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It started in 1996, when you had to pick your first Pokémon on the Gameboy. Since then Pokémon as a Role Playing Game (RPG) has moved with the times – and the Nintendo handheld systems – to become the second most sold video game series in history.
First on Gameboy, then Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS and eventually the Nintendo 3DS family, new titles raked in new records.
This week Pokémon made its latest jump to Nintendo Switch with the release of Sword and Shield (making it the most powerful game in the series yet in terms of graphics and in-world gaming).
In the year that saw the release of the first live action Pokémon movie – Detective Pikachu – it’s no surprise that Pokémon Sword and Shield is already the best-selling video game of 2019 in the UK.
But what makes it so great? Well, it’s a return to true-form Pokémon RPG with a real sense of modern gaming sensibilities.
The last true RPGs to be released were Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon on the 3DS family. What made them unique was they continued a 3D overhead perspective, and the introduction of a new storyline where players took on island trails instead of the usual gym leaders.
A lot of the good from Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon was employed for the first Pokémon title on the Switch Let’s Go Eevee and Let’s Go Pikachu. But these aren’t true RPG’s since the titles took a lot of mechanics from Pokémon Go and merged it with a remake of Pokémon Yellow.
It’s effectiveness was that it introduced new gameplay where Pokémon encounters in the overworld weren’t random. You can see Pokémon and decide if you want to interact with it or not. This style of gameplay makes speedruns through caves or wild areas much less annoying.
The RPG series is known for at-random encounters with wild Pokémon which can become tedious when you’re trying to clear an area to get to the next gym to battle. It can also suck the life out of your team of Pokémon and see you running to Nurse Joy often.
In the latest game you get to explore the Galar Region in the first-ever Pokémon core RPG for Nintendo Switch. What makes it such an exciting new game is that it’s a marriage between the traditional RPG and the Let’s Go games.
The biggest joy is the fact that again you are able to see Pokémon in the overworld, and encounters won’t always be random. When you do encounter a random creature you’re warned.
One of the new battle mechanics include the Dynamax and Gigantamax Phenomenon (much in the vein of Mega Evolutions in Sun and Moon, Ultra Ruby and Mega Sapphire and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon).
When Pokémon Dynamax, their power is boosted and they become much more difficult to catch and take down. In very rare occurrences, some Pokémon can go one step further by Gigantamaxing.
When Pokémon Gigantamax, they become bigger, alter their appearance and use powerful G-Max Moves that regular Dynamax Pokémon cannot use.
In celebration of the launch, trainers can sign up today for the first official Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Online Competition Galar Beginnings. Trainers can register for this competition until December 5.
The competition is from December 6 to December 8 and it will use a Single Battle format. A Nintendo Switch Online membership and a Nintendo Account are required for online competitions.
Pokémon Sword and Shield is proof that the game evolves with each new handheld, and after 23 years of gaming domination is able to provide a whole new way of catching them all.
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