Earlier this week, new gameplay footage for Pokemon Sword and Shield was shown at E3. This footage showcased various additional parts of the game, and included things such as new Pokemon, new gym leaders and new mechanics not seen in previous videos.
It was all fairly minor stuff compared to that in the Directs, but it was nice to see none the less. After all, we got a new Dark/Fairy imp Pokemon and a water specialist gym leader out of the deal here:
— Serebii.net (@SerebiiNet) 11 June 2019
But it wasn’t all positive. Oh no, quite a few bits of highly negative info about the games was revealed during E3 too.
Like the fact that Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves won’t be in Pokemon Sword and Shield at all. That’s annoyed quite a few fans, especially given their focus in the past two generations (and how the previous titles always kept major battle mechanics like this).
Yet that’s nothing compared to the worst of the lot. The one announcement that sent the entire fanbase in a blind rage.
Basically, you can’t transfer many Pokemon from earlier games to Pokemon Sword and Shield.
That’s because in these titles, only those Pokemon found in the Galar Pokedex can be moved from Pokemon Home to Pokemon Sword and Shield. This means only those normally found in the region can be carried forward there, with any others being barred from the experience altogether.
And that’s a huge change for the series. It’s the second time in the history of the franchise when backwards compatibility was dropped in some fashion, and the first time since Pokemon Bank type services were introduced. What’s more, it’s left a lot of uncertainty in regards to exactly what Pokemon are going to be available at all.
That’s because in previous games, the regional dex has included anything from 151 Pokemon to 403 Pokemon, depending on the region in question.
This in turn means we could see anything from 4-700 previously introduced Pokemon species barred from Galar, including all manner of fan favourites and metagame staples.
It’s a huge change, and one that the fanbase have obviously not taken well at all.
Instead, they’ve gone absolutely ballistic over it. Facebook, Twitter and Reddit are filled with calls to boycott the games. Fan forums and sites have blown up with angry posts about how Game Freak has killed the franchise or ruined their love for the series. Hell, even various gaming media sites are calling out on Nintendo and Game Freak on the design decision, as well as why it’s the complete wrong move for the series.
But the controversy doesn’t stop there.
Nope, the reasoning behind the change is because there were ‘too many’ Pokemon to support, with game producer Junichi Masuda saying that setting up 800+ models at HD quality wasn’t reasonable and that it was tough to balance the game.
We already have well over 800 Pokemon species, and there’s going to be more added in these games. And now that they’re on the Nintendo Switch, we’re creating it with much higher fidelity with higher quality animations. But even more than that, it’s coming down to the battle system. We’re making sure we can keep everything balanced and give all the Pokemon that appear in the games a chance to shine.
This would seemingly make sense, except that:
A: The ‘high fidelity animations’ used in Pokemon Sword and Shield are anything but
B: And that game balance has been a bit of a mess ever since the first generation
Yeah, this animation doesn’t look particularly ‘high fidelity’ to us either:
Nor do many of the others from the videos or trailers.
As for balance? This is the series that decided Mewtwo needed to become even more powerful, that Mega Rayquaza should be a thing or that seems to be upping the ante with its legendaries power levels in every installment. The only thing these video games are more balanced than are their own card game.
It’s also a huge emotional gut punch for anyone who stuck by the series too. Remember, these Pokemon are not just data, at least not in the hearts of the series’ players. No, they’re basically virtual pets, or sources of memories from people and adventures long past. Sometimes quite literally actually, since at least a few Twitter users mentioned that they’d kept Pokemon from early games in remembrance of friends and family members who’d passed away.
Not to mention the technical aspects likely don’t add up either. The 3DS titles managed to fit in high resolution 3D models and walking animations for every species of Pokemon in the series, despite many not appearing in the games by default and walking Pokemon not being a mechanic at all. Add this to the Nintendo Switch’s far more powerful hardware and more capable game cards (it can store Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey on these things after all!) and the idea of space being a factor seems dubious.
So the logic doesn’t add up, and both Nintendo and Game Freak are left in a real pickle here. If they don’t let people transfer their favourites over soon enough, then its likely Sword and Shield will see a sales/popularity hit and they’ll receieve even more backlash. On the one hand, if they do delay it, then all the adaptations and merchandising gets thrown out of sync, and the entire generation may need to be pushed back to account for the changes.
It’s a no win situation all round really, and one that looks to overshadow all the good press the games have brought. Let’s hope they find a way to fix things soon.
Still, what are your thoughts on the news? Are you disappointed that many of your favourite Pokemon might not be usable in Pokemon Sword and Shield? What are your feelings on generation 8 seemingly killing a bit of the series’ backwards compatibility overall?
Tell us your thoughts in a comment below or on our social media channels today!