Nintendon’t Do This To Your Franchise – Senioritis

Nintendon’t Do This To Your Franchise


For those of you who aren’t die-hard Pokémon fans, a new “generation” came out on November 15. These two games, called Pokémon Sword & Shield, excited fans because they were the first main series Pokémon games to be on the Nintendo Switch, giving the series room to grow on its superior hardware. But fans were appalled by Nintendo’s own hype for a game that didn’t deliver, causing #GameFreakLied to trend on Twitter and many Pokémon masters to boycott Pokémon Sword & Shield. Why was there such backlash?

The last Nintendo Switch Pokémon games, Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee! & Let’s Go Pikachu! came out just one year before for the Switch, and the last main series game came out just two years before. Usually when making big games, Game Freak gives itself two years to get the job done. But as technology improves, game production becomes more detailed and takes more time to achieve. It’s clear that Game Freak didn’t give Pokémon Sword & Shield enough time. One example of how games are becoming more rushed is in their comparison to Pokémon Black & White vs Black 2 & White 2. These games, one released in 2010 and the other in 2012, although underappreciated by the fanbase, were the prime example of how to recreate a game to add in the missing features the production team didn’t have time for in the first game: it was a new story. You could play Pokémon Black or White and Pokémon Black 2 or White 2 on their own, and while the latters were obviously better developed, the formers didn’t appear like a waste of money in comparison. Pokémon Black 2 & White 2 each took place two years after the original games, and although most was similar, there were just enough adjustments (a construction site finally finished, several new gym leaders and areas, mentions of your past character’s achievements, etc.) to be an entirely new game. When it was revealed that Pokémon Sun & Moon would have sequel games, known as Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon, myself and other fans predicted new games, like in Pokémon Black 2 & White 2. However, the “Ultra” games were simply the originals with a few extra features. This made Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon no more than a way for Nintendo to earn money for rushing their initial release. I predict that this is exactly what will happen to Pokémon Sword & Shield; the game was rushed, and in a few years, there will be another release with all of the bugs finally worked out. Fans, when purchasing, and Nintendo, when creating, keep this in mind: better games come to those who wait.

With the core mistake out of the way, what are some of the issues with Pokémon Sword & Shield as a result?

Most Pokémon games take anywhere from 30-80 hours to complete. Pokémon Sword & Shield, however, have a lot less content, boasting 20-30 hours of gameplay with no postgame content. Quality over quantity does not apply here, however, as there are many bugs that need worked out after release: game crashing, lag, poor render distance, and the world freezing when climbing ladders being just a few. There is more hand holding in the new games than ever before, and the games have become easier and easier to complete. In addition, there are catching restrictions, making it so you can’t catch more powerful Pokémon than the last gym you’ve defeated allows you. There’s also a permanent exp share, taking away the freedom of the player to adjust that setting to control what Pokémon they’re leveling up. If there’s no challenge and more restrictions, games simply aren’t as fun. Stylistically, the game have disappointing graphics, backgrounds, and animations. In the game developing world, these are just clear examples of lazy production, especially when compared to the quality of games Game Freak has been able to release in the past and other games that have come out for the same hardware, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Most frustrating however, is the lack of a National Pokédex and many other cuts to make this game even shallower in terms of content. More than 800 Pokémon have been created over the 20 years that the franchise has been around, and they have all shown up in each main series game at some point. In Pokémon Sword & Shield, however, only 400 are available to capture. As most of the models were transferred over from Pokémon Ultra Sun & Moon anyway, it would not have been difficult to add the rest post-game. The issue with this, however, is not why Pokémon were cut, it’s over which ones were removed. Who decides which Pokémon are worthy of continuing to have the spotlight? Not the fans, as there was an uproar over some of the most popular Pokémon, including Bulbasaur and Squirtle, not being put in the new games. Also, 144 TMs (discs that allow moves to be taught to Pokémon that don’t learn them naturally) were cut. Mega Evolutions are not included, nor are Z Moves, which are both highly-favored recent additions to the games, in exchange for the new “Gigantamax” feature, which is similar to that of Totem Pokémon in Pokémon Sun & Moon. With all these in mind, the new games are worth cutting out of your headcanon and your wishlist just as Game Freak cut quality work to produce a $60 game in time for Christmas.

Finally, let’s compare this situation to a popular one that affects many high school students: senioritis. When you’ve been in school, doing the same things every day, for years and years, you get lazy. You learn to cut corners and do the bare minimum to earn a good grade. Game Freak’s been at this game production game for a long time, and at this point, Pokémon isn’t an art. It’s just about finishing the job to earn the paycheck at the end of the day. They’ve lost passion for production, just as students lose any motivation to be their very best. But while students are giving up on their dreams, Game Freak is losing ground to other rising companies and has no choice but to keep beating the fainted Pokémon horse to stay alive.

So this Black Friday, I urge you: don’t buy Pokémon Sword or Shield. Don’t reward Nintendo with your money for a low-quality game. Hold them to a higher standard of production, and if they can’t meet it, let the Pokémon series have what Sakurai always wanted for Super Smash Bros: an ending.