Hi, Welcome to my Review of Pokemon Shield. I know the title says Pokemon Sword and Shield, but I only have Pokemon Shield. I figure the games are similar enough that I can use this review to help people thinking about purchasing either version.
Pokemon Sword is similar to Pokemon Shield, but Shield is the version I chose to buy. Pokemon Sword’s Legendary is better overall, focusing on attack, while Shield’s Legendary focuses on defense.
And let’s be honest Pokemon Sword’s Legendary has a better overall design – a Pokemon that carries a sword in its mouth looks way cooler than a Pokemon whose neck scruff is vaguely shaped like a shield lol. So why did I buy Pokemon Shield instead of Sword?
I like the underdogs, and when you look at the stats, Pokemon Sword players dominate in every category compared to Pokemon Shield. Pokemon Shield is the lesser liked on the two versions and rarer and has fewer players.
Also that means the exclusive pokemon on Shield are rarer than the exclusives on Sword. And there is at least one Pokemon Shield exclusive that I really love – the Pokemon Shield Galarian Ponyta! It has a tiny striped horn, white body and extremely curly fluffy lavender and tiffany blue mane. – I don’t have one yet though! I’m 16 hours deep and only to the 3rd gym because there’s so much to do in this game!
So let’s start by looking at the gameplay.
Gameplay: 10/10 – I have played almost every Pokemon game, since the very first Pokemon Red and Blue. And I have to say, Pokemon Shield might be the best Pokemon game I’ve ever played.
Pokemon Sword and Shield have a ton of great features. Let’s break down a few key features right now.
As always, the main objective in any Pokemon Game is catching cute creatures known as Pokemon, completing your Pokedex, while progressing through a linear storyline in which a young Pokemon Tamer chooses his or her first Pokemon and leaves home for the first time in order to help the Professor research new Pokemon. While doing so, the player will face off against Gym Leaders and earn Pokemon badges. The basics do not change. This formula has existed ever since the first Pokemon games and it continues to be the case still for Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
The following features may not be new to Sword and Shield. Many have appeared in various Pokemon games in the past, even the mobile games, but seeing all the features in one giant game, gives it a sense of so much to do and see in one game.
As in previous installments you can dressup your Trainer character and choose from male or female trainer characters. Your initial look is determined by selecting a face picture from among many different options. Each town sells new outfits and accessories.
One really neat thing about Pokemon Sword and Shield is the diversity! I honestly don’t remember a Pokemon game with such a diverse cast of characters. About half of the gym leaders and your rival are people of color. Many of the NPCs, even just random people walking around town or in shops or buildings are also people of color. The colors range from dark to medium to light. Pokemon Sword and Shield was doing the whole BLM thing before it became popular here :).
I’m all for a more diverse world. I also really appreciate the ability to pick a female main character although I know that has been pretty standard the past 5 games or so. There’s a lot of diversity options for hair styles too with some truly authentic natural hair choices for people of color.
Having all of these people of color gives a sense of inclusion and also offers some nice cosplay ideas for people of color to explore (not that they can’t choose to cosplay a white character or asian character or any other character, but I’m just saying now they have more options available to them.) My favorite gym leader is the dark and beautiful Nessa. She’s stunning and gorgeous.
Whether you’re white, black, brown, yellow, Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Indian, or Asian, you will see your race represented in the world of Pokemon Shield and Pokemon Sword and I think that’s awesome, especially for a game created in Japan, where people have been traditionally xenophobic. It’s nice to see game developers taking steps towards inclusion and honestly, it adds immersion to the gameplay.
Another feature of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield is the ability to set up camp to play with your Pokemon and cook curry. You can gather ingreedients from shaking trees or talking to other “online” players. Playing with pokemon raises their affection and friendship towards you. And it’s just plain adorable. Cooking for your pokemon can raise their EXP, heal their HP, and remove status ailments. Other online players can visit your Pokemon camp or you can visit theirs (but I haven’t seen much point in visiting others camps honestly). You can even customize your Pokemon Camp colors.
Playing With Pokemon
One of the best features is the online play capabilities of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. Online play really adds a great deal to the game. You can trade pokemon and I’ve gotten some great Pokemon by using the surprise trade. Players sometimes send junk, but you can just keep trading until you get one you like.
There does appear to be a small bug at least in my opinion. 95% of the time when I trade a pokemon and receive a new pokemon, the pokedex will update with the new Pokemon’s data… However, in some cases, the Pokedex does not update. For example I received a bulbasaur but my Pokedex didn’t update. There’s been a handful of other cases but I can’t remember all of them. It seems to happen more often if the Pokemon has a nickname or if the Pokemon has a Japanese name, which makes me think it is a bug of some kind. Has anyone else run into this?
Along with trading Pokemon, you can also trade league cards. You can customize your own league card with your character and a variety of facial expressions, poses, and backgrounds. As you progress through the game you can unlock new options for designing your league cards. You can also choose from shiny or matte finish.
The level of customization in Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield is off the hook. I am loving these customization aspects.
One of the biggest parts of any Pokemon game, are Pokemon battles. You can battle other players online or join together in max raid battles with a chance to capture rare Pokemon.
Pokemon NPC Battle
Catching a Pokemon
Your Pokemon can also take on a number of different jobs in which you will earn experience and items or money. You can choose to let them do the job the whole day, or various lengths of time. The longer you let them work, the better the rewards. This helps level up those pokemon who are just sitting around in boxes and not actively in your party.
