Pokémon Sword and Shield news next month

This November, Pokémon Sword and Shield will introduce a whole gaggle of new pocket monsters to befriend and capture. Unfortunately, the foray into Pokémon’s eighth generation hit a snag this past E3; Pokémon Home can’t transfer every Pokémon ever conceived into Sword and Shield. Fan excitement turned into fan fury overnight, with movements like #BringBackNationalDex overtaking Pokémon social media.

The Pokémon Company did share a statement from series producer Junichi Masuda, but furor still refuses to die down. That said, further details from last month’s Famitsu feature are making rounds online; this follows a Reddit thread by u/BrokenWho, quoting Comicbook.com’s “A Wild Podcast Has Appeared.”

A National Dex balancing act

According to CB, it all stemmed from shifting development from the Nintendo 3DS to the Switch. The 1000+ Pokémon models made between X and to Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were all made for less powerful hardware with lower resolutions and framerates. This is all on top of balancing newer Pokémon, Abilities, moves, and mechanics; even porting every Pokémon into Sun and Moon was a feat Game Freak barely managed to accomplish.

Though they appear the same, returning Pokémon for Sword and Shield had their assets remade from scratch. However, the full extent or reasoning of which is currently unknown, as is whether Dynamaxed Pokémon required new models and animations, clarified Serebii’s Joe Merrick.

While you can’t import every past Pokémon into Galar, Game Freak seeks to mitigate the issue in the long run with Pokémon Home. Older Pokémon may vary in games going forward depending on how they fit a given region, and so that they each have time to shine. On that note, Game Freak is allegedly considering additional gameplay features besides trading in Pokémon Home, but this remains unconfirmed.

Sure, a delay would help, but remain ultimately unfeasible for the Pokémon brand. Nintendo occasionally delays games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Animal Crossing: New Horizons without real consequence; that same luxury unfortunately is not extended to the Pokémon games. With Pokémon being the most lucrative intellectual property on the planet, delaying Pokémon Sword and Shield would also mean delaying anime production and a whole host of new merchandise, including the Trading Card Game, toys, apparel, and so on.

Back to the drawing board?

Game Freak

While some gamers are pointing fingers at Town (working title) for splitting up Game Freak’s team of 143 full-time staff, the studio handling multiple projects at once is nothing new. Game Freak often develops multiple Pokémon games simultaneously, as new mainline Pokémon RPGs drop on a near-yearly basis. If you take a look at the credits of any Pokémon game, you’ll also notice the names for a litany of freelancers, contractors, and other co-developers like Creatures Inc. and Nintendo localizers. Pokémon aside, Town is far from Game Freak’s first non-Pocket Monster venture. Drill Dozer, HarmoKnight, Tembo the Badass Elephant, and even this year’s Giga Wrecker Alt all come to mind.

I can’t help but empathize with Game Freak at the end of the day; it isn’t easy juggling enormous pressure from The Pokémon Company above, and fans’ high expectations below. Hell, dealing with the ensuing backlash following the National Dex in Sword and Shield even now definitely isn’t an enviable position to be in. Whether or not The Pokémon Company or Game Freak’s priorities are skewed is up for interpretation, but regardless of one’s stance, we certainly can’t accuse a game developer for “laziness” of all things.

But hey. At the very least, we will always have hilarious memes to help soothe the soul!

Speaking for myself, I’ve long since swallowed this bitter pill and made peace with it. What do you make of Pokémon Sword and Shield now, vis-à-vis the National Dex? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Jeffrey McDonell
Rare import from Canada, lover of all things video game music and remixes, desk jockey by day, and Nintendo Enthusiast by night. I grew up on Nintendo consoles since the Game Boy Advance and GameCube, with standouts like Sonic, Mario, and Zelda defining my childhood.

    11 Comments

    1. While I’m not up in arms about the whole thing, this is seems like a pretty dumb idea. If they really did remake the models from scratch, they certainly don’t look any more complex than those on the 3ds. Better textures sure, but they shouldn’t have redrawn and rerigged 450+ perfectly good models.

    2. I don’t see the issue here. It levels the playing field, making everyone start from scratch. It’s good to go back to the basics. The starters look okay, save for looking like remakes of previous pokemon. We’ve had a monkey starter already, Chimchar. The rabbit looks like a recolor of the rock type rabbit, and didn’t we just have a frog starter?

      (I have trouble with recalling names.?)

      1. That’s been annoying since gen 2. They keep making knock offs of their own OC for the sake of yearly merchandise sales.
        They want a “new direction” they should switch up the starter recipe for one thing, and maybe make overall less echos per generation.

    3. New models don’t look that much different from old ones, and their animations aren’t that much of an improvement. As for the whole balancing perspective, that shouldn’t matter at all for regular gameplay. That only really matters for VGC and in that case, they can always specify which pokemon are allowed in the VGC. Culling the pokedex won’t make the pokemon left viable. Whether or not there are 1000 pokemon or 200, the meta will settle on about 30 pokemon give or take. Some pokemon are just not good enough to see competitive play be it with underwhelming stats, or undesirable movepool, not every pokemon will be viable and if they think it should, they’re delusional at best.

      Players who have been building up their collection over the years have gotten the choice to play with the pokemon they like taken away from them by the culling because of the lousy decision to cull the pokedex. Manpower should not be an issue for one of the if not biggest franchise in the world. This is just them cutting corners and releasing an incomplete game at full price because fans who have grown to love the franchise will have to buy it anyway to keep up.

    4. Then they wasted their time

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    5. What a terrible excuse. They remade all of the old Pokemon from scratch, but all of the models and animations look nearly the exact same? So they’re either telling the truth and incompetent, or they’re lying and throwing out more excuses hoping one of them sticks.

    6. They shouldn’t have made Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee because then they would of had more time to work on making Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield

    7. I’m still not buying any of this. I’m not paying $60 for a game that still looks like a 3DS game yet still has performance issues (as we’ve seen from some of the trailers) AND cuts out content without improving the core mechanics or animations, particularly the overworld NPC animations which still look like shit. Don’t care for Dynamaxing, didn’t like Z-moves, didn’t enjoy Gen 7 overall outside the Pokemon designs overall and now the constant excuses. I remember when they lied to us and said the washed out color palettes used for X/Y was meant to better emulate Sugimori’s original art, but that was quickly proven wrong by modder comparisons. Balance has literally never mattered otherwise Mega Legendaries, Parental Bond, Ash-Greninja, Z-moves and a million other things wouldn’t exist. Doubt Dynamaxing will offer anything other than more OP shit but with a timer. I’d greatly appreciate if Home had some functionality like Amie, Minigames or Battling/Trading in some capacity, but I doubt it’s gonna happen. So far Sw/Sh just seems to have too many of the same problems I had with X/Y/Su/Mo and I hate watching something I love not strive to be its best. Or even improve.
      This isn’t even about the National Dex for me anymore, it’s about stagnation, lame excuses and apparent unwillingness or inability to improve.

      1. Word, exactly. The national dex was just the tip of the iceberg.

    8. Maybe not lazy, but what lackluster animations to be so proud of then.
      They’re soooo much better being slightly sharper but moving exactly the same as the last game.
      Even stadium did better battle animations, come on.

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