[Preview] Pokemon Sword & Shield

Written by Brett Hill
  • Launch: 15th November 2019
  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Genre: RPG, Adventure
  • Publisher: Nintendo

Still gotta catch ’em all

20 years ago when life was far simpler; when wireless connectivity was a thing of witchcraft and you needed an external light source to play any handheld game, Nintendo released Pokemon Red and Blue in the UK, three years after it was available in the land of the rising sun. This was due to the translation process, an issue that plagued the western world in the 90s. Players were introduced to the original 151 Pokemon and the Kanto region. To complete the Pokedex Pokemon trainers had to own both versions of the game or trade via the high-tech link cable. Two decades later Game Freak and Nintendo are set to unleash the latest offerings Sword and Shield for the Nintendo Switch this November.

When entering the big red doors at Nintendo HQ we were welcomed to a room full of TV screens showing the Pokemon Sword and Shield menu. After taking in the atmosphere and trying to compose myself from the excitement, a Nintendo representative asked the lucky few people present to take a seat, pick up a Pro Controller and jump straight into the playable demo of Sword & Shield. The demo showed off the new and improved battle system by equipping the Pokemon trainer with 6 pokemon and dropping them into a water type gym. The reveal trailer boasted a completely new region called Galar which is apparently inspired by England, resembling the lush green landscape and unique architecture the UK has to offer. Even looking at the map the clock tower resembles Big Ben. Unfortunately, we were unable to explore the new region in the playable demo on the day.

Gym battles and new starters

When entering the gym it felt fresh and new but with a familiar feel, the big room contained platforms at different levels with water cascading from different coloured pipes. The water blocked your path to progress through the room up to the big arena doors, It was time to solve a simple puzzle, the type of puzzle that has been a staple part of the Pokemon series. As you make your way through the aqua maze, Pokemon trainers jumped out to challenge you to a battle. The brawls were definitely in your favour with your party already at LV50 and suspiciously your Pokemon was effective with being able to defeat your foe with a couple of hits. Why would a water type gym send out a Vulpix? It was probably done deliberately for the player to blast through and enjoy the gym.

Your party included the 3 new starter pokemon Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey. In battle, there was the option to press Y to find out more information regarding your own, or the enemies Pokemon. The menu showed stats, moves and a brief description. This was a great feature especially to use on the new Starter pokemon to swat upon their strengths and weaknesses.

To the Dynamax!!

After winning a few trainer battles and solving the puzzle it was time to enter the arena and take on the gym leader Nessa. A huge red button called Dynamax appeared on the display next to the usual Fight, Pokemon and Run options. Dynamax is a new feature for Sword and Shield. When activated your Pokemon, will start to grow and dominate the arena. It will also increase the power and defence of your chosen monster. You can only use it once per battle and will only last for 3 turns so picking the perfect time to use Dynamax will have a massive advantage during the match.

Pokemon Sword and Shield will be released into the wild on November 15th 2019. It’s nearly time to catch them all once again.

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