Like any Pokemon game, understanding Pokemon types weakness and advantages will help you progress quickly through gym challenges or NPC battles. This keeps you on your toes as you plan your perfect party of Pokemon for any given situation.
Each Pokemon Gym has a puzzle to solve, and the puzzles increase in difficulty as you progress through the game. Another difference between Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield is each version has 2 different exclusive gyms and gym leaders.
The Pokemon Nursery returns allowing you to leave two Pokemon of differing genders and same or similar species who will not earn EXP but may leave behind a Pokemon Egg. If you place the Pokemon Egg in your active party while playing, the Pokemon Egg will hatch. Some Pokemon can only be obtained by breeding Pokemon Eggs.
Are you looking to get fit? If you already own a Pokemon Ball Plus which can be used with Let’s Go Pikachu, Let’s Go Eevee, and Pokemon Go, you can also use the Pokemon Ball Plus with Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. This device lets you place a Pokemon inside to earn EXP or help hatch your eggs. It counts your steps and helps you stay active while playing the game. Pretty neat!
It’s out of stock in a lot of places, but my local gamestop has it for $29.99 for a preowned Pokeball Plus. Plus if you’re a rewards member you get a $5 rewards coupon each month, bringing the total down to just $24.99. They retail for $49.99 for a new one. So you save about $25. Pretty good deal. Check your local gamestop or order online here https://www.gamestop.com/video-games/switch/accessories/controllers/products/nintendo-switch-poke-ball-plus/10164294.html
The one new feature that Pokemon Shield and Pokemon Sword bring to the game is Dynamx. This strange new Pokemon ability allows your Pokemon to grow to ginormous sizes and unleash powerful new moves. It looks pretty cool!
In fact, everything about this game looks amazing. Which brings us to talking about Graphics.
Graphics 10/10 – I already mentioned how diverse the game world is including all types of people from all walks of life. Colored people. White people. Cute young kids. Old People. Facial Hair. Ethnic Hair. Dad Bods even. Look at Chairman Rose’s Dad Bod, come on LOL.
But everything about this game is simply gorgeous. It is the best looking Pokemon game ever. Everything from the people to the pokemon to the sky to the sea to the trees and grass and the horizons the buildings, oh so much detail, color, beauty. The world is truly alive and beautiful. I love taking screenshots, as you can see all my screenshots throughout this blog post. I have taken over 250 screenshots and videos in the 16 hours I’ve played because I’m so in love with how this game looks.
Alright so there are a few flaws I must say… And that is in the story and character development. Or lack there really of. Yes there is the mystery of the darkest day and the hero with the sword and shield and a loose kiddy story about leaving home for the first time to battle gym leaders.
Story: 5/10 – As mentioned there’s not much story here. A 5 is generous even… There is the mystery but you won’t solve that for a long time, and the story is linear without freedom of choice or multiple endings, its basically like every other Pokemon game ever before. It lacks originality or depth or really any substance. And honestly for me, the British slang is a huge turn off. I legit had to google some things because I had never heard of such expressions in my life.
Characters: 7/10 – They lack depth. But they do have diversity. I like most of the characters a lot. But they are a bit dull, because they lack back story, lack emotion, lack depth, or character development. But it’s the first time I ever recall seeing such a diverse cast in color, shape, size, gender, etc. Is it the first time there’s a female professor? I think so but I might be forgetting one. It’s definitely the first time we’ve seen so many main storyline characters represented by people of color.
Also why is there no voice acting in Pokemon Sword or Pokemon Shield?
Voice Acting 0/10
Music: 5/10 – eh most of the music is just remixed from previous Pokemon games nothing really stands out.
Replay Value 10/10 – There is already one expansion available – I do not have it yet as I just began the game last month. A second expansion is due out by the end of this year. Even without the expansion, the number of activities and the online features make it a game that you can continue playing even after getting all of the gym badges.
Customization: 10/10 – I mention throughout the review but customization really shines in this game.
Cuteness: 10/10 – The game looks amazing and some of the new generation of Pokemon are sooo cute. I’m a huge fan of Yamper, the corgi looking Pokemon, and Pokemon Shield’s unicorn looking Ponyta.
Diversity: 10/10 – Mentioned many times already, but this game really gets diversity right. It creates a living world with people of every color, gender, and shape.
Geeky: 5/5 – A true classic reimagined in 3D in a colorful world. Enough to make any geek’s mouth water. A game that stays true to its classic roots and combines many fun features from previous games with the new Dynamix morphing features.
Sweetie: 5/5 Pokemon are cute. You can play as a girl. High levels of customization and dressup. The world is diverse. It has all the ear markings of what most female gamers value in their favorite games. It does suffer from weak story elements, but it has enough features to make up for it.
Overall: So overall I would definitely recommend Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. I’m only 3 gyms in and there’s probably even more features I have yet to discover. But already I know enough to say it’s one of the best Pokemon games ever made.
Overall: 87/110 79% “Good Game for Girls” Missing an 80% by just 1 point, which would have landed it our score of “Very Good Game for Girls”. Close to being “very good” but landing at just “good” – If it had a deeper story, it’d score even higher. Really story is the only flaw I can find in this game.