First off, happy belated New Year and happy early Chinese New Year!! I forgot to do one of those end of the year posts but let’s be real, I didn’t do jack shit on this blog so it was a moot point anyways.
So I’ve had Pokemon Sword for quite a while now. I got it only a few days after release. This post has been a long time coming and has been sitting in my drafts for ages. Will I ever post a full game review on this blog? Maybe someday, BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY.
Anyways, as for why it’s taken so long for me to even drag this ‘first impressions’ post out of drafts… well, work has been an absolute shit show for a while now and I’ve been really stressed. You ever get to the point where you come home from work and you’re so emotionally and mentally exhausted from work that you don’t even have the energy to play your favorite hobbies, the hobbies that normally cheer you up?
Yeah, that’s been me.
I’ve mostly been binge reading c-novels as they’re a bit more mindless for me to go through rather than playing video games. As a result, my backlog has just piled up and this is just one of like ten drafts I have sitting around. ^q^
But it’s fine!! Work is still a shit show but at this point I’m like WHO CARES. I took some time off to basically decompress and just readjust my head and it’s been great. I finally started BUSTAFELLOWS (which got shoved to the side cause of all this work BS) and I finally got back into Pokemon Sword so yeah.
JUST A NOTE: If at some point I say Pokemon Shield, I mean Pokemon Sword. For some reason I keep typing shield instead of sword, which I don’t know why since I had no interest in shield but I keep typing it?? Basically, just ignore it if you see it and imagine the word Sword is there instead. ^q^
Anyways, spoilers (? I guess?) ahead but probably not that many.
To start out, I’m personally a big Pokemon fan but I wasn’t too excited for Sword when it first came out. Honestly I thought the legendary Pokemon were kind of lame looking (esp Shield cough) and I wasn’t that impressed with some of the videos I’d seen of the different areas.
When it got announced, I was still living abroad and I never kept up with any of the news save for the stray new Pokemon announcement here and there. No joke, I thought Sir Fetch’d was a joke.
All I really knew was that the dex got cut and people were angry about animations on twitter. But whatever, people are angry about everything these days so I really didn’t give a shit.
Well after release I saw all these posts on Twitter and the like about the game and ended up getting the game pretty early compared to when I originally was planning on buying it. I’d already been set on Sword since the announcement because the Sword legendary is way cooler than the Shield legendary and nobody can convince me otherwise.
Story, Setting & Characters 📖
Pokemon Sword & Shield are based in the region of “Galar” which is based on/inspired by Great Britain. As usual, it features character customization similar to the previous games as well as a host of new Pokemon and old Pokemon from previous titles.
The Galar region is unique from the other regions in that in it’s storyline, mega evolution doesn’t exist, because instead Dynamax replaces mega evolution. “Wishing Stars” inserted into Dynamax Bands allow trainers to Dynamax their Pokemon. Wishing Stars and the Dynamax phenomenon has it’s own back story that ties into the general story of the Galar Region. So far, what I know of the story and background is that two heroes saw a Wishing Star, soon after a disaster befell the land and they took up a sword and a shield to protect their home. Then, they were crowned kings – however, statues of the hero depict only one hero wielding both the sword and shield, not two heroes. Dynamax and Wishing Stars are still strange phenomenon that aren’t completely understood.
In terms of story line, I haven’t gotten that far in. To be honest, I only just finished fighting the fourth gym in Sword which is the Fighting Gym so… I’m pretty slow in terms of main story line.
But the story line isn’t too different from what you’d expect of a Pokemon game. President Rose, the chairman of like the biggest monopoly in Galar, helps host the “Gym Challenge” where endorsed trainers can fight the gym leaders in Galar to earn badges and get a shot at becoming Champion.
Right now Leon is considered the “unbeatable” champion and hasn’t lost to anyone yet. Leon is the older brother of the player character’s rival, Hop, and is the one who endorses the player as well as Hop on the Gym Challenge.
There are two other rivals – Marnie, who is endorsed by idk who / can’t remember who, and Bede, a stuck up prick with weird ass hair and an ugly sense of fashion who is endorsed by Chairman Rose.
The main “antagonist” is Team Yell, a group of fanatics who follow Marnie around and cheer for her. But hmm, is there something more suspicious going on behind Team Yell? Probably. And is Chairman Rose probably a corrupt crazy old man? PROBABLY.
I mean, isn’t that kind of how it usually goes in Pokemon games? The only one that wasn’t a crazy dude who owned a huge mega corporation was the chairman of Devon corp, but he like. Barely existed in the games lmao.
Anyways the story is pretty standard stuff. I’m sure there’s more interesting twists underneath it all, but seeing as how I just finished the fourth gym lmao well…. I wouldn’t know. ^q^
Gameplay & Mechanics 🎮
New to the game (like mega evolution in the previous games etc.) is the Dynamax/Gigantamax mechanic. I honestly thought this was pretty stupid the first time I saw it but it’s actually a lot of fun and I enjoy it more than I expected I would! It also has a somewhat interesting backstory so far that I feel like mega evolution didn’t really have? Did mega evolution even have a back story? I actually can’t remember.
