Released on February 27th, the 8th generation of the Pokemon game series has just been revealed. Set to release in late 2019, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield is due to be the first mainline game on the convertible home and portable console Nintendo Switch. It’s been three years since the last generation released with Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, and two since their sequels.
The release isn’t just because everything is ready to show the public. The 27th of February is “Pokemon Day”, the anniversary of the initial release of the very first games in 1996. Twenty-three years and up until now twenty-nine mainline games later, developer Game Freak and Nintendo gave us the first looks at the next two games.
We don’t know all that much thus far, but here’s what we do know. The games are set in the Galar Region, which seems to be designed as an industrial revolution era London, complete with a version of a large clocktower. Gyms are returning after their one generation break during Sun and Moon, as we see the character enter one, as well as entering a what looks to be a soccer stadium.
Random encounters and trainer battles are also returning, unlike the last Switch based Pokemon game Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Other than the three starters, no new Pokemon were revealed, but a good number of favorites from past games are returning, like Pikachu, Grubbin, Walimer, Tyranitar, Lucario, and Flygon.
Like other games in the past, there are three starters you pick at the start of the game. The fire starter is the first we see, Scorbunny, a rabbit who leaves burned hop-prints in its wake. Next is the water type, Sobble, which is a shy chameleon-like creature that can blend into the world around it. Finally, the grass starter, the monkey Grookey, who bangs a rock with a stick before climbing a building.
What don’t we know? Will the new games be compatible with older games, primarily with the online service Pokemon Bank? Since the side application was launched, this paid service has been used by pokemon fans to save their captures between games and editions. Will players, who at least in the United States pay $5 a year for access to this service, be able to continue to use it, and move their pokemon to the new games, or are all their pokemon trapped in an earlier generation of console?
Furthermore, how many new pokemon will be added to the canon with Sword and Shield? There were only eighty new pokemon in the last generation of games, not including alternate forms, and seventy-two in the one before that. Will we see another decline in new additions, or can we expect some new versions of things we love? How many new pokemon will be evolutions or baby forms of other pre-existing pokemon? What are the differences between Sword and Shield?
Questions aside, there is much to be excited for. Not only is this the first main Pokemon game for the Switch, it’s the first one where we would be able to play it not only on a small screened portable console. but on a television as well. How would this alter gameplay, and how would playing between games be altered? If anyone, like myself, were holding off on purchasing a Switch, later this year is yet another reason to pull the trigger.
If Nintendo follows the common track with their Pokemon release dates, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will hit stores in late October or November of this year, barring any delays. I, for one, am thrilled to see that the Pokemon series will continue onto Nintendo’s new console, and will be purchasing one posthaste. When pre-sales of the new games begin, presumably once more information about what the differences between the games are, I will be signing up for that as well.
David Castro is a Puerto Rican writer from New York City. He has worked on the upcoming Undead supplement for Chill Third Edition and is working on launching a Patreon. You can find him on Twitter (@theinkedknight), on Tumblr (thedevilsyouknew), on Facebook (facebook.com/inkstainedstudios), and at davidrcastro.com.