As title presents, I bring forth today the lovely new releases Sword and Shield! These two games were released November 15, 2019, which means anyone who has had any real, soul-deep interest in playing the games would and/or should have done so by now (and if not, don’t worry, I won’t give away any epic spoilers). I suppose, in a way, they aren’t really “new releases” anymore, but they are fresh enough to the world that talking about them won’t be too “behind the times”.
One of the biggest things I want to mention about these games is the excitement I felt when the word got out that there would be a Pokémon game on a console instead of a handheld 3DS. Then, upon release, to see the gorgeous artwork they had created to make these games top notch? I was stunned. I know nowadays that video games have taken a turn into an almost live-action design, but Pokémon had never taken that leap before because (I’m not including Let’s Go, Pikachu/Eevee in this; that’s a whole other story) the games had always been on a DS screen. First opening this game, I was swept away by the artwork, a major component that really brought this game to life. Between the line-art that was bold and subtle as needed, the vibrant colours, and the intriguing prologue and introduction, what wouldn’t draw a Pokémon fan in from the very beginning? The animation was also an excellent component in my books. It was smooth, fluid in all the right ways. The short clips were edgy and fun and ha the ability to draw you into the story. I have never been one to read the text speech from NPCs, but I can honestly say that I read most of them this time around. I have been a Pokémon fan for two decades now, so needless to say I was very worried about how they would manage to bring that love for the classic games I started with out of me, on an entirely new console with an entirely new design. I can safely say, they managed well. All I did my first half hour of gameplay was explore. I looked at everything; the trees and all of their different shapes and styles and colours, the Pokémon themselves, running along the road or inside of houses (I got a good chuckle chasing around wooloos). I looked at the people, with all of their new hairstyles and attire and house layouts. I watched the grass sway in the breeze (when there was one), the list goes on. Naturally, the grand entrance of Leon and his champion Charizard were a welcoming sight. I love the integration of an original starter into the brand-new game, and as part of the Champion’s team no less? Goosebumps. 100%.
Another favourite features (and quite frankly, my favourite part of the game) was adventuring through the Wild Area. I have always wanted, and will always want, a purely open world Pokémon game. No fences, no restrictions. I want the creators of Pokémon to take on a ‘Zelda: Breath of the Wild’ type of world design. Zelda had no restrictions, and if they did (strictly in terms of world size and creation depth) I wasn’t able to find them, which is the whole point. I would love to be able to climb mountains and find the Pokémon that would normally be found on mountains, or watch flying-types like Rookidee soar through the air. I want to be able to run through fields and meadows and watch the flowers sway and watch grass-types frolic. Alas, I will take what I can get, and that’s where the Wild Area comes in. Being pretty close to the beginning of the game, this was definitely a smart move for the creators. I am not the only one who wanted an open world Pokémon game, so throwing this as a teaser to what realms could be explored down the road? Wise choice. I was able to walk through tall grass and have Pokémon scatter away from me, or charge at me (thanks, Tyrogue). I got to enjoy watching the Baltoy’s spin round and round as they headed in my direction. The very first Pokémon I encountered was this HUGE Onix. Even the sizes were different, and that was just…. So fantastic. Any other Pokémon game made all of the Pokémon seem identical in size, even tiny flower-sized Roselia next to giant rock-snack Onix. There was also the water to swim in, watching Lapras’ laze around. I got to see tons of Skwovet roaming around, because naturally, even in Pokémon games we have to be hounded by the ever-present squirrel creature.
Lastly, the thing that every gamer (or in the case of Pokémon, trainer) decides, whether consciously making the decision or just ending up with a favourite by the end of the game without realization, is who they think the best Pokémon of this game ended up being. Well, with so many fantastic options (legendaries aside) such as Seismitoad, the ever amazing Gengar, Coalossal, and so on, how can someone just… choose? I have to admit, Coalossal is pretty dang cool. I love his design; I love that he kind of looks like a volcano if I’m being honest (and with a name to match to boot). But my favourite? It was the third Pokémon I caught. Nickit. I haven’t decided if I even want to evolve him, because I just adore my little Fox-mon. I named him Kurama, after my favourite nine-tailed beast from Naruto. Pretty fitting I must say. Despite my lengthy playthrough, he as been by my side from the beginning, and he will stay that way until… I don’t even know when, probably forever.
Ultimately, this game, while not my favourite (a spot forever reserved for Pokémon Diamond) definitely reached my top 3. I set my bar pretty high when it comes to new Pokémon games, and while there were the occasional animation scenes that could have belonged back on a 3DS scene, overall the game was incredible. I feel my standards were met and pushed even higher for the next round of Pokémon games!