Pokemon Shield and Sword begin with a journey into the deep woods with Hop. The pair of characters follow a wooloo that has disappeared into the woods. Without any Pokemon, you wander into a dangerous, foggy area. The area becomes quite foggy, and then a large Pokemon appears. This Pokemon scares our trainers and then disappears back into the woods. Our trainers travel to the Pokemon lab, unsure as to what they say, to begin their journey as Pokemon trainers and potentially unravel the story behind the mysterious Pokemon.
Since our main playable character is customizable and the player has a lot of individual decisions to make for the playable character, they are hard to describe. We do have Hop, who is the best friend, and fellow gym challenger who constantly pushes you to be the best trainer you can be.
As someone who has been playing Pokemon games since I was little, this game had a pretty high bar to hit. Coming off Pokemon Let’s Go, I was a little bit worried that the quality of the game wouldn’t be the standard I expected, but the return to the original dynamics of Pokemon was great. We get some solid characters with some interesting backstories, and the characters are pretty dynamic. Events change and shape the characters around us, and it is really cool to not only watch the Pokemon grow but also the characters around you.
The plot is decent, with some interesting storylines along the way, We go in a few directions, as well as a couple side storylines, but they keep you on your toes and prevent the gym challenge from becoming stale.The map is really immersive, with some very different regions, and the Wild Area is a really cool concept. The Champion’s Cup after the gym challenge was entertaining and difficult, and a little bit different than anything else we had seen in the past. I thought it was a great change, and it adds some more difficult battles to a relatively easy game.
This feels like a starter game, so for any Pokemon veterans out there it might feel a touch easy for the most part. By starter game, I mean a game that was built to try and grasp a new generation of Pokemon fans and bring them into the next generation of Pokemon on the Nintendo Switch. The game starts slow and it pushes you in the right direction, and that makes it pretty easy, It almost feels dumbed down, to begin with, more so than other Pokemon games, and that continues for most of the gym challenge as well. There are some difficult battles, but I only totally died maybe once in the 36 hours I played, which is unlike a Pokemon game in my opinion. The easiness doesn’t take away from the decent storyline or the fact that this is a fun game, but it makes it feel slower. The challenge was always what brought me back and kept me playing for hours straight, and this one lacks that. Pokemon Sword/Shield was a blast to play and after not playing a Pokemon game in recent history, it was fun to jump back into that world. I’m really hoping for a more difficult game come November-ish (Diamond/ Pearl remake hopefully), but this is a much better game than Pokemon Let’s Go. The battles are entertaining, the region’s Pokemon are creative and the map is pretty awesome. If you are looking for a game to pick up on the Switch, this is a great one, and perfectly timed with a new Pokemon on the way in about 6 months!
Pokémon Sword/Shield is the eight installment of the main Pokémon franchise and is commonly referred to as Gen 8. As a quick overview of this game before I get into the nitty gritty areas, this game was fun and enjoyable, albeit there were some areas that I didn’t quite agree with. In general, though, this was a fun region to play through and features more Pokémon and introduces new mechanics that were fun to learn.
Now, the first thing I’m going to mention about this game is that I played the Sword version of the game. Besides some regional exclusive Pokémon and some gym leader changes, the core of the game remains the same. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The first thing that caught my eye about this game was the method in encountering Pokémon. In previous titles, Pokémon were found in tall grass and were treated as random encounters, whereas in this game, 3D models of the Pokémon wander in the grass for your character to touch to fight. This game also has an encounter system similar to previous games where traveling in grass can make an exclamation point may appear and that encounter will be a real random encounter. Another aspect that was removed was the use of Hidden Machines, or HMs. Although I never really liked HMs, this system helped with managing the pace of the story and presenting some difficulty. The final major change that I personally enjoyed was the Wild Area and Raids. In the Wild Area, the player has full control of the character and can move the camera. This creates a nice open area for the player to explore and catch a variety of Pokémon. This place also holds Dens to initiate Raids. Raids are where the player fight against giant Pokémon who have been Dynamaxed. After beating these Raids, players are given a lot of resources as rewards, which includes different sizes of EXP Candies, which destroys any and all challenge in the game. This system also got me to catch more Pokémon than I usually do.
Now, onto the aspects that I didn’t enjoy as much. First off, the difficulty. For those familiar with previous games, you will understand the magnitude of this next statement. Because of the new Raid system, I was able to evolve my starter to its third stage before fighting the first gym. This sets the tone for the rest of the game because I was able to bypass all challenge by power leveling to the top. As a result, the game was very very easy. The other aspect that I didn’t enjoy as much was the story. It just didn’t feel all that coherent and it felt like the player was just thrust into situations just to forward the plot without any connections between the events. The post game mini story after becoming Champion does present a nice story that wraps up some of the loose ends. Besides the story, the characters felt pretty bland. Hop, in the main story, doesn’t change at all throughout the plot. He has nice development during the epost game story though.Overall, the game is still pretty fun to play. For those who like to be overpowered before every big fight and enjoy the grinding, the Raids provide the ability to do so. Seeing the Pokémon in 3D models are pretty cool as well, though I do miss the old sprites. In general, this game felt more like an intro game for new players to get into Pokémon, however, there is still worth for veteran players to play this as well.
As this is my very first experience playing a Pokémon game I’m not as knowledgeable as my co-reviewers. I had always known what Pokémon was and even collected cards for a bit but I never played the video games until now. As first experiences go, I can definitely see why so many love these games. The game was colourful, imaginative, full of many cute and cool Pokémon, and just, in general, was a fun time. One thing I never truly realized before was the strategy of Pokémon and I never quite figured out type matchups and while some were obvious but some constantly escaped me. I played like it was chess in a way where I sacrificed weaker Pokémon trying to hold off using my best Pokémon until the last moment and my friends (who are Pokémon fans) were horrified and shocked with how I played. Now in terms of characters, I didn’t really find any that were particularly memorable other than maybe Hop though he did get on my nerves for part of the game constantly challenging me. The gaming mechanics weren’t too hard to pick up and I found myself understanding how to use my different attacks quite easy though I was guided by the game telling me which attacks were effective which was helpful. The animations for the attacks were also one of the highlights of the game for me and I loved seeing how the power was shown. The Dynamax ability was really cool and I loved seeing how the powers were amplified. The battles were quite fun and I liked showing my progress by how quickly I could defeat someone and then the gym battles were even more fun and I always looked forward to those as they felt epic. The story was interesting though to me at least it took a backseat to the exploring and the battles.
All in all, this was a solid game that I’m glad I played and was a good introduction to Pokémon. I would recommend this to fans of the other games and to newcomers alike.