Pokemon Sword and Shield – Is it time to let go?

By Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)

I recently found a selection of my old Pokémon trading cards. It was after going to watch the newly released Detective Pikachu film that I thought to dig the cards out, more for a sense of nostalgia than anything else. Despite putting the cards into storage long ago, I have continued to buy and play various Pokémon video games with varying success over the years.

I say varying success because beyond the first three generations of Pokémon or so, I began to lose interest in the actual characters and only really played because I liked reliving the sense of adventure that I first got playing Pokémon Red, Yellow and Blue on my Gameboy Colour.

Having not long bought a Nintendo Switch, and along with it Let’s Go: Pikachu, I was pretty excited to learn that Nintendo were planning to release a more traditional style Pokémon game where players would have to grind their way to the top battling wild pocket monsters along the way. For me, the ‘Let’s Go’ games just didn’t live up to this and were much more about showing off some of the Nintendo Switch capabilities and how it could link in with Pokémon Go on mobile devices.

Fast forward to a few days ago when we all learned the same devastating news at this year’s E3 conference: Pokémon Sword and Shield will only allow transfers of Pokémon native to the Galar region into the Pokédex.

This has caused a lot of controversy online with people saying it ruins the game and what they worked towards over the last 15 years or so and that they won’t buy the game if this is the case. I’ve even seen some comments effectively saying the game will have poor ratings and sales because of this.

Maybe there is some truth to this, but maybe, we have to remember what Pokémon has always been about and ultimately who it’s aimed at. As I mentioned, I started playing Pokémon games around the time of Red, Blue and Yellow, which all released around 20 years ago in the UK making me under 10 years old.

Rather than thinking as Sword and Shield as games that all of the die-hard fans have to play and therefore want their Pokémon history proudly following them, we should consider the younger generations who still find the Pokémon games as magic as we all did and to them, the current Pokémon generations are the ones that they have grown up with and want to play.

At the end of the day, Pokémon is an adventure game that anyone should be able to enjoy regardless of the characters in the game. It’s okay to be against the idea but there are still many who will be new to Pokémon games and will go and out and buy the game and will likely love it, and that’s a good thing.

Personally, I’m not sure whether I’ll buy it or not, it’s more likely to be the reviews and gameplay that sway me rather than the characters and can and can’t carry over to the new game. For me, there is actually something quite nice about starting fresh on the Switch console and seeing how a new generation of Pokémon gaming plays out.

I’m always happy to be wrong but if you feel that strongly about the decisions that the Pokémon development team have taken, maybe it’s time to let go.

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