The new Pokemon games are here and they’ve been met with a lot of hate and review bombing. If you think you’ll find that here you’ll leave disappointed. Here’s my review of Pokemon Sword & Shield!
We all know what Pokemon is about by now. You’re a new trainer that’s sent out into the world to catch Pokemon, battle your rival, and try and be a Pokemon Master. And it’s really fun. Pokemon has stayed mostly the same since it originally released. I say don’t fix what ain’t broke. Pokemon has always played well and I play it to experience a new region and catch all of the new Pokemon. The gameplay is the same with one big difference this time around. You can now explore a big, open area called the Wild Area and I love it. For the first time, we can fully explore an open worldish Pokemon area that lets us control the camera!
It’s not perfect. I think the wild area should have different biomes, but what we have now is good and it’s not bad for a first attempt at something different by Gamefreak. I love visiting the Wild Area. I like watching the Pokemon walk around, fishing, participating in raid battles with other Pokemon trainers, and camping.
Since I mentioned raids you should know that, yes, they are in this game, but it’s not what you think. You can play with three other people or do them alone while you fight a giant-sized Pokemon. Dynamax is the term used for them in this game. It wouldn’t be a Pokemon game without some sort of new gimmick. At first, I thought I would hate this, but it’s not an overdone feature and it’s honestly a lot of fun. Your Pokemon has Dynamax levels as well as their normal level. Just because you have a level 70 Pokemon going up against what should be an easy win doesn’t mean it’ll play out that way because Dynamax battles are a whole different beast than normal ones. They go through different phases and get stronger as the battle goes on.
Once you defeat one of them you’ll have the chance to catch them at the end. If you fail they’ll run away and you’ll have to hope that you’ll run into them again later on if it’s something you really wanted. Fishing is back! And I love it. I really missed fishing in Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee. Well… it’s back and the surprise factor is still there because I honestly had no idea what I would fish up because I went in this game completely blind. I didn’t look up any of the Pokemon or anything about the game so it was a genuine surprise when I ran into some new water Pokemon in the game.
HMs are a thing of the pass. They’re gone and moves like Surf are TMs now. Your bike does everything for you. It’s called Rotom Bike and I love it. I’m not sure if it’s my favorite bike because I really love the Mach & Acro bikes from Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire, but it’s up there with them. This bike can even ride on water! I love it. The only reason why I don’t ride it all the time is that I don’t like the clothes my character wears while he’s riding around.
There’s also a form of TM called a TR. You get these after battling a Dynamaxed Pokemon. Theses special TMs work how they used to back in the day. You can only use them a single time before they break and you’ll have to find another Pokemon and hope you get more of them. There’s some really good moves that can only be gotten this way. It made me think twice before using them up because I knew my choice was permanent.
The best part of the game is the Pokemon League. It’s the best in the entire series. You actually have to battle the top trainers from around the region in order to progress to the final round. After that, you have to battle the gym leaders again and this time they don’t hold back. I really loved the experience and was genuinely sad when it ended because of the of the weak end game.
This is the most diverse Pokemon soundtrack ever and I love it. The gym battle music is probably my favorite in the whole series. And I love the song that played while I explored Circhester. The music that plays is a big reason why I revisit that town so often in the game. Every town had really unique music playing the background. This game played everything from Rock to Country music and I honestly loved it all. The final boss track is fantastic too.
Grooky, Scorbunny, and Sobble are the starter Pokemon this time around and so far I only like Scorbunny. I like the way everyone (except Sobble) is designed, but I can’t help but think that Gamefreak wanted Scorbunny to be a fire/fighting-type and backed out at the last minute. It looks like a fighting type Pokemon and it would have benefited greatly from it in-game, but it keeps its fire typing throughout the game. None of the starters get dual typing this time around and that was very disappointing to me when the last few generations all had some pretty interesting starter Pokemon. The last time we had pure grass, water, and fire type Pokemon was in Pokemon Black & White.
Pokemon Sword & Shield are the best looking games in the series and it’s not even close. The “controversy” about the graphics was bullshit. The entire thing was bullshit, but that part was like 100% bullshit. This game looks good 80% of the time. The Wild Area is where things start to get interesting. The Wild Area is a mixed bag. While it does look pretty and I love seeing all of the Pokemon roam around the land it also performs like shit in certain areas. The fps drop is very noticeable and I think I’ll blame the Switch more than the game since the Switch is a bit on the weak side.
The rest of the game performs like a dream and looks really good. The animations are the best they’ve ever been and the different clothing items available in the game are very diverse. There’s a style for everyone and you can make your trainer look how unique you want them too. The different cities look fantastic and I fell in love with Circhester and Windon. I think they’re two of the best cities in any Pokemon game.
I thought the story in this game was good, but it felt a bit rushed to me. Just when things finally start happening and the villain is revealed the game ended. There’s a nice epilogue (like there was in Sun and Moon and Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire) that showed that being the Pokemon Master is more than just battling other trainers it’s also protecting the region from all sorts of disasters. I thought that was really cool I just wish it was longer. I really like the growth that some characters had in this game too. I won’t spoil anything for anyone because the game still is new, but I thought the overall package was pretty good. I would put Sun & Moon’s story above this one though.
People love to call the end game in Sword & Shield weak when they’re honestly on par with most Pokemon games. Every Pokemon game has had about the same amount of content at the end game as Sword & Shield. The real end game is filling up your Pokedex and getting a competitive team together to battle online. This game actually had an epilogue that had a satisfying conclusion to the main story and I really enjoyed just like I’m enjoying trying to fill up my Pokedex.
Pokemon isn’t the only game to have performance issues on the Switch. At the end of the day, the Switch is underpowered. That’s no excuse for the number of issues that I had while I explored the Wild Area. I hope that a few patches release to make it more playable in the future.
Pokemon Sword & Shield are some of the best Pokemon games I've ever played and I've played them all. I love the new region, Pokemon, and Wild Area. I also love the soundtrack and Pokemon League. It's the best it's ever been in the series. Sword & Shield are fantastic and if you're still on the fence on whether or not to buy one, or both, of them I think you'll find a lot to love in the latest games. They're easily better than Let's Go and possibly the best Switch games out there.