Review by NeoArashi
Despite the flaws, this game is great.
After all the controversy and the memes, this game finally released on November 15th 2019. I was super excited when I got to the store and bought the games (Yes, i got both versions) And started playing immidiately when I got in the bus heading back home. And what an adventure it was!
By RPG standards the story is definitely... lacking, but by pokemon standards, it's actually pretty good. It starts out pretty slow (It takes quite a while before you can even get your first badge) and as soon as you get your first badge, the story advances quite quickly. The main reason for this is that most of the story occurs before AND after you get all your 8 gym badges. Unlike most other Pokemon games, you don't just go beat the Elite 4 and Champion when you get the 8th Badges, there are actually quite a lot to do, and there are at least 9-10 ''boss fights'' after you get the last badge. At first, I was sort of disapointed that very few things happen during your gym challenge, but near the end, I saw why they decided to write the story like that, and I think it matches perfectly with the whole theme of the game (in which Pokemon battles are almost, if not more popular than soccer/football the the UK) I do have 2 main gripes with the story though. Some events are done completely off-screen. Again, those offscreen events usually makes sences (The champion actually taking care of thr threat rather than sending a 12 years old do it, like most pokemon games) but even if the player is not the one taking care of said threats, it would have been cool to at least see the Champion do it via a cutscene. My second complain is the post-game. I will admit and say I didn't beat it yet, but I kinda hated how the antagonists of the post-game are completely random and unannounced. In OmegaRuby/AlphaSapphire, you actually saw glimpse of it's post-game antagonist during the main story. It was minimal, but there were some foreshadowing. But in Sword/Shield? Nope, the villains appear out of nowhere and basically announce they are the villains.
Honestly, I think some people focused on the bad way too much and completely ignored the good. Yes, that tree in the picture is pretty lame, and yes, Double Kick's animation still sucks, however, the graphics outside the Wild Area looks very nice (best graphics in a main pokemon game so far) And the characters are well animated in general. No longer the protagonist is forever cursed to smile at every danger that presents themselves, s/he actually have more facial reaction, even in battles. NOw, I'm not saying they couldn't be better, but that's still way better than was presented in Sun and Moon. I will (partly) side with the people who are critical of the move Double Kick (and multi-hit moves in general) because yes, they do really suck, and I hope they'll get better in future games.
If there is one department where Pokemon Sword and Shield truly shines, it's in it's music. There are not a single song I didn't like. The music that plays when you fight your Rival Hop is entertaining, I absolutely love all of the town themes (My favourite being Stow-on-Side). The real treat is in the gym leader fights. In Generation 5, when you were up to the leader's last pokemon, the music was interupted for another track that shows you you were close to defeat the leader. In Generation 8, the music that plays during the gym battles actually ''evolves'' depending on the situation. During a battle, the normal version will play, when one of your pokemon is defeated, the music will regress to a quiter version while you select a new pokemon, after YOU defeat a leader's pokemon, the music change to a slightly louder melody while you get your experience points and the leader chooses his/her new pokemon, and finally, when the leader is up to his/her last pokemon, the crowd (because yes, there is actually a crowd watching you when you fight gym leaders) starts cheering and chanting along with the music. There are a couple other tracks that also changes depending on what happens during the fight... but I'll let you discover that yourselves.
This section will be shorter than the rest. The gameplay is the same we had since gen 2. Catch pokemon, fight them to become stronger and evolve, breed them to get the baby Pokemon (or to get the perfect team) The main change is Dynamaxing, which is basically a mix of Generation 6's Mega Evolution and Generation 7's Z-Moves. I think it's a great replacement for both, as it allows EVERY pokemon to get a spotlight, unlike Mega-Evolution where only 50 or so Pokemon were capable of mega-evolving.
Online connectivity: 5/10
In my opinion, this is where the games drop the ball big time. Generation 6's PSS was perfect, and Generation 7's Festival Plaza was a bit annoying, but easy to work with. However, Sowrd and Shiwld's Y-comm sucks really bad compared to the previous 2 generation method of connecting. For starters, the Global Trade System (GTS) has been completely removed, and there are no way to connect dirrectly with a friend. You have to set up a code if you want your friend to join you, and given that the code only had 4 digit, that leaves only 10000 different codes. The first time I wanted to trade with a friend, I stumbled upon a Japanese and Korean players who had set up the same code as mine. Lastly, it is VERY hard to get into a max raid battle with more than 1 or 2 other players. I never got into a full party. And to make matter worse, when you can't find a full party, the missing players are replaced with terrible AI/Pokemon. It wouldn't be too bad if the AI at least got better Pokemon after you beta the game, but nope. I get NPCs that have Magikarp, Pikachu and Eevee... The only redeeming aspect is Surprise trade. Surprise trade is very much like Generation 6 and 7's Wonder Trade (In which you trade a pokemon with a randomly selected player, who will give you one of his pokemon in exchange), however, it allows you to continue playing while waiting for a trade partner, rather than having to wait, doing nothing, while finding a partner. If Game Freak at least make a patch to make finding people for raid easier, I'll be grateful.
I understand the disapointment of the people regarding ''Dexit'' but let's be honest it had to be expected at some point. We are nearing 900 Pokemon (And counting multiple forms, we actually reached 1000) so at one point, there was no way we'd get to keep all of them within one game. At least, when Pokemon Home is released, we will be able to transfer some of our old pals to Sword and Shield, a luxury that only Pokemon have. Compared to other monster Collectors, even those who use the exact same engine between sequels (Digimon World DS > Dawn/Dusk, Digimon Story Cybersleuth > Hacker's Memory, Dragon Quest Monster Joker 1 and 2) didn't allow you to transfer your team over. Personally, I embrased Dexit, as it allows me to try to like new Pokemon I haven't played with before (Beyond just capturing them for Pokedex entries)
Final score: 40/50, or 4/5 by GameFaqs' standards
Product Release: Pokemon Sword (US, 11/15/19)
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