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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Generation 8 and the Galar Region: The February 2019 Pokémon Direct

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I thought we'd get useless information.

It turns out that Pokémon Day is worth more than just making the latest Pokémon movie available for free through official means. No, going back to at least 2016, it's also used for announcing a brand new Pokémon generation through an utterly short and inconsequential trailer.

Pokémon Direct February 27 2019 teaser
Roughly 7 minutes of new information?
With three Poké Balls? Perhaps representing three starter Pokémon?

Pokémon Generation 8—the next mainline Pokémon RPG for the Nintendo Switch—is supposed to release at the end of 2019. It would make a lot of sense for it to now be revealed through a trailer.

Everything (besides the trailer embed) before this sentence was written the night before the February 27 Pokémon Direct. Since then, it became clear that I'm right, and not only was Generation 8 revealed, but so was the new region and the three new starter Pokémon! It turns out that the three Poké Balls really were meaningful.

Here they are:

Pokémon Generation 8 starters Grookey Scorbunny Sobble official art
Grookey, the Grass type Chimp Pokémon.
Scorbunny, the Fire type Rabbit Pokémon.
Sobble, the Water type Water Lizard Pokémon.

Back when Generation 7's Alola starters were announced, I was on Team Rowlet. Rawk was on Team Popplio. Kamek was on Team Litten.

This time, I immediately identify with Grookey. Rawk is a firm Sobble supporter. Kamek wasn't available at the time of writing, though. [Update March 5: Kamek votes for Grookey.] Speaking for myself, I've had a clear Grass-type bias for a long time now.

I actually thought Scorbunny was a Meowth when we just saw its legs. Got scared it would be “Pokémon: Let's Go, Meowth!” or something.

I was expecting a lot less from this Direct, in terms of my mood. I watched it way after it premiered, though without any spoilers. Let's just say I had a less-than-ideal day at work, and I was totally ready to rip apart the Direct. But it was Generation 8 as I thought it would be, and there weren't any glaring red flags in the Direct. Besides this one:

Junichi Masuda Pokémon Day Direct February 2019 Shield Sword red jacket GAME FREAK
Junichi Masuda of GAME FREAK looking like Jeanne from Bayonetta.

Yeah. Junichi Masuda of GAME FREAK. The guy who has said that Pokémon: Let's Go would be the last Pokémon game that he would direct... but that doesn't stop him from producing! And he might still have a lot of influence as producer. Just like Shigeru Miyamoto, who has pretty much just been a producer lately.

This could be dangerous. Their self-challenge to try new things may also be dangerous, seeing as how last year's new things in the series were mostly bad things.

Still, I'm optimistic.

Galar is an expansive-looking region, and the in-gameplay trailer looked great. Gyms are back. I praised Sun and Moon for having an alternative to gym matches, but I'm fine with them coming back after a break.

Those names, though. Sword and Shield? That's totally going against established canon. Unless the whole thing is an Aegislash reference, the Pokémon series already has a weapon of choice against shields: the spear.

Pokémon anime Bastiodon vs. Rampardos Ancient Family Matters shield spear
Left: Bastiodon, the shield that cannot be pierced.
Right: Rampardos, the spear that can pierce anything.

Spears beat swords in the weapon triangle anyway, but that franchise's upcoming game is a whole other topic that I'm not at all optimistic about

Guess I'll instinctively lean towards Pokémon Shield, though that's premature. Sounds like a good Splatfest topic. Too bad those won't exist by the time Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will release on the Nintendo Switch, which is projected to be late 2019.

Pokémon Sword Shield logos Nintendo Switch
Might as well say “holidays 2019” since we all know that's Nintendo's strategy for 2019.

What do you think about the Direct and its contents? Any feelings? Or are you waiting for more information before coming to a conclusion? Also, would you have preferred a live reaction log over this write-up? Share whatever thoughts you might have!

Ludwig wrote a write-up of the June 2019 Direct about Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield as well.
Late 2019 is November 15, 2019. But Ludwig won't be buying Pokémon.
After the game released, TPCi reveals Grookey's, Scorbunny's, and Sobble's evolutionary families.


  1. "Those names, though. Sword and Spear? That's totally going against established canon. Unless the whole thing is an Aegislash reference, the Pokémon series already has a weapon of choice against shields: the spear."

