Pokemon Shield – First Thoughts

Who's for a spot of Pokémon? Pip-Pip!

Official Synopsis

Become a Pokémon Trainer, embark on a new journey in the new Galar region, and unravel the mystery behind the Legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta! Explore the Wild Area, a vast expanse of land where the player can freely control the camera. And participate in Max Raid Battles in which players will face off against gigantic and super-strong Pokémon known as Dynamax Pokémon.

Begin your adventure by choosing one of three new partner Pokémon – Grookey, Scorbunny, or Sobble – and encounter new and familiar Pokémon as you catch, battle, and trade. Players can control the camera and explore the vast areas around them in the Wild Area. Team up with other players locally or online in the new multiplayer co-op Max Raid Battles. Trainers who possess the special item Dynamax Band can Dynamax their own Pokémon. Get ready for the next Pokémon adventure in the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield games.

First Thoughts

So, first things first… Wooloo’s are the fluffiest ever, and I want one to cuddle right now because they are so cute, and they roll away, and…

Anyway; Pokemon Shield, and it’s sister game Pokémon Sword, is the newest in the long line of mainline Pokémon games to be released. As with every classic mainline game, your character is a young boy or girl, who are starting their Pokemon journey by selecting their first Pokemon from a choice of three, then setting off to catch as many other Pokémon as you can. You are trying to build the best team and then battling other trainers, including your childhood friend turned rival, gym leaders and then the region’s most elite trainers in order to become the best, like no-one ever was (Sorry, I could not resist).

Shield does not break this classic model at all. However, it does not feel tired at all and is as welcoming and comfortable as all Pokémon games have so far. This judgement is based on a few hours of gaming so far due to the Switch and the game belonging to my husband. So, out of the kindest of my heart, I let him have the majority of time on the game, and then shared (or battled) with my darling daughter for the few hours left over.

I have been looking forward to this game since it’s announcement, as I have been a Pokémon fan since getting my hands on Pokemon Red back when it was first released in the UK. I have tried to play every release, and have collected many plushies and other merchandise (Lets just ignore the fact that my daughter’s nickname is Eevee and she may or may not have all the Eeveeulations on her bedroom wall…). But with the announcement that Shield and Sword were being developed with their region being based on Britain, I was super stoked, due to both being British and having a passion for history (Check out Reel History on the Bunkazilla network!). I was looking forward to seeing what Game Freak would do with the premise, plus Wooloos were premiered and I have been squealing ever since)

Prince Phillip was delighted at the new arrivals…

With my only couple of hours of playtime, I have been very pleased. Like all Pokémon games, the characters are cute and likeable, the controls are simple and instinctive if you have played previous games, and the scenery is pretty and colourful. Also the references to Britain have been adorable with things like:

• Pokémon Centre’s now have a pub inside, alongside the healing and Poke-marts
• Nurse Joys now wear a uniform that is very similar to what nurses wore in the Victorian Era
• Hop (The childhood friend/ rival character) uses words like ‘mate’ and compliments your ‘flash new phone.’
• The main character’s mother is labelled as mum
• The Pokémon league is treated how the majority of British people treat football, with an opening ceremony, the trainers wearing sports uniforms and gym battles in stadiums.
• There are now collectable league cards, which look very close to the football stickers that kids and full-grown football fans go crazy for every year.
• There are train delays due to many reasons, which sound very similar to what we actually hear in the UK
• The two main locations I have visited so far have been the stereotypical quaint English Village with cottages, mock Tudor buildings, nestled in the scenic countryside (With Wooloos!) and then the city has an industrial steampunk aseptic, complete with red brick, reflecting Britain’s industrial era.

The iconic British red pillar postboxs are dotted around

• Even the type fonts are similar to what you actually find in British locations like train stations.

The pre-schooler trainer pretty much looks like my daughter when she is in her school uniform

And I’m sure there is more I am yet to find

Not one of the research teams finer moments…

The controversy that the games have a limited Pokedex has upset many Pokemon fans due to the higher chance that their favourite Pokémon has not been included in the new game. This design choice is something I understand, as it was going to be something that was going to happen due to there being over a thousand of these cuties so numbers were go to be limited at some point. But it meant that they could concentrate on the Pokemon that are most likely to be living in this Pokemon version of Britain. Even some of the new Pokémon can be seen as more references to Britain’s history and culture, including the obligatory teapot Pokémon along with a cream cake. There is ones based on Coal, which was one of the most important resources that Britain had during the Industrial revolution (Along with cheap labour at home, and slave labour aboard…). There is also a brand new elephant Pokémon, which can be read to be a representation of our colonising past… but sometimes an elephant is just an elephant… Hey, I am a historian, this is what I do. (My Starter Pokémon, Sobble, is even called Turing, and many of my other Pokémon have British history related names… I am a nerd…)

Not shown, Danny Dyre bricking it in fear of your Pokémons

Anyhoo, to sum up: if you liked any of the previous games, I feel like you will enjoy this. The new features like Dynomaxing are really silly and fun (OMG! HUGE WOOLOO. BOW DOWN TO YOUR FLUFFY GOD!) and I am really enjoying the Pokémon hunting mechanics as it’s great to see Pokémon out and about at roughly on the scale that they would be. The only niggles I have is that I feel that at least the cut scenes should have been voiced, as the characters are moving their mouths but nothing is coming out. Also, there should be a new Eeveeluation, but I do have a slight bias.

Happy battling! And let us know in the comments what you think!

Jenna Pateman

Pokémon Shield is available to buy now

Jenna is the co-host of Reel History, which you listen to on the Bunkazilla network. Check the schedule for upcoming broadcast times.

You can follow Jenna on twitter @nadesicokitty and if you enjoyed her work you can support here at Ko-fi.com. Just hit the button below.

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And if you fancy doing some battling, Her Switch friend code is SW-7697-1792-4004