How Pokémon Sword & Shield’s younger staff affected the game

Pokémon Sword and Shield’s development team had input from younger employees, which helped shape the Galar region and new gameplay mechanics.

A development in gameplay was achieved when Pokémon Sword and Shield was released in the fall of 2019. Unlike many earlier Pokémon games in the series, Sword and Shield introduced a new way for gamers to embark on a Pokémon training journey, all while taking advantage of the Nintendo Switch’s capabilities as both a portable and home console. However, it has been revealed that the younger staff on the development team were a big part of the changes that were made to help the new title in Pokémon series appeal to modern audiences as they stand up to the fierce competition already released for Switch.


That Pokémon games have remained stable and predictable since their release on Game Boy twenty-five years ago. Players get a region-specific starter companion and then embark on a journey to collect eight Gym Badges and challenge the Elite Four while tackling an evil team up to spooky plots along the way. But what started as a simple, pixelated adventure in Pokémon red, blue and yellow in 1998 had become a recurring blow with the release of Pokémon Sun and Moon in 2016. To help try to combat the aging mechanics and outdated graphics, Game Freak began implementing new story elements and challenges that players had to tackle, as well as new combat mechanics like Z-Moves and Mega Evolution.

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However, Sword and Shield was a very different game than the one previously seen in the series. A rich narrative was complemented by crisp graphics and full 3D models of customizable playable characters. That Elite Four was replaced of a fast-paced Championship Cup match, and long routes were replaced with an open-world-inspired, exploratory Wild Area. A wide variety of Pokémon species were available from early in the game, giving players access to a much better strategy for Gym challenges, while improvements in quality of life such as camping and Pokémon Storage access allowed players to continue exploring and tackling targets. without having to stop at Pokémon Centers.

Pokémon Sword & Shield’s young staff added their voices to gala development

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In an interview with Nintendo Alt, Director Shigeru Omori and Planning Director Kazumasa Iwao revealed surprising information about the development of Pokémon Sword and Shield. To make the game a great experience on the Nintendo Switch both in handheld mode or in docking, they knew that changes had to be made from previous games. To help transform the new Pokémon title, Game Freak gave younger employees new opportunities, bringing new voices into key positions for game development. In addition, Omori chose to divide the work according to the interests of the employees, which ensured that love and passion would help create a polished and authentic feel for the final product.

It is this choice that could probably be the reason why so many players have enjoyed the diverse gameplay in Pokémon Sword and Shield. The game offers several ways to engage in difficult battles, explore areas or complete side quests regardless of playing style. It is also one of the first Pokémon titles remain relevant long after release thanks to Max Raid multiplayer battles and events that regularly refresh the gameplay. Sword and Shield has also paved the way for the future Pokémon titles thanks to experimental gameplay and may have opened the door to the groundbreaking upcoming title Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which will greatly change how players have engaged in a Pokémon journey in previous games.

Pokémon Sword & Shield helps draw the player into the story

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One of the biggest changes in Pokémon Sword and Shield is how fans interact with the narrative. From the start of the game, players have the opportunity to clearly see their character, as well as adapt them to a more immersive and relatable experience. Instead of an arrogant rival and additional characters that lack personality, players are given a rich narrative made up of complex and emotionally engaging NPCs. Hop and Pray both have matches that are actively shown as the player meets them, and the difficulty of being a Gym Leader in the Galar region encounters in areas like Spikemuth where President Rose has run the city into the ground after Gym leader Piers refuses to move its Gym to a location that supports Dynamax and Gigantamax battles.

Related: Pokémon Legends: Arceus’ research missions are a huge change for the series

The change in the “evil team” antagonists is also surprising and refreshing. Early in Sword and Shield, players are introduced to Team Yell, which seems to be the group causing problems in this game. However, the red herring cans are eventually revealed to be nothing more than overly enthusiastic Dark Gym trainers from Spikemuth who intend to support Marnie. Instead, it is revealed that President Rose, the runs the Galar Championship, is the antagonist lurking in the shadows. This change of pace in a Pokémon the tale is both refreshing and surprising, giving both old and new fans of the series a truly engaging and hair-raising mystery to solve, and it may be thanks to the influence of younger members of Game Freak’s development team.

Sword and Shield also groundbreaking for Pokémon franchise with the addition of the DLC expansion card included Isle of Armor and Krontundraen. Both content enhancements added new areas, Pokémon, and targets for post-game play, allowing players to explore the Galar region after completing the main story. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild used a similar expansion pass concept to add a few extra elements and modes Sword and Shield expansion pass set an example and a president for what to add using paid DLC. Both expansions add tens of thousands of hours of gameplay, as well as new characters and ways of interacting with locations already leaving in Gala’s base game map.

While change can be daunting for both fans and creators, the choice to innovate and try new things can present new players, as well as longtime fans, with new challenges. The changes made in Sword and Shield has allowed players to enjoy one Pokémon series generation easier with others as you rediscover the joys and triumphs that come as part of a coaching journey. Hopefully, Game Freak will continue to include voices from younger creators, allowing for the future Pokémon titles to further adapt to both audience preferences and console options. By doing so, games that follow Pokémon Sword and Shield could help set new expectations in motion and create more ways to enjoy a beloved series.

Next: Pokémon Legends: Arceus risks destroying what made Arceus so special

Source: Nintendo Alt

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