    I think the first "Spear" in the sentence should be "Shield."

    1. I didn't even share this article yet we're still QA-ing it internally. >_>

    2. I had no idea I hacked into and found a future article.

    3. Yeah try to refrain from doing that!

  2. Solid reveal. The purpose is very clearly to show that it'll be a conventional Pokemon game, and they'll delve into whatever new features the game has later on. A good chunk of the internet is upset over it not being a magical open-world game, but getting one of those right wouldn't mesh with their traditional release schedule, which requires churning out a new generation every 3 years, which works for them in terms of keeping the series perpetually relevant in tandem with remakes/expanded re-releases. They get to annually milk the segment that buys everything, while still spacing mainline releases just enough to avoid franchise burnout, but it does make it harder to reinvent the franchise like Zelda sometimes does.Remember that both BOTW and Ocarina of Time had lengthy and messy development cycles that meant droughts for mainline Zelda entries, and while they paid off, time spent out of the spotlight can be a negative for a franchise. Gamefreak cares about money, not critical acclaim, and they have a very effective formula for making it that they aren't going to abandon as long as it works.

    1. Everything you said is great insight!
      I disagree with that chunk of the Internet (and perhaps that upset anonymous commenter) that wanted a big revolution in the main series. With all that's happened with the franchise with GO and Let's Go and all of that pandering, a return to form is very reassuring. I don't have a preference for change for the sake of changing things.

      Or you might end up with something like Sticker Star.

  3. Same old, same old. Nothing revolutionary. Another handholdy main series entry. Graphics are just upscaled Sun/Moon graphics. Boring...

    1. The article's footer implied that it's a justifiable state to reserve judgment on Sword/Shield due to waiting for more information.
      You're doing the opposite. Do you have information I don't? How do you know it's not revolutionary? How do you know it's the same old? How do you know how handholdy it is? How do you know how boring it is?

      ...What did you expect for the graphics?

  4. Definitely joining you on Team Grookey. Scorbunny just looks like Fennekin 1.5 to me, and Sobble...what even IS that thing? Tbh, I thought I was done with the main line Pokemon games for good after I vehemently couldn't be bothered to try Ultra Sun and/or Moon...but with the new region based on England, I might just go back on my word on that.

    1. Hm, that's interesting, the last part. Is the real-world inspiration for the region really that influential?

    2. In this case only, yes. It's a long story. ;)

    3. Well, it's now March. We're gonna have a new round of the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program up for the next two months...
      ...I wanna hear that long story and you got the time to tell it!

    4. Sorry, you haven't tripped enough relationship meter flags with me to unlock that backstory. :P

    5. Well, we have until the game's release to do that. :)

    6. I don't think it's going to happen communicating only through article comments.

    7. We could communicate by other means too!

      Years of article comments have to mean something though.

    8. I dunno... e-mail... social media... Discord... Swapdoodles... *shrug*

    9. I thought the Discord was for the people who contribute to this website? I mean like, with articles. I mean, sure, I contribute with my comments, but more often I snark at it instead.

    10. I didn't mean the KoopaTV Discord server. I meant, uh, Discord direct messages.

  5. Sword and Shield are odd choices for Pokémon, and I wonder how they're going to be worked in... feels weirdly out of place right now. Like you, I think Grookey looks the best of the three starters.

    I was stunned by how many people I saw angry that it wasn't open world or a radical change in formula (like Breath of the Wild). It's too early to say if it will suffer from Sun/Moon's problems, but so far I like what I've seen.

    1. "It's a console game! Why isn't it an MMO?" Is what I've heard. Because all console games need to be like that.

      (The Nintendo Switch is a handheld...!)

    2. An MMO? Geez.
      The open world obsession frustrates me. I've seen people who want Metroid Prime 4 to be open world, too.

    3. Literally the quote was, “Sword and shield looks like a carbon copy of let’s go Pikachu and Eevee. If they’re gonna go all in on a console Pokémon rpg, make it MMO and remove the fixed camera.”

      Rubbish thought.

    4. I've seen that camera complaint a lot.

    5. I don't understand what the ask is.

    6. Why do people not like a fixed camera? What would they prefer?

    7. I think they want an over-the-shoulder camera that you'd be able to move freely.

    8. ...Oh. No, you shouldn't want that. I mean, that makes it harder to... explore.


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