What can Pokémon fans expect for the release of Sword and Shield? Like most releases of the popular monster-catching and battling franchise, the game features a simultaneous debut of two titles with slight differences.
While at their core, they're the same game, there are slight variations between them. So which game should you get? Well, a lot of that depends on which type of Pokémon you're most excited about capturing.
How much does 'Pokémon Sword and Shield' cost?
If you're an uber-Pokémon fanatic, then there's a good chance you'll purchase both of the games in an effort to catch them all without help from anyone else. Both Amazon and Walmart offered the Double Pack for $99.88, but it looks like Jeff Bezos' online retail giant doesn't have that discount anymore.
Walmart does though, and the best part is, you won't have to shop in-store to get it.
Which is good news for anyone who doesn't want to wait in line for the one register that's actually staffed in a sea of 42 closed ones. If you buy the game separately, however, it'll cost you $59.99. Seeing as this the eighth generation Pokémon game and an actual title for a major Nintendo console, the demand for it's high, so you should jump on it.
'Pokémon Sword and Shield' release date.
The games officially came out November 15, which might leave you wondering why there are so many gameplay videos and guides already available online. You might remember a little bit of drama between Nintendo and game streamers / reviewers leaking content related to their high-profile titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That hasn't affected Sword and Shield critics, however.
They were able to receive advance copies of the game to give their honest opinions and thoughts about the dual-release. Metacritic currently has the game sitting at an 81 out of 100 possible score, which is pretty darn good, considering the core gameplay mechanics of Pokémon really haven't changed that much. If you professionally review games for a living, there's a good chance you're jaded by playing the same thing, over and over again.
From the looks of it, Pokémon Sword and Shield appears to do enough to differentiate itself from other Pokémon games while still feeling familiar, which is a huge accomplishment.
Reviews: the good
Gita Jackson of Kotaku had specific praise for some of the more challenging areas of the games - namely the "Wild Area". In this part of the game, many of the monsters you encounter are of a much higher level than your team of Pokémon.
Which means that the battle encounters could see your entire team of combatants leveled by a single wild monster, which is a pretty neat old-school challenge in a generation of games that are seen as too "hand-holding" for gamers.
Others liked the fact that the map doesn't have "random" battles - you see the Pokemon you're about to fight before you engage in combat with them. Folks seem to really love "Dynamaxing" as well.
This means that fights where you don't catch Pokémon yield better rewards than just some experience points. It also doesn't hurt that this is easily the prettiest Pokémon game you'll ever play. It's got a new aesthetic that's still undeniably Pokémon, which will please longtime fans of the series.
Reviews: the bad
Although the game looks amazing, some critics have said that parts of it look "unfinished." Others were unhappy that some classic monsters were left out of the game.
Admittedly, that wasn't such a big deal, because the titles pack a bunch of new Pokémon for gamers to catch and enjoy. Another point of contention, and this seems to vary depending on which reviewer you ask, is that the games ultimately don't innovate enough.
I'd argue that this is the case with a lot of Nintendo titles. If you like them, you'll like the incremental changes, but if that's not enough for you, maybe you're just getting bored with the same formulaic regurgitation?
So what's the difference between the two?
It's the first time ever that different Pokémon titles from the same generation have different gym trainers, which means each game will offer separate "boss battles" and unique challenges. Of course, there's separate Pokemon for each version.
Different Legendaries, Gigantamax Raids, and items.
This is nothing new, but these god-like Pokémon are exclusive to each title. Zacian can only be captured in Sword, while Zamazenta is for Shield players only, you'll need to trade these, and the other exclusive monsters to fill out your Pokédexes in each game.
In Sword there's an increased likelihood that you'll come across Gigantamax Dreadnaw in the Max Raids, in Shield you'll fight Corviknight.
As far as items go, Sword players will get players access to the Tart Apple, which will allow them to evolve Applin to Flapple. The Sweet Apple is for Shield players and will evolve the same Pokémon to turn into Appletun.
There are probably other slight differences reviewers haven't discovered yet, but that's for gamers to find out. And don't forget about the possibility of updates to improve/enhance the user experience.
Will you be getting one or both of these titles?