Nothing could halt the hype train for Pokémon Sword and Shield leading up to E3.
The handful of early demos preceding Game Freak’s attendance of this year’s expo had all but cemented the two Switch titles’ desirability. A new region to explore, stories to experience and Pokémon to catch – this time in a fully 3D world rendered by more powerful hardware – what wasn’t to love? And yet, in spite of all that overwhelming positivity, all it took was one startling revelation to trigger an almost immediate evaporation of adoration.
The dealbreaker we’re referencing, of course, is Game Freak’s decision not to include a National Pokédex in Sword and Shield. As a result of that choice, Trainers will, for the first time in the series’ history, be unable to port over their entire collections from past entries, unsurprisingly leaving many up in arms over Game Freak’s perceived laziness. In fact, some have criticized the studio for simply copy-and-pasting character models and other assets from the 3DS over to Switch.
That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.
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As it turns out, cramming over 1,000 Pokémon into a single game simply wasn’t technically possible, according to members of the development team. In an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu (translated by Reddit user BrokenWho) staff reiterate that, while attempts were made to port model data from 3DS to Switch, the process was unreliable, meaning such assets needed to be made from scratch. Interestingly, the article also notes how even in 2016’s Sun and Moon, bringing in every Pokémon was a barely manageable task. With further variables in the form of Dynamax and Gigantamax present on top of that, production and balancing issues became a nightmare.
Sadly, there’s no silver lining here. Game Freak isn’t going to change its mind because it clearly has no choice in the matter. With that said, if the developer had been this forthcoming with an explanation right out the gate, perhaps the outrage would have been far less pronounced?
Regardless, Pokémon Sword and Shield still look to be solid additions to the franchise and will surely attract glowing reviews come launch in November.