#LateToTheParty Game Review: Pokemon Sword and Shield is an absolute banger, mate

I’m considering this a #LateToTheParty post because most people would have finished playing their copy of Pokémon Sword or Shield while here I am…just about finished because I only got my copy of Sword for Christmas.

What’s more perfect than immediately jumping into the Galar region when I’m in the area that inspired it’s creation?

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Welcome to Galar

From old school “colonial” buildings to skyscrapers hidden in the clouds, Galar is incredibly beautiful. I hope that the environmental design teams got a bonus because I’m still reeling!

The ‘Mons have decent designs for the second game running and the refresh of classic Pokémons like Wheezing and Farfetch’d, like in Sun and Moon with Vulpix and Marowak, was an absolute treat.

And to finally play Pokémon on the big screen, just made the experience that much more exciting.

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Gotta catch ’em all

“Dexit” aside, there are still plenty of Pokémon, new and old, lurking about in the Tall Grass (and sometimes out of it!). The Wild Area is an amazing addition to the Pokémon series, a pseudo-open world chock-full of ‘Mons running around, and I enjoyed Raiding even though I do it alone. I love how I can hop back into different parts of the Wild Area if I need a specific type of ‘Mon to progress on my journey – no more fussing about!

For the first time in my entire Pokémon Trainer career, I caught a Shiny Magikarp. I’m not joking, I didn’t even catch one while I was still playing Pokémon GO. I would be lying if I didn’t say that the catch had made my whole day and I wouldn’t stop dancing until I went to bed.

If there’s one thing I absolutely love from Sun/Moon, it is the ability to actually interact with your Pokémon. In Sword/Shield, you can play with your team while you’re out camping. You can play with them and cook a Curry while they cheer you on but one thing I’m absolutely gutted about is that you can’t pet them like you could during your Alolan adventures. Doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy playing fetch with Fishy, my non-shiny Gyarados, and co.

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Friends? Rivals?

I believe the classic “Pokémon experience” involves going on your adventures alongside your Rival, and Sword and Shield is no different but similar to Sun and Moon, your “Rival” is actually your childhood friend. Although a little later on you’ll get two more “Rivals”, only one of which actually satisfies the classic Rival qualities we love to hate from Gary/Blue (it’s Bede). Even then there’s not much in terms of ‘connectability’ – why do I have multiple “Rivals”? Why does Bede have such an attitude problem? Is Hop my best friend? Why does he want to beat me so much??

And remember when your Rival picked the Starter that was your weakness? Whatever happened to that?

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Oh, bugger that!

I found that my adventure was too easy to the point of it getting slightly boring by the time I faced Opal. There was only one Trainer that I had difficulty battling against, and that was Leon. Hop, Marnie and Bede were a breeze to beat again and again because my Pokemon were always at higher levels (also, type advantages!). But facing Leon was the first time my Pokemon were at a disadvantage and I have to admit that I got my butt whopped. It is a bit sad that it was at the end of the game where I stopped being lazy and actively trained my team.

However, my biggest issue with Sword and Shield (and thus, why it wasn’t in my “Games of the Decade” list) is that they could have added some voice acting to the little “cut scenes” you come across. It would have added to the game-immersion quite a bit more compared to one simply reading their lines across the screen. Whether they used the actors from both the Japanese and English animated series or hired other voice actors, just this one little thing would have made Sword and Shield one of my top Pokémon games.

Grookey, Scorbunny, Sobble… Oh my!

I tend to shy away from reading other people’s reviews before making up my own, but I can’t help but think that the game was a little short compared to Sun and Moon. Maybe its because I didn’t need to go through large big Route-areas to get to the next city or maybe its because I just breezed through the Gym Challenges, I’m not sure. Though with the recent announcement of the Sword and Shield Expansion Pass, I must admit that Game Freak have done us long-time Pokémon fans a solid. I had purposely waited for the release of Ultra Sun/Moon before I actually bought it, just so I didn’t need to make a double purchase for just a little bit more game content.

There were little things here and there that kept me from feeling like Sword/Shield was a perfect game. I would have really loved the addition of voice actors during cut-scenes or the little Battle blurbs. Ultimately, I still enjoyed myself and would definitely be Hop-ing back (ha!) into the game to get my Zacian.

Blaise gib dis game…

full starfull starfull starfull starempty star

 

FOUR STARMIES!

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Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are available now. Get the DLCs pack for Isle of Armor (out now) and The Crown Tundra (Fall 2020).


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Blaise

I'm a freelance photographer and writer. I'm using this blog to give myself a platform for the creative freedom in games and tech writing without the fear of analytics.

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