I wanted to be the very best, like no one ever was…

To catch them was my real test, to train them was my cause…

I travelled across Galar, searching far and wide…

For Pokémon , to understand, the power that’s inside…

Pokémon!


This year, we received the first mainline Pokemon game on the Nintendo Switch in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Like every other Pokémon master, I based my choice solely on how cool the Pokémon on the cover art looked.

After a long debate, I decided on Pokémon Sword along with the new legendary Pokémon, Zacian. There is no bad blood if you went with Shield and that Pokémon, Zamazenta.

I am not a Pokémon expert by no means. I enjoy playing the games, exploring the areas and knowing that I am becoming a Pokémon master after each iteration of this franchise.

But it was with Pokémon Sword that I believe I grew the most as a trainer.

Gameplay

The best thing about Pokémon is that you never forget how to play.

You battle Pokémon, catch them, train them so they get big and strong. Travel to different towns/cities to battle other trainers until you build yourself up enough to take on that towns Gym Leader. You beat all the Gym Leaders, earning their badges, then you take on the Elite 4. Once you finish the Elite 4, you are then the Pokémon Champion.

The famous formula doesn’t change its core but each game will add its own feature to set it apart from the ones that came before it.

This game slightly changes how you become the Pokémon champion. You do travel to earn the Gym Badges, but instead of a straight up Elite 4, you re-battle a few of the previous Gym Trainers before you go up against the Galar Region Champion.

Each Pokémon game also introduces its own special feature. For Pokémon Sword/Shield, it was Dynamaxing.

Dynamaxing is due to an abundance of energy sprouting out of Galar. All Pokémon can Dynamax, but you need a special wristband that collects the energy to use the ability in battle.

When used in battle, your Pokémon will be gigantic, its health would increase, and it looks SO FREAKING COOL!

You have the ability to Dynamax probably once per battle and it lasts a handful of turns. Other trainers are allowed to Dynamax as well, but they will likely use that ability when it comes down to their last active Pokemon, so I recommend saving the Dynamax til the very end. (Especially for the Gym Leaders!)

Story

I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t remember the story to any of the Pokémon games. It isn’t the reason I play the games, and I don’t pay attention to the stories when I do play it.

That all changed with Sword/Shield.

This is due to the fascinating Galar region. Inspired by Great Britain, Galar features different terrains and several buildings that are very similar to landmarks you would find in GB.

Ran by Chairman Rose, the Galar region has a rich history.

The two Pokémon mentioned before, Zacian and Zamazenta, are part of the regions lore because they saved Galar from the Darkest Day back in the ancient times.

The power that is being emitted from the ground is what causes dynamaxing, and when it isn’t controlled, it causes Pokémon to Dynamax without a trainer. (Which is NOT GOOD)

Chairman Rose wants to take that energy and power the city with it, but to do so, he needs to awaken the Pokémon Eternatus. Rose wants to harness the power of Eternatus so the power can go to the region of Galar but Eternatus cannot be controlled.

Over the course of the game, you slowly learned more about the ancient times and how the two legendary Pokémon saved the region. Both of them are symbolized by a sword and shield.

In an area right next to your home (how convenient) is the Slumbering Weald, this is where the two legendary Pokémon went to rest. Settled right on a shrine is a rustic sword and shield.

In order to defeat Eternatus, you and your rival, Hop, lift up the Sword and Shield to summon the two legendary Pokémon. The two of them arrive and help you take down Eternatus.

Just like every Harry Potter movie, somehow it is up to you to save the day. They have researches and scientists that can probably figure out another solution, but they decided on a 10 year old child who just happens to be a Pokémon prophecy to save the Galar region.

This is the main story that will take you all the way to the end of the game when you become the Champion of the Galar Region. It is the post-game content that took me by surprise, which I really enjoyed.

Post-Game

Once you become Champion, you and Hop return the sword and shield back to the shrine. They are taken right back by Sordward and Shielbert who are descendants of the Galar royal family.

They run off with the items and start causing destruction around Galar. Pokémon are dynamaxing everywhere and it is out of control. It is, of course, up to you to go to each Gym in Galar to defeat the Dynamaxing Pokémon so they can go back to normal.

This post-game content added probably an extra hour or two to the game. When I play a game, I usually beat the story, credits roll, and I’m out. This time was different. I felt more invested in the history of Galar and wanted to put an end to the craziness that was occurring over the timeline in my game.

One part of the game that was introduced early on is the Wild Area. It is here that you are able to explore the different weathered sections, and catch Pokémon.

Earlier in the game, you might have trouble battling certain Pokémon since they will be stronger than you, and you may not be able to catch and train them based on how many gym badges you possess.

Once you are in the post-game, you can go back to the area and fill up your Pokédex now that you can catch and train all levels of Pokémon.

Final Thoughts

Playing Pokémon is always a good time.

Whether it’s exploring the new region, catching the new Pokémon in the world, or taking down the Gym leaders, you know what to expect when you play the game and it is exactly why you keep coming back for each entry.

This game is exactly that. It is the same game that you’ve loved for over 20 years and it adds new exciting features like Dynamaxing to keep the game fresh and fun.

Pokémon Sword/Shield may be my favorite Pokémon game that I’ve played in a while. Even though I have completed the story, I will keep exploring Galar and see if I can complete my Pokédex.

Pokémon Sword/Shield is…

Good!