The State of Pokemon Sword and Shield (June 2019)

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Okay guys, it is time for me to weigh in on an issue that has come to my attention concerning the upcoming Pokémon game, Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Instead of dancing around what that issue is, I will state it quite plainly: there are apparently going to be some cuts in the Pokémon roster in these games. Just a few weeks ago, the game was looking quite good with the Pokémon Direct on June 5, 2019. However, during E3’s Nintendo Tree House video, they mentioned that they needed to make some cuts. In fact, even with the inclusion of Pokémon Home (an upcoming cloud storage software to store and transfer your Pokémon collection) you can only transfer Pokémon to Sword and Shield that exist in the game’s regional (and incomplete) Galar Pokedex.

So, there are a lot of questions in regards to this unfortunate change. The first is, how many Pokémon are getting cut from Pokémon Sword and Shield? I personally don’t know the exact number, and suspect that an exact number hasn’t been revealed yet. I have heard (an unsubstantiated) rumor that it could be around 300 to 400 Pokémon that aren’t compatible with these games. Depending on the number of new Pokémon, the total number of Pokémon in Sword and Shield could be about half of the total number of Pokémon in the series up to this point. I personally would be disappointed if there are fewer than 500 Pokémon in Sword and Shield (although if the number is just below that amount, I might not be too upset). As my own speculation as to how many are cut, I am certain that 100 is the minimum, and hopefully around 300 is the maximum. Please note that this is wishful thinking on my part.

The next question is, which Pokémon are staying? I do not have a full number here either, though the best way to find out which Pokémon are in the game is to view the recent trailers on the June Pokémon Direct, and the Pokémon Sword and Shield segment of the E3’s 2019 Nintendo Tree House Live. All Pokémon in these videos should be obtainable in these games (I say should, as there was a notification in these videos that game footage isn’t final!).

pokemonHome
Pokemon Home features an option to transfer Pokemon from older games. This sounds like an option to get all Pokemon into Sword and Shield but it currently isn’t.

The next question, and perhaps most important is, what will Game Freak do to address this issue? First, the developers have stated that they do not have plans to update the game post launch to include missing Pokémon. This is naturally, disappointing, as it should be technologically possible. Additionally, they stated that those Pokémon not returning in Sword and Shield can still play a role in Pokémon Home. This can mean any number of things, from rewards to storing incompatible Pokémon, to filling a Pokémon Home exclusive national (and complete) Pokedex. With any luck, it also means you can eventually transfer these Pokémon to future games where they are compatible, which will most likely happen to some degree in the Pokémon games after Sword and Shield. Lastly, they could consider reintroducing Pokémon via DLC, but I’d hate to pay more just to transfer Pokémon I already own. (It should be noted that Pokémon Bank, which allows Pokémon to be transferred and stored on the 3DS games, costs $5 a year, and Pokémon Home presumably will cost something to download and/or have a yearly cost, price currently unknown. Pokémon Home can connect to Pokémon Bank, by the way, so you probably have to pay for both.)

Incidentally, this is not the first time they cut content in a Pokémon game. When Ruby and Sapphire versions released on the Game Boy Advance, players couldn’t transfer Pokémon from older games at all! In fact, only 202 Pokémon were initially available in Ruby and Sapphire, and that included all of the then new Pokémon (135), and some of the old Pokémon (around 67 of them). The missing Pokémon were still coded into the games, however, and the releases of Pokémon Colosseum, Fire Red, Leaf Green, Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness, and Emerald allowed you to trade with Ruby and Sapphire, enabling you to catch them all again. It is unclear if this sort of solution will occur this time around, but it did allow them to partially save face at the time.

I would like to discuss why the developers might be doing this. Such feature cuts may be a new normal for Pokémon games, possibly due to technical and time constraints. It has been stated that, including the upcoming new Pokémon, as well as alternate forms of existing Pokémon, there will be over 1,000 Pokémon in the franchise as of Sword and Shield. Currently, not including alternate forms, there are 809 Pokémon in the series. That is a lot of work to create and recreate per game, especially moving forward! Just crafting the animations per Pokémon alone should take a lot of time. There are also other considerations, such as adjusting Pokémon stats, moves, abilities, alternate forms, items they can hold, sound effects, and other future game play changes to add with each new game.

