POKEMON SWORD & SHIELD / DEVELOPER: GAME FREAK / PUBLISHER: NINTENDO / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
It's been one of the biggest-selling franchises in videogame history and now, after over twenty years as a handheld exclusive, Pokemon Sword & Shield becomes the first games in the main series to come to home console.
Like most of the previous games, you pick one of three starter Pokemon and then begin your journey to become a Pokemon master by beating each of eight gym leaders. It's a very linear narrative with the side quest being to catch all the Pokemon - or, as there's four hundred of them now, more likely just catch a load of them.
The world is expansive with plenty of side streets and houses to explore, enabling you to find helpful items and hidden Pokemon. Like last year's Let's Go! games, random encounters are no longer an issue. You're able to see most of the Pokemon wondering around and can just avoid them if you don't wish to battle. You also now receive XP from catching Pokemon as well as just defeating them. These are welcome improvements, removing tedious parts of the franchise and making grinding really unnecessary if you're trying to fill out your Pokedex.
The game has a few new standout features. Dynamax moves allows certain Pokemon to turn into Godzilla-sized versions of themselves for three turns during battle. It's impressive to see your Pokemon dwarf everything else with their massive attack animations.
The second big new feature is wild areas. These are much more open environments where you'll find extra-strong Pokemon. It's also where you'll find another new feature - Max Raid Battles - where players can team up with up to three other people to battle and capture various Dynamax Pokemon.
If Pokemon games have never appealed to you before, it's hard to see why this would be any different. Sword & Shield improve upon the previous games in the series, but in small subtle ways rather than reinventing the wheel. Kids, Pokemon fans and JRPG fans, however, will all have great time throughout.