Long time fans of the Pokemon franchise had a lot to be happy about leading up to this year’s E3. Last week, we were pelted with tons of new information regarding the next additions to the series: Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. Open world mechanics, non-random battle encounters, a look quick look at the legendary Pokemon, and an official release date were just some of the announcements that were jam packed into the 16-minute feature.
From Hero to Zero
Despite the hype, everything unraveled during what seemed like an off-handed Nintendo Treehouse stream on Tuesday morning:
"...players will be able to transfer their Pokemon from Pokemon Home, only if they appear in the Galar
This one line translated from Pokemon director Junichi Masuda sent the community into a spiral. The implication was that hundreds of Pokémon from previous generations could not be transferred in from Pokemon Home unless they were deemed appropriate for the Galar region. Further elaboration from Masuda confirmed that this is exactly what Game Freak intended to do with the upcoming titles.
This decision is not only a huge blow to avid collectors that have spent the past 20 plus years jumping through hoops to capture every creature in the game, but a fatal shot to the competitive community. Pro players that have spent decades grinding, training, and synergizing teams for competition will basically have to start from scratch as this change will most likely leave huge gaps in the their best line ups.
An Inevitability for the Series?
For anyone who put in the time and effort required to truly “catch em’ all” across seven generations and 800 plus pokemon may have seen the writing on the wall. The Sun and Moon games were especially harsh to vetran trainers. Limited box space meant that hardcore players were forced to keep legendary duplicates and entire EV trained teams in the Pokebank to gather dust.
In-game rewards for completing each island’s individual pokedex along with the overall Alolan pokedex were lackluster and lacking in innovation. The worst offender in Sun and Moon was that not every Pokemon transferred in from previous generations were given a proper Pokedex number or entry, leaving them in a weird limbo where the developers treated them like they didn’t really exist.
At the time of writing, Game Freak hasn’t budged an inch regarding the eventual release of a national pokedex for Pokemon Sword and Shield. The developers cite the intensive programming required to allow every single Pokemon to be brought into the next generation as the reason for this limitation, but some critics have.It has yet to be seen if Game Freak will buckle to the community's outcries or stay firm and solidify that this is the way it will be for the series moving forward.
From a personal standpoint, this may be the end of the line for my Pokemon journey. The last couple of entries in the series have been slogs to complete and staying up to date with my collection was really the only thing that kept me going, and the E3 demo I played didn’t instill hope that the new games will drastically veer away from the traditional formula.
In a way though, Game Freak’s decision is just the out I need to officially walk away from the franchise. No more driving up to GameStop every couple of months just to pick up a voucher for the newest legendary. No more walking into a McDonalds with 3DS in hand to hook up to the local wifi to download an exclusive event pokemon. No more endless egg hatching to get the exact nature I want for my pokemon.
I’m eager to see how Game Freak adjusts to the criticism, and how they handle changes in the upcoming months will definitely make or break the game for a lot of the community, including myself.
Pokemon Sword and Shield will release on November 15th, 2019, exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.