One would have to consider how much it would have to cost to maintain such things, including new hires, and possible delays for the game’s release. On the technical side, there is room for more glitches that need to be fixed by release day. The games X, Y, Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire, Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun, and Ultra Moon all had bugs in them on day one, (which were patched, though not on day one). It would be silly to think that such errors couldn’t happen again, and such malfunctions could be more frequent or game breaking if the size of the game doesn’t shrink somewhat.

VGCissues
Sometimes official tournaments allow really powerful Pokemon. Will the above be removed in Sword and Shield to balance the game better?

The last reason they may be removing content is to introduce game balancing to the game’s competitive scene. There is a desire from fans, myself included, to see more Pokémon have a chance at being viable in tournaments. In fact, it has been said that mega evolution and z-moves are not returning in Sword and Shield, possibly for game balance purposes. I have looked into this somewhat myself, and I have noticed that only a few of the current cast of Pokémon show up very frequently in online play and tournaments, while others almost never get used. Depending on the rule set used, you may see Pokémon like Incineroar or Landorus on every opposing team, and they are frequently used in similar ways. Would I prefer an in-game ban-list that changes based on win/loss records over removing content completely? I would, but I do appreciate that they are trying to fix online game balance while they are running into real world technical issues that limits the amount of content that can realistically deliver.

Before I end this article, I want to summarize what is known about this issue:

  • Only Pokémon in Sword and Shield’s Galar Pokedex can be transferred to Sword and Shield from other games.
  • Many Pokémon are unplayable in Pokémon Sword and Shield.
  • These Pokémon can still be stored in Pokémon Home, though the benefit is unknown at the time of this writing.
  • The Pokémon cut is due to technical, and time limitations.
  • The developers are using this as an opportunity to balance the competitive scene for tournaments.

So what do I make of this issue? I don’t like it that is for sure. The best thing I can say about the decision to cut Pokémon is that it is understandable, as technical limitations were bound to catch up with the games eventually. Please note that even though I am saying this, I’m not defending the decision, nor am I saying it is a good thing. 

The best thing for the developers to do is to be transparent in to following months about Pokémon Sword and Shield, and well as Pokémon Home. It would be best if they can help fans plan on which old Pokémon will be transferable to games after Sword and Shield, assuming that future games will bring back old favorites. It will be important to let fans know if other games will have compatibility issues with the full roster of Pokémon. If they will update this game or future games to have a full roster, they should mention this sooner rather than later. The technical issues leading to cut content may not be controllable, but limiting fan backlash is.

Lastly, I get the feeling that Sword and Shield may still be a good game, but won’t be the masterpiece it looked like it might have been prior to the reveal of this issue. There are new features like dynamax and max raid battles to look forward to, as well as higher graphical fidelity. I would like to insist that everyone thinks for themselves as to whether this game is worth buying, and not just jump on a bandwagon of hate. Pokémon Sword and Shield may still have something worthwhile to offer, even if it doesn’t have every expected feature. The game is still five months away from release, and a lot can change in that time.


So I felt I had to put my two cents in on the issue of cut content in Pokémon Sword and Shield. I would like to generate a healthy discussion about this game, so if you have a positive or negative spin on this issue, please leave a reason why you feel the way you do in the comments below, and please be civil to each other. If you liked this article, be sure to click that like button. You can also subscribe via email to That’s All Games to get updates when this blog gets a new article. Until next time, have fun gaming!

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One thought on “The State of Pokemon Sword and Shield (June 2019)

  1. “The Pokémon cut is due to technical, and time limitations.”

    That rubbish, all of the models are done, it was literally a matter of putting new textures on them. Are they really telling me that they had the time to animate all of the Pokemon in sun/moon with walking and running animation (that they didn’t end up using), yet they can’t be bothered to update textures?
    Plus that implies the 3ds is more powerful then the switch?

    “The developers are using this as an opportunity to balance the competitive scene for tournaments.”
    They will never fix that problem, IV states are too easily manipulated and there are just some Pokemon with crazy numbers. The only way you can really balance it is with the type chart (that’s why fairy was added).

    The battles look very lifeless outside of the new ‘dynamax’ mechanic.
    I hope raid battles come back….I wish anything would come back.

    Like

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