Get ready for yet another adventure! Last week, Nintendo announced fans would finally get a mainline Pokémon RPG for the Nintendo Switch by the end of 2019. The first ever full-scale Pokémon games on console, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, will take place in the eighth region, filled with new adventures, quests, and challenges.
The setting for Sword and Shield is the Galar region, and it looks stunning. The developers clearly wanted to set the new region apart and used the full capabilities of a console like the Switch to do so. Large cities, brilliant landscapes and detailed environments look breathtaking in the short clips shared so far. It’s sure to dazzle when actually played and enjoyed on an actual TV.
Nintendo also announced the newest starters for the game: Scorbunny, Grookey and Sobble. While the trio has already picked up a lot of hype for its cuteness and originality, the new Pokémon were the weakest part of the announcement since every region arrives with brand-new Pokémon, and — frankly — recent entrances to the franchises have nearly as many duds as exciting new designs.
Fans often deride Nintendo for adding more and more Pokémon to an ever-growing roster — to the point where it’s now nearly impossible to keep track of them all. Fortunately, this forces the games’ developers to experiment in exciting new ways. Pokémon X and Pokémon Y utilized the Nintendo 3DS to create a much more vivid world, using 3D models rather than 2D sprites in-game. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon changed the basic, repetitive story outline that had been tired since the very first games in the mid-1990s, even replacing gyms with Island Trials.
Hopefully, Sword and Shield will take similar steps. The fact that the game is on console alone indicates it may head in a whole new direction, and the game should set itself apart even if it doesn’t.
The important reality to note is that Nintendo only releases two types of Pokémon games: new, original content and remakes of previous installments. Though it seems like we’re a bit overdue for a remake of Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version, the fact is it’s much safer to try a new style of game with a new generation than to remake and potentially ruin a classic game that people had enjoyed before with new mechanics.
The timing for this game is just right too. Departures from the usual style of gameplay have arrived with each of the last two generations of games. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! dropped last fall for the Nintendo Switch, and though they were both a remake of the original games and were not a full-scale RPG, they showed how much fun a game for the console can be and how well it can work — although it appears the overworld encounters from Let’s Go won’t return in Sword and Shield.
Hopefully, Sword and Shield will find ways to set themselves apart with their new Pokémon designs. The world they’ve showcased already makes it seem like a fantastic place to start an adventure, both in the Pokémon world and the real world’s expansion of the games’ scopes and possibilities.