingdom. I personally find this to be my favorite region so far, as far as design is concerned. The scenery is amazing and the cities in the game truly feel like they could actually be located somewhere in the UK. The final city is even called Wyndon, has a massive clock tower, ferris wheel and an almost Olympic looking stadium. hmm, I wonder which city inspired it.
Aside from the beautiful region, there's also a lot of new beautiful Pokémon added to this already densely populated universe. Some of these new Pokémon are kind of variations (or new takes, if you will) on classic, already existing Pokémon, while others are completely new Pokémon, made from scratch. The Galarian form Pokémon provide a funny spin on Pokémon from previous generations, just like Alolan forms did in Sun & Moon. My personal favorites are definitely Galarian Weezing and Sirfetch'd, which both feature incredibly cool designs that fit right into the UK feel of the game.
So, let's talk about the story a little bit; I'll try to put in as little spoilers as humanly possible, but I can't explain the game properly without 'spoiling' absolutely nothing, sooooo.
** SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU WANT TO GO INTO THE GAME COMPLETELY BLINDLY DO NOT READ BELOW THIS POINT! **
(Which, coincidentally, would be a shame, because I rather love talking about Pokémon)
Well, now that we've got that out of the way; let's do this.
In Pokémon Sword & Shield, you are a (presumably) 10-year old starting Pokémon Trainer with the burning desire to become the undisputed Pokémon master!
What? You knew that already? Okay, fair point!
Well, here's something you might not yet know; one of the interesting things about Sword & Shield is that, right up until you reach the Pokémon League, the story revolves around you becoming the champion with as little distractions as possible. Now, I personally loved that. I always hated the fact that, in previous games, I kept being dragged away from my goal by evil teams trying to take over the world and stuff like that. To those teams I say: "Well I'm sorry, but the world can wait until I'm champion, okay!?" But, back to the game at hand! In the new games, champion Leon will try to take care of all the problems in Galar so you can focus on your gym challenge, which is an absolute delight. Oh, by the way, gym battles are back! Gym battles in Galar are absolutely incredible. These battles take place in giant stadiums that have a Premier League-like feel to them and are being broadcasted throughout the entirety of Galar! The gym battles also allow you to use one of the new games' battle mechanics, the so-called "Dynamax" technique.
Dynamaxing your Pokémon means they become huge in size and power for exactly 3 turns, and it can really turn the entire battle around! Your standard moves become incredibly powerful Dynamax moves, that could quite possibly help you beat even the most fierce opponents! Be wise about when you use them though, because like I mentioned earlier, they only last for 3 turns before your Pokémon turns back to its normal size and strength. You can only use the Dynamax technique once during every match so, again, be smart about when to use it!
After beating the gym challenge you will be entered into the Champions Cup. In the Champions Cup you will be facing the very best trainers the Galar region has to offer in an unforgiving knockout tournament! If you manage to come out of the tournament victorious, you will be given the opportunity to challenge champion Leon for his title. Believe me when I say, Leon is a tough S.O.B. (for the younger readers among us: by S.O.B. I mean "Somewhat Obstinate Boy", of course.)
So if you manage to defeat Leon and become the new champion of Galar, the second part of the game, the so called post game, commences and that's where the more storyline focused developments happen. I'm not going to talk about this though, as it's truly best experienced without knowing anything about what's to about happen. Just get the game and go see what happens for yourselves! I truly hope this way of playing the game will return in future Pokémon games, as I really enjoyed being able to stay focused on the league without being distracted by a bunch of bad guys being their bad selves and messing everything up. Putting the more story driven content in the post game is a good solution to me!
After finishing the aforementioned post game, you will gain access to the Battle Tower, a place where you can truly test your skills on a level playing field. Especially in this place, please make sure that you turn the music all the way up, as it's absolutely incredible! (Shoutout Toby Fox, I really felt the determination in my soul)
One last thing I want to express my thoughts about is the Wild Area and the raid battles that take place within it. The Wild Area is a massive well ehhh... wild area? It has a Zelda - Breath of the Wild kinda feel to it and it is absolutely huge! It's a great place to catch lots of different Pokémon and train your own Pokémon against a few high-leveled Pokémon roaming around there too! Within the Wild Area there are several spots that have a chance of spawning a raid boss Pokémon. Interact with one of these spots and you will get the chance to team up with either 3 other players (if connected to the internet) or 3 AI trainers to try and take down this giant boss and catch it afterwards. I personally love the raid battles. they are lots of fun to do with your friends and will always give you lots of useful items as well as a chance to get your hands on a strong Pokémon!
All in all, Pokémon Sword & Shield are two phenomenal games that truly fulfill the needs of a true Pokémon fan. Aside from the exclusion of a big amount of previous gen Pokémon (PLEASE GAMEFREAK FIX THIS WITH UPDATES OVER TIME) the game has little to no negatives to it. I really enjoyed playing my way through Sword and am excited to start Shield too, but I'll probably take my time while playing that one.
If you are a Pokémon fan and, for whatever reasons, have not picked this game up yet, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! It's really fun to play! Oh, and if any of you have the balls (see what I did there?) to challenge me, come battle me! I will destroy you any day of the week and twice on Sundays!