Along with Dynamax/Gigantamax are Max Raids. In the Wild Area, you’ll see a lot of like rock circle formations that glow red which are known as dens. The ones without a beam coming out of them usually give you 50 Watts. Those with beams coming out of them give you more Watts and also allow you to join a Max Raid.
Max Raids are comprised of your player character and three other trainers or three NPCs. The more stars the raid, the harder it is to beat. Catching these pokemon gives you an advantage in terms of Dynamaxing. All Pokemon have “Dynamax levels” and the higher it is, the higher their HP when they Dynamax. I think it might give you more benefits too but I’m not entirely aware. You can level a Pokemon’s Dynamax Level by feeding it Dynamax Level candies that are mostly gained through Max Raids.
Beating and catching Pokemon from Max Raids gives you a bunch of items too – berries and candies and the TRs which are basically TMs except they can break.
Watts can be used to purchase TRs as well as certain types of Pokeballs and Wishing Stars. Random NPCs in the wild area will also trade you Watts for whatever they’re holding.
Wild Areas in Pokemon Sword & Shield are just open spaces where Pokemon will pop out of the wild grasses, and random strong Pokemon wander around certain areas and will chase after you if they see you.
Also included in Wild Areas are berry trees that you can shake to get berries (but sometimes a Pokemon will fall out and fight you) and finally you can fish in the water front areas as well as search and find items laying around on the ground.
Trees and hidden items refresh every day so it’s pretty easy to make money in this game by gathering items and selling them at the Pokemart! Which is good because I need a lot of money to afford fashion in this game.
Pokemon who appear on the map and outside of the grassy areas tend to be much higher in level compared to your current team, and they’re also quite strong.
Also new is the inability to catch Pokemon over a certain level until you gather more badges. At three badges, Pokemon up to level 50 will obey the trainer and you can’t catch Pokemon over the level of 35. It’s kind of annoying that the catching level cap remains so low at three badges and only increases by like 5 or so I think every badge you get, but I guess it hasn’t been to detrimental to me to be frank.
Biking is obviously still a thing, only this time Rotom is connected to the bike and will charge the bike to let you ride really fast for a brief period of time. The bike will recharge after a while.
Also new (or I suppose replacing old systems from previous titles) is camping. When you set up a tent to camp with your Pokemon team, you can interact with them by calling for them, talking to them and playing with toys. Playing with toys with your Pokemon will increase the exp they receive at the end of camping and also increase their affection for you. You can also customize your camping tent’s color by talking to the camping dude. He’ll change the color of the tent to match whichever color type your lead Pokemon is. So basically, if you have Sylveon as your lead Pokemon, he’ll change the tent color to Fairy’s color which is pink. Of course, you can veto this as well.
And of course… when you set up camp, you can also cook!
Cooking curry is the new mini-game in Pokemon Sword & Shield. I guess it’s kind of similar in theory to making poke blocks or poke puffs for your Pokemon, but it’s a bit more “mini-game-y” compared to previous things in my opinion.
There is a curry dex you can fill out by making different kinds of curry. Curry is consisted of one main ingredient that you can buy from vendors in the Wild Area or found laying around on the ground, and then berries determine what kind of “flavor” the curry will have (spicy, dry, bitter, sweet, etc.).
As you continue to make new curries, you can talk to the camping dude to “rate your curry dex” and as you make more curries, he gives you toys and rewards that you can use while camping. Curries have a “rating” and the higher the rating the more benefits you and your Pokemon will receive. Getting a high rating usually depends on rare berries and completing the mini-game perfectly/well.
Other than that, your usual Pokemon mechanics apply. You fight wild Pokemon to either capture them or gain EXP, trainers are scattered on the different routes, and you occasionally have to fight Team Yell to progress in the story.
And, as usual, there’s your rival(s) who are also partaking in the Gym Challenge. You fight Hop the most frequently obviously as he is the “main” rival. Battles with your rivals are a bit more dramatic now, with cut-ins whenever in response to the battle.
Gym battles, though, are probably the most dramatic change. In Ultra Sun the gym matches felt a bit more like matches with people spectating, but gym battles in Pokemon Sword are a whole different playing field.
First off, they take place in humongous stadiums with people cheering in the stadiums. You enter the stadium in a uniform and the cheering intensifies as the battle goes on. It’s pretty fun actually – better than before, where it felt like you were beating some dude’s ass in the back room of a building. 😬
Final Thoughts 📝
Honestly, overall, I can say that I enjoy the game way more than I thought I would. I’ve played pretty much every main Pokemon game starting from the GBC/GBA area, I’ve played a lot of the spin-off games, and I remember eating my cereal on Saturday mornings and watching Pokemon on the couch. The series holds a nostalgic place in my heart, sort of like the Starry Sky series which was one of the first otome games series I ever played that really got me into otome games.
