Pokemon Sword (and Shield) – First impression

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was! – since my childhood and probably also yours. I watched the anime when it released back in the 90s, as well as the Pokemon Movie. The heartbreaking scene when Ash turned into stone and the scene where Mewtwo tells us a valuable lesson for life, how it doesn’t matter being different, are still stucked in my head. With the anime we also got our first and beloved Pokemon game for the Gameboy. And I remember well when all my friends and I got this game and we started our journey. I can’t tell how happy I must have been on this day because when I got my first gym badge I proudly ran to my parents to tell them.

With my friends I used to use the GameBoy Link cable to battle and trade Pokemon and when Pokemon Stadium released, our imagination ran wild what else could there be in the future with better consoles. It was an awesome time and I could talk a lot more about it (but not today). So for me and hopefully for you as well Pokemon is in some way important or at least a good time memory to remember. So sadly that even after more than 20 years we still don’t get what we wished for. But let’s take a look into the newest Pokemon game and start at the beginning.

The first impression (about the first 8 hours)

It all started with the unpacking of the game. When I unvealed the the box of the newest pokemon game I was unsattisfied. For the first time a Pokemon box art lead to an unpleasant feeling, to be more specific, it was the first time at all that an box art was this boring for me. If I would go through a game shop looking out for new games to play, I am sure I wouldn’t buy a game which is on first sight so unappealing – but don’t judge a book by its cover.

So I inserted the cartridge into my Switch, checked if an update is available (no) and started the game. For my surprise there is no game intro, also no starting screen. The game starts without any further doings right away. We get to select our preferd initial character design. For every gender there are four options to start with. The only differs in the skin tone and the haircolor. The final step is to select a name for yourself, sadly there aren’t any to select -which I had preferd!

And with that the game follows its usual script but in a more cinematic way. We get to see the Pokemon World introduction in one of the battle stadiums, which seems to be sold out and shows us with this how much of Pokemon means to the people in Galar region. It gives right away a feeling that Pokemon Battles, are there what Soccer is in Europes or footbal in the United States. It’s not only something you like to watch, its something to celebrate. And the first time in the series it gives you a glimpse of the feeling that the anime gave, when Ash fights in the Pokemon championships. This feeling will manifest a lot more, later on, when you fight for yourself in those stadiums.

Holding Hands

With the introductions end, we start, after a beatuful camera flight, at home with our selected character in a cutscene, which introduce us to our neighborhood friend “Hop” and later rival. Before we can freely do things, you can estimate about two hours of guided story and gameplay introduction. Normaly you go from A to B, have a cutscene and some gameplay feature information. It’s not as bad as it could be, but in those two hours you always think now you can start your adventure and then woosh, next cutscene or gameplay info. At those moments, at least for the gameplay info, I wished there were an option in the beginning to turn those off. At least they ask you in this game if you know about the feature or not, so you can partial skip it.

Technical and Design issues

Exploring the world reveals that most of the game is linear, with exeption of the Wild Area. While the game looks good in resolution on the TV, in handheld mode it couldn’t hold the 720p outside of battles and closed rooms. So you get a blurry image, while exploring. While the liniarity doesn’t really botherd me so far (sure I truly wished for more open world), but the blurry image does.

Every Route so far wasn’t quite graphical astonishing as I wished they would. For a game with a fixed camera I have expected more, luckily there are the towns. As beautiful as they are in their design, most of the time they are shallow. You don’t have the posibillity to freely explore all of it and the parts you can, are often just copy pasted rooms without any diffrences besides the NPC. While you could investigate certain objects in your hometown, later on this feature isn’t present anywhere most of the time. You can’t even investigate the trash bins. I truely love to search for hidden items and with this option removed, it takes some of my exploration fun in this game. Which is bad, since it has not much of an exploration at all for a 3D game.

The most exploreable place is the Wild Area. Pokemon are roaming around, the camera is freely controlable and also some kind of danger ist present, because you might run into Pokemons far stronger than you. The game itself sure is way to easy ( at least until gym number 2, where I am currently). You get healed nonstop and items seems to be like waste for NPC. They throw it at you like they are billionaires. Also with 30000 pokedollar your starting capital is way to high.

Last words

So far the game is fun with all its flaws and problems. But it seems way to easy and the technical side is also a point they have to adress. Hopefully with a patch and not with a new version to buy next year.

Thats it for now. On a later date a more detailed Review will follow.


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