Wednesday 27 February 2019

Pokémon Sword and Shield - Generation Eight is Here!

Today has been Pokémon Day. And today has been the day we finally got our look at the start of Generation 8 thanks to the Pokémon Direct. For this Pokémon Day, I’ve mostly just been listening to music from the series, but I had been playing XD: Gale of Darkness on the Gamecube for some time before the Direct, and I just love talking about how I wished the mainline games could be as good as both Colosseum and Gale of Darkness.

After Generation 6 moved the series to the 3DS, it was a first effort in making a 3D game. It looked good, but there were plenty of things it could have done better. Technical limitations probably prevented several of them, but throughout these last five/six years, there has been progress in that 3D design. With the eighth generation of games moving to a console, it should have been a leap forward. Again, in ways it is.

To start, the trailer offered a look at the new region. Even with it’s stylised look, it proves to be a lot better than what we got with Sun and Moon. There’s a lot more detail within the world. And the camera shows it off a lot more with a view that’s lower down than previous games have offered. There’s still a few bits that look weird, such as dirt paths and water, but there’s plenty of months in which that can be fixed. Then the last shot shows the player trainer walking through grass, and a wild battle begins.

Now this is the part where I say it falls short and make all those comparisons to the Gamecube games. The battles. The backdrops for them look great. They are now fully realised battle arena backdrops, just as they were in those Gamecube games and what these last two generations of games have been building towards. But then we see clips of the battles themselves. That camera is still too rigid, favouring a mostly behind the player team view of the battle.

Even the animations still look restricted in some ways. I’m in no way saying the Gamecube games were perfect at this, but getting a more dynamic camera into these battles will help them to look better. On some moves, there is. It’s visible with the Lucario and Tyranitar snippet we see, but others still try to keep that camera behind your team. The trainers and Pokémon also look rigid in their idle poses. I don’t know whether technical limitations still play a part in this, but it is a step closer to getting to the standard the Gamecube games set [and even Stadium on the N64, I’ll admit].

I don’t want this to be drowning in negatives though, as everything else is looking very nice. The region Galar is based on the UK, looking like a weird parallel version where nearly everything has been mirrored except the geography of the country. And I love it. The map that was released shows off a very varied region that offers plenty to be exploring. Some of that was shown off within the trailer, such as the farming community and the snowy town, as well as areas not visible such as the mine. There should hopefully be plenty of places hidden around to explore. And being a UK based region, of course there’s a football stadium.

The starters are also looking good. My favourite being a tough choice between the fire rabbit Scorbunny and the water lizard Sobble. While I like the look of grass monkey Grookey as well, it can’t win me over as much as the other two. But when you favour rabbits and lizards over monkeys, it’s obvious what’s going to happen. The evolutions of the starters and more Galar region ‘mon will be shown off in the future, but what we have now look to be a good mix.

Pokémon Sword and Shield are the names, and they release in October/November. I hope they offer a world full of exploration that builds up this region to be one of the greats. I also hope to see some form of side events come into play, and based on the fact we’ve already seen a football stadium, I think they’ll be related to sports.