Ultra Sun was the last Pokemon game I played that I really, really loved. I spent an entire week getting out of classes and just playing ultra sun to completion in all my spare time. Although I don’t love Pokemon Sword nearly as much as Ultra Sun, I actually like it way more than expected.
The thing that’s really scratching the itches for me are definitely camping with my Pokemon, curry making (insanely enough – I thought this was the stupidest mini game until I actually started playing around with it!) and hunting for items in the Wild Areas.
I’m like, a huge hoarder so being able to run around every day and pick up items in the Wild Area is actually one of my favorite parts about Pokemon Sword, weirdly enough LOL. I also have fun going by the Wild Area every day just to pick berries and buy ingredients from the vendor so I can make curry with my Pokemon.
That being said, there’s nothing quite like running around a Wild Area only for a Steelix to suddenly pop out of the ground and smack right into you.
I swear I spend more time hunting for items/berries and making curry with my Pokemon than I do anything else. Other than the lack of time, this obsession with hoarding is also the reason why I am so slow at getting through the story line lmao.
I thought the curry mini game would be kind of stupid at first, but the mini game is kind of fun and making the different curries is also quite amusing. It’s also great because if my Pokemon have taken quite a beating, I can make curry to replenish their HP, remove status effects, and increase their friendliness for me.
Camping is definitely one of the biggest highlights of the game for me. It’s fun watching Pokemon interact when you’re camping. They’ll talk to each other and race each other. It’s insanely adorable lol ESPECIALLY PIKACHU. If you’ve played Let’s Go Pikachu, when you play with your pikachu it’ll do stuff like dance around and rub it’s face and stuff and of course in SwSh your pika pal also does this whenever they are playing in the camping area and GOD DAMN IT’S SO ADORABLE. Pikachu is one of my favorite Pokemon next to Sylveon so yeah those two are pretty much always in my party if I can help it haha.
Of course, the Gym Challenge is also a ton of fun. The crowds reacting to the fight and the cheering intensifying as the match goes on really hypes you up. I got way more into the gym battles due to this and it kind of surprised me afterwards. I honestly also underestimated how strong Dynamaxed Pokemon would be in gym matches and I’ve gotten my ass almost annihilated because of it lol. Also underestimated how useful raising a Pokemon’s Dynamax Level is as well rip me.
I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m seriously surprised I’ve enjoyed most of the new parts they added to the series as I kind of expected to… hate them all. LOL I thought Dynamax and curry making was so stupid at first but whelp I’m actually enjoying both a lot so jokes on me!!
Of course, all that being said, there are still some gripes I have with the game.
First off, I almost wish that they would just have all the Pokemon have voices like Pikachu and Eevee. Pikachu and Eevee are the only two that go pika pika and vui vui which is really, really cute, but like kinda weird when everyone else is some strange robotic cry from hell. I kind of dislike the contrast, but I guess if they added in official voices for every Pokemon the games the game size would be enormous lol.
Secondly, the dex cuts were kind of annoying. I’m pretty disappointed because I’m pretty sure Dragonite got cut from the dex? But they let… like… that weird pink bean Pokemon Munna in the dex? Why. I’d rather have Dragonite lol. THAT BEING SAID… with the new DLC expansion packs releasing, they’re also adding in (foh free) 200 more pokemon, some of which were previous generation Pokemon so hopefully they’ll add in Dragonite because I’d really love to have my token Dragonite in my team ^q^
And finally… I really, really, really wish there was voice acting.
When I first booted up the game it immediately goes into this dramatic cutscene where President Rose or whatever is talking about the world of Pokemon and it’s this really grand thing in a big stadium with tons of people and all I could think about was “man where is the voice acting?”
It’s kind of jarring because everything else I’ve been playing on Switch has voice acting, and to suddenly go to a game where there’s 0 voice acting except for two pokemon and for the chanting crowds during gym battles… well, it’s just kind of weird.
I honestly forgot that Pokemon games don’t traditionally feature voice acting. I sort of just always expect voice acting now in the bigger games that I was actually shocked when there wasn’t any. Even the Digimon games have voice acting, which is basically Pokemon’s official “rival” so I’m curious as to why they didn’t add voice acting in.
I guess no voice acting has always been the status quo but they broke status quo with no complete national dex this time around so I’m not quite sure why they wouldn’t break it again by adding in voice acting. I can live without it, but I hope future games will get it.
Anyways those are my general impressions on Pokemon Sword! Hopefully the game will keep it’s momentum as I continue through it and I won’t get tired out like I did in Black & White 2 lmao.
I’m currently playing this in between BUSTAFELLOWS (which I am loving, by the way) but I think my next post will likely be a c-novel review and then BUSTAFELLOWS, but don’t take that as a promise lmao. I swear, some day I’ll start posting about otome games again LOL.
Anyways, thanks for reading!