Berry Game Review: Pokemon Sword and Shield -
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Originally published in the December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

Berry Game Review: Pokemon Sword and Shield

Pokemon is one of those franchises which will never go away, not without Game Freak and The Pokemon Company doing serious and repeated harm to the series. Despite the internet backlash against the newest installments, Pokemon Sword and Shield are solid entries in the series, ones which can be enjoyed even through a few minor issues.

Sword and Shield each have a few Pokemon exclusive to that version. This means that you can catch a small number of Pokemon only on Sword or Shield, or trade with someone who has that version. This new generation, the eighth generation, adds 83 new Pokemon, bringing the total up to just under 900 in total. On the whole, these new designs are adorable, oozing charm and will make you wish you had one of them as a pet. Wooloo and Yamper are a few of the fan favorites so far.

The addition of new Pokemon and removal of existing ones has caused much of the internet controversy. Game Freak, the longtime developers of the games, did not bring all previous Pokemon into this newest game, which has previously been the standard for all their games. They removed roughly half of all Pokemon in this one, making them unavailable for capture or trade. Many people online were upset that their favorite Pokemon did not make the cut. Regrettably, the game also has visuals beneath what would be expected of Switch hardware, especially compared to other big releases on the platform.

These matters aside, I did have a ton of fun playing through most of the game, fighting the gym leaders and obtaining badges. One of the new features of the game, the inclusion of wild areas, allows for free roaming around a smallish area of the Galar region. Within this area Dynamax Pokemon, creatures which grow in size and power, can be caught with the assistance of up to three other players. These battles were fun, and required a slightly different mindset when approaching battles and general strategy.

Additionally, there is the introduction of camps and the Currydex. Camps are locations in the game where other players have set up a tent which you can visit, play with their Pokemon, and cook curry—the national dish for the region. These extras weren't as exciting to me as the free-roaming areas, which give a glimpse as to what a fully open world Pokemon game could be. It makes me excited to see more of what will come next for the franchise, more than I've been since nearly its inception with the addition of both the Johto and Kanto regions being playable in Pokemon Gold and Silver.

The game has been streamlined to a sheen, with the convenience of switching Pokemon from your party at any time and being able to visit past locations without the need for special moves being at the top of the list of improvements. These are welcome quality of life features which make the game easier to play without reducing any of the challenge.

Even with the few issues of graphical fidelity and the lack of the full Pokedex in Sword and Shield, I would highly recommend this game to anyone new to the series, as well as those who had taken a break from it, and long-standing fans. The new features and the design of the environment are treats for all and the new Pokemon bring more than enough to the table for fans to be satisfied.

December 2019 Juniper Berry Magazine

December 2019 Table of Contents