There was a lot to like about the Pokémon Sword and Shield information given today, from the bouncy Scorbunny battle animations, to the immersive Wild Areas, to the reveal of new Pokémon such as Yamper. So why is the fandom up in arms? It comes down to a surprising statement given over the course of a minute from Pokémon Sword and Shield producer, Junichi Masuda, at the end of the Nintendo Treehouse segment.
What was actually said?
The English translation offered for what Masuda said during the announcement is as follows:
At Game Freak, we really spent a lot of time thinking what the best way of moving forward was, really preserving the quality of the different Pokémon. Also taking into account the battle balance having so many different Pokémon available. All of it, you know, in limited development time. So we don’t want to keep fans waiting too long for every new entry in the series.
And after a lot of discussion we decided to come to a new direction.
And so what that means for Pokémon Sword and Shield is that players will be able to transfer Pokémon from Pokémon Home only if they appear in the Galar region Pokédex.
So we were very careful, we spent a lot of time on what the best selection of Pokémon to match the setting of the adventure would be. So I’ll talk more about the details in future opportunites such as media interviews.
In case you were thinking it was a mistranslation, that seems unlikely. A Japanese fansite has given their translation that matches the English translation. Our local admin Cherrim has confirmed these to be accurate.
Why this sucks
There’s a lot to dislike. Try any of these perspectives.
Consider your favourite Pokémon – one you enjoyed from the older generations and would love to bring to the newest game… only to find out you cannot use it in a current generation game.
Consider a generation eight game which may well have less Pokémon available in it than Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, which released in 2006.
Consider a repeat of the inability to transfer Pokémon from generation two to three games, only this time it would be possible for all Pokémon, except the game developers are purposefully excluding certain Pokémon.
Consider this news comes after the reveal of Pokémon Home which had implied you can transfer anything between it and Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Consider this is from the franchise which had the extremely well known phrase Gotta catch them all!
Consider that this will likely apply to other games down the line, not just Pokémon Sword and Shield. You could have moved a Pokémon to Home but be unable to move it out again and use it for years. Remember – Pokémon Home can only send Pokémon to Pokémon Sword and Shield.
Consider the possibility that you may have to buy a ‘third version’ just to have more Pokémon available to use. Even then – your favourites may not be all included.
The reason of ‘battle balance’ is hardly a convincing one either. For starters, the games have hardly been balanced. Take a look at any Smogon tierlist or the most used Pokémon in a Video Game Competition (VGC) event, including Worlds. There’s a lot of repetition, and a lot of struggles to try to make the game balanced by fans.
It also ignores a large appeal of Pokémon and the franchise itself. It’s less about a balance, and more about being able to use the Pokémon you made friends with, and embracing your favourites. After all, to use one of the more famous quotes to arise from the series: “Strong Pokémon. Weak Pokémon. That is only the selfish perception of people. Truly skilled trainers should try to win with their favourites.” Sadly, those favourites may not be available for you.
What’s the best outcome?
Basically, we’d have to hope that the fan outcry is such that Game Freak are forced into a rethink and will change their approach. There’s more than one way around it that won’t require the game to be delayed either. For example, by using patches, they could add more Pokémon in sets; say twenty more Pokémon or so every few weeks. Make an event out of it – make some new Dynamax Bosses, so there are more reasons for players to keep playing the game. They could also do less frequent but bigger additions too, for instance by generation, and make events out of them.
It should be doable too. All the models exist for every Pokémon including animation – they would just need new textures applied. If Game Freak insist on reusing the attack animations from two generations back and on a previous console, they could be excused for using the same Pokémon models as well.
Game Freak sadly have been seemingly averse to using patches for games. Pokémon X and Y did not have any patch allowing it to work with new Mega Evolutions in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Pokémon Sun and Moon couldn’t cater for the new Ultra Beasts in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon either. The only patches we’ve seen have been for (some) bug fixes.
Of course, they could delay the game and have it all ready by launch. This however seems unlikely given how the rest of the franchise is built around their planned game release windows, from movies to spin-off titles. Fans would likely prefer a delayed but better game in the end though, much like how the Metroid and Animal Crossing community is waiting for the next titles in their respective series.
Maybe the hacking community is the best bet. Let’s hope for something better – it’s bad when you want to rely on hackers for a solution.
So I guess our job as hackers this time is to fix this shit.
Probably similar data structures to Let's go, guess we've got five months to start trying to figure out how to add old Pokémon back in….
— Michael (@SciresM) June 11, 2019
What is your reaction to the news about Pokémon Home and Pokémon Sword and Shield?
Edited by Rabinov, Rivvon, and Sheep.