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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Buying Pokémon Sword/Shield? Why I Won't

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - You can do what you want with your own money, of course. (Or even my money.)

In preparing to write this article, I've been reviewing KoopaTV's coverage of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. For pretty much every official announcement from The Pokémon Company International, we published something about it. As I was hoping for, I don't think it was an information overload this time around.

However, I wasn't ever really hyped over Pokémon Shield, which is the version I'd pick if I was going to buy one. When they were first revealed and named in February 2019, I said I was optimistic about what was shown in the trailer, but worried about Junichi Masuda being the producer on the game. In the June 2019 Pokémon Direct, I said I was more interested in playing the game than I was before watching that—though I wasn't giving the game much actual praise in the article tone.

What followed were a lot of individual Pokémon and feature announcements that either didn't move the needle, or actually got me looking less forward to the game. The biggest controversy among the fanbase has been about the fate of the National Dex and Pokémon from past generations being put into the game. I'm on record only caring about that in the context of what it means for spin-off games, so that wouldn't be the reason for why I wouldn't buy Pokémon Shield itself.

I'm not getting it because, if it weren't a Pokémon game, I wouldn't even consider it. Pokémon Shield hasn't presented itself as a competent Japanese RPG in terms of what we've seen. Meanwhile, I have a copy of Dragon Quest XI S now that is waiting to be played after I was so pleased with the demo. I have other, better things to play.

If GAME FREAK is going to continue to operate on an annual release schedule, we're going to get a Galarian iteration next year anyway, which'll probably add substantially more content and fix a lot of problems. I'll re-look at the situation then, and of course, KoopaTV will cover the announcement. Alternatively, they'll remake an older generation, like the Sinnoh games, which I'm worried about how they'll handle it.

I haven't been very specific in this article. I know there is a tremendous amount of negativity surrounding the game with cut Pokémon, cut moves, bad story and characters, linear pathways, whatever. I haven't myself gone into specifics because I don't want to read non-official spoilers/leaks/possible misinformation. So, I gave a chance for Junichi Masuda, GAME FREAK, and The Pokémon Company International to impress me with an interview that's supposedly directed at people who “weren't hyped enough about these games”.

The interview begins claiming it's a shift in the series, with multiple people trying to become Champion and not just the main character. That's been a facet in the series since the very first games with the rival literally becoming the champion before you do. But Shigeru Ohmori, the GAME FREAK director with the game, keeps stating the design philosophy is akin to sports. That's... not really something I'm all that interested in, especially since it's based on bad sports like soccer.

Pokémon Sword Shield Champion Leon Charizard
Charizard doesn't even look like it wants to be there.

The next highlight is the Wild Area, and TPCi asks if GAME FREAK will make an open-world Pokémon game. I'd hope not. If buying the game will signal to GAME FREAK that I want the next game to be open world or an MMORPG, count me out. Bad direction to go in. Then there was an incoherent answer about why Experience Share is left on permanently. It's so bad that it's convinced me that Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield were developed by people who fundamentally are incapable of empathising with their player base:

“Mr. Ohmori: I spent a lot of time discussing this with our battle design team. We came to the realization that the vast majority of players played the games with the Exp. Share left on at all times. When thinking of why players would want to turn it off, we thought it would primarily be to give Exp. Points to only one of the Pokémon in your party. We felt the same result could be achieved by players simply limiting the number of Pokémon in their party to one. That would be a more intuitive way to limit Exp. Point gains for most players.”

Consider a few things. One, perhaps players want more of a challenge. Two, the Exp. Share item not only distributes experience points, but also distributes Effort Values, which players want to minimise-maximise which kind of Effort Values go to which Pokémon, instead of their whole team getting the same set. Three, it's completely counter-intuitive to have a Pokémon party of one if you only want one Pokémon at a time getting experience points. If that Pokémon faints, you get a game over. The intuitive way was what already existed—the ability to toggle it on and off as if it were something in an options menu.

The other major mechanic in this game is Dynamaxing, and at no point was I hyped about that. They totally failed to explain why it's superior or more interesting than previous mechanics like Mega Evolution or Z-Moves. The closest thing is that they said it doesn't require a held item, so there's greater strategic possibility if you Dynamax a Pokémon with a held item. I don't think you need a whole new mechanic to get that done. Even Pokémon Let's Go has Mega Evolution without held items.

I don't understand the rationale for the game. So I'm not buying it. Pretty simple. The only other rationale is that I need to play the game in order to still be a relevant part of the Pokémon community. I'm not sure that's really worth remaining in at this point, even though I've met many people through that and have been a part of it for over two decades.

This calculus all changes if there's a Generation 8 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game that relies on having played through a real Galar game... without continuing the cut content philosophy of Galar. Otherwise, screw it. On tighter consideration, I realised the spin-off games in Generation 7 were pretty much all awful mobile titles, and Pokémon spin-offs haven't been good since Generation 6. Bad sign for this franchise.

You can try to convince Ludwig to change his mind in the comments section if you desire. He just wishes for KoopaTV to be a relatively spoiler-free zone. As for the statement in the sub-heading, if you want to buy Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield with Ludwig's money, you should look into participating in the KoopaTV Loyalty Rewards Program. (You can also use that money to buy other things too.) You're an idiot if you don't, quite frankly.

It took Ludwig two months to buy Pokémon X when he didn't feel like doing it at launch. He's hoping to last longer than that this time.
Ludwig momentarily forgets he wrote this article and indulges in the designs of the Galar starters.
Those leaks Ludwig mentioned? TPCi is going to pwn those who leaked it.
Ludwig won't get the expansion pass either. The existence of that makes him dislike the game more.
The expansion pass has some laziness as well.
The Generation 9 titles are open world, meaning that Ludwig's refusal to buy Shield in order to prevent that from happening failed.
But for that reason, Ludwig refused to buy Scarlet as well.


  1. I'm not buying it right away, at least, because after reading the reviews, the reviews highlighted positives that don't really matter to me and negatives that will disappoint me, so even reading its highest reviews made me think I should wait.

    1. Wait for what, boredom? Your backlog to be completed?
      A patch?

    2. If I try to wait for my backlog to be completed, that poor game will never get played. Waiting until I finish the games I currently have in progress... or really want to play a Pokémon game.

      Or I might ask for it as a Christmas present.

    3. If you get it as a Christmas present, it still won't be played.


    4. I will play Color Splash next year! (Probably.)

    5. I feel like you said that a year ago. :(

  2. When having huge credit card bills to pay off have a use in making me not want to purchase the game right away, hopefully delaying my want for it until the enhanced version is announced.

    1. Not gonna lie, this was reading like a spam comment for the first half of it.

      Get yourself out of debt. >_>

    2. As someone also in debt, I can sympathize with those sentiments.

    3. Kamek should also get himself out of debt.

      (Particularly to me.)


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