Game Night, Pokemon, Video Games

Pokemon Sword/Shield: Getting Angry Over Nothing

All of you people who spent their energy screaming at the devs about a game that hadn’t even come out could have done so much more with your time. You could have gone out and planted a tree. You could’ve played a game that didn’t make you upset. You could have gone for a nice morning walk. But you didn’t do any of that. Instead, you wasted your time screaming about how a game meant for children wasn’t making you, an adult, happy. And you hadn’t even played the damn thing yet.

Well, guess what? I have played it. And I’m not going to judge it on what I wanted it to be, like all you assholes did. I’m going to judge the game for what it is. So how was it?

It was okay. I had a lot of fun playing it from start to end. But it isn’t going to be winning my ‘Game of the Year’ nomination. Nor will it become my new favorite generation of Pokemon. It is a perfectly fine and fun game.

Plot: What the Fuck Did You Expect?

Do I really need to explain the plot of a god damn Pokemon game? This isn’t the Witcher 3! You should already know exactly what I’m about to say!

You play as *insert name here*, a young child living in the Galar region. After being given a Pokemon by Leon, the champion of the Galar Pokemon League, you and your friend/rival Hop head off on a Pokemon journey! With Leon’s endorsement, you’re allowed to participate in the Galar Gym Challenge, a trek across the country with the aim of conquering the eight gyms, fighting through a brutal tournament, and facing Leon himself! But your job won’t be easy! The enthusiastic Team Yell stands in your way at every turn, working to hinder your progress at every turn! All the while, you assist an up and coming Pokemon Professor in researching the legend of Galar, as well as unveiling the mystery of the Darkest Day and the Sword and Sheild.

If you were expecting some grand plot, you are bound to be disappointed. Events occur with very little to tie them together. The characters are likable but one-dimensional, with little to no character development. Only one character undergoes any meaningful or interesting growth, that being your rival, Hop. But aside from him, everyone is fun but simple.

There also isn’t much of a villainous presence throughout the story. Team Yell feels more like a mild inconvenience than an antagonistic force. Then, right at the last leg of the game, the story decides to pull a not-so-twisting-plot-twist and introduce a new, actually threatening antagonistic team.

All of whom have Pokemon around the level fifty area. Which sounds intimidating! But your team should be around the late fifty to early sixty zones by then, so it really isn’t.

I honestly don’t think there’s anything else to say. It’s a Pokemon story. The biggest difference is that the gyms are now a big stadium with lots of people watching as you fight, making the Pokemon League feel like an actual sporting event. It’s meaningless, but it adds a nice little layer to the setting.

It’s fun and nothing more. Not thought-provoking or especially memorable. Just fun.

Visuals: That one tree looks bad, therefor the whole game looks bad!

Fuck you, fuck your shitty argument, and fuck your tree! This game looks great!

It’s bright, colorful, and absolutely adorable! Each character, as well as each Pokemon, has a distinct and cute design! Sure, some of them are on the ridiculous side. But they’re just so adorable that I don’t care! Not all of them are winners (why is the apple a dragon?) but none of them are especially bad.

Except you Bede. Except you. You suck.

All of the environments are fairly nice too! Each area is distinct from one another, with its own architecture and landmarks. Sure, the trees don’t look all that great. But for a game on the Nintendo god damn Switch? They look fine.

Oh, and the music is phenomenal! Each track is a jam, whether they are meant to soothe or get your blood pumping! The new gym theme is easily the best track, as it gets into my head very often without me even thinking about it!

Sure, this game isn’t especially impressive. Some of the animations are less than stellar. Not all of the new Pokemon designs are winners. The framerate is consistent, but it isn’t especially smooth. It’s a decent looking game, but it won’t win any visual awards.

Friendly reminder that this is the Nintendo Switch. Unless it’s a Mario or Zelda game, it isn’t going to look especially phenomenal.

Gameplay: Exactly What You’d Expect

It’s a Pokemon game. There are a few changes to the formula, some big and some small. But the core gameplay of the series remains the same as ever. Honestly, I shouldn’t even have to describe this.

As a Pokemon trainer, you do two primary tasks. You run around, catching new Pokemon and battling other trainers. Each Pokemon has one or two types, which make them strong and weak to other Pokemon. You run from town to town, battling through Gyms to get badges until you earn the right to face the champion.

There are a few greatly appreciated changes in this game. For one, there are no more HMs, so you don’t need to sacrifice move slots for your team to learn moves that are bad but necessary. Instead, all of the necessary traversal options are given to your bike, which can glide across the water. Better yet, you unlock the fast traveling Fly replacement almost right away, making backtracking a cinch.

Two gameplay features have been added to make this game stand out. The first is the Wild Area, a massive free-roam area filled with Pokemon. Here, you can find Pokemon that are small and low level or Pokemon that are huge and super high level! Some of them are even fully evolved, like Duscnoir and Gengar and a few others! Wandering around this Wild Area was actually really fun and kind of stressful, as I didn’t want to get caught by a Pokemon thirty levels higher than my team.

Oh yeah, Pokemon chase you now. They’ll actually leave the tall grass and chase your ass down. So if you ever wanted to know what it was like being chased by a Liepard or an Arcanine, congratulations! This game has you covered!

The second major change is the new Dynamax system. In certain battles, such as gym battles and raid battles, you can give your Pokemon a three-turn-long boost, making them Kaiju sized. While in this state, their moves become super-charged, dealing tons of extra damage and guaranteeing a hit. Be warned though: once you Dynamax, you can’t do it again. And your Dynamaxed Pokemon is not invincible; should they be taken down, you lose your Dynamax for that fight.

You can also fight Dynamaxed wild Pokemon out in the Wild Area. You can either team up with three NPCs (don’t do that one, they suck) or three other players (who will likely have Pokemon way stronger than is necessary, but whatever gets the job done) and fight a wild Dynamax Pokemon. Capturing these things isn’t hard, but beating them can be more challenging than you’d think. They deal out lots of damage, can put up barriers to lessen your damage, and take a good while to defeat if you’re unprepared.

Honestly, I think the Dynamax system is just okay. It’s a fun little addition that makes this game stand out. But I never felt like I needed to Dynamax in order to survive. It always felt like an extra convenience rather than a necessity. When I used my Dynamax fruitlessly, it felt more like a mild annoyance than a major blow.

Oh yeah, there’s also Gigantimax. Certain Pokemon, when given a special item, take on a new form when they Dynamax. These forms are pretty cool and strong. But they don’t escape the trap the Dynamax system fell into. It’s cool, but it doesn’t feel necessary.

The same can be said about camping. Honestly, I don’t have anything to say about camping. It’s super cute and wholesome, but entirely unnecessary. I camped all of two times throughout my entire playthrough. It is so unimportant an addition that I forgot it was in the game!

All in all, this game is pretty fun. The battle system is as simple and solid as ever, exploring is pretty fun, and all the multiplayer mechanics are still as decent as ever. It’s fun for the twenty-or-so hours the main game lasts, and I can see myself replaying it fairly easily. But it will rarely take priority over the list of games that I need to finish/review.

And what an annoyingly long list it is.

Conclusion

This is the most controversial game of the year. This perfectly fine, pretty good game is the most controversial game of 2019. Nothing else has raised as much mayhem as this game did. Think about that for ten seconds and tell me you don’t want to walk into the ocean!

This was an unusually angry review. I apologize for that.

I’d recommend playing Pokemon Sword/Shield. It’s a lot of fun from start to end. That being said, this isn’t a game that will last you very many hours of gameplay. If that doesn’t sound worth the full price tag to you, then I’d recommend waiting for a sale or a price drop. Still, no matter what price you get it, this game will provide a lot of fun from start to end!

But here’s the real question: will it be any better as a Nuzlocke?

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