6 Incredible Facts About Pokémon Sword & Shield Everyone Forgets

Sword & Shield's new Gigantamax feature lets Pikachu hit the big time.

6 Incredible Facts About Pokémon Sword & Shield Everyone Forgets

Pokémon Sword & Shield ushered in the eighth generation of the illustrious franchise. They were also the first main-series games on the Nintendo Switch. It was preceded on the Switch by Let’s Go Pikachu & Eevee. These remakes of the original Pokémon games relied on the more simplistic gameplay of Pokémon GO. As the first proper games on the Switch, Sword & Shield represented a return to form for the series, as well as an evolution. That said, it was not without issues of its own. For the first time in the series, Sword & Shield limited which Pokémon could be brought into the game from previous titles. The National Pokédex controversy, as it became known, earned the title a lot of ill will. In spite of this, though, there’s still a lot to love about Pokémon Sword & Shield. Here are some of the coolest things these games contributed to Pokémon canon.

#1: The Return of Gyms

The Gigantamax feature allows Pokemon to take massive new forms.
The Gigantamax feature allows Pokemon to take massive new forms.

While Pokémon Sword & Shield is remembered mainly for removing Pokémon from previous generations, there is one thing it also added back in. Pokémon Gyms have been a mainstay of the franchise since the beginning. These locations are all themed after one Pokémon type and offer trainers a chance to take on the most prominent trainers in the region. Sword & Shield’s predecessor, Pokémon Sun & Moon, removed these iconic locations in lieu of Island Trials. These fit the lore, but were a pretty radical departure from the gyms that players have come to know and love. Sword & Shield undid this change, and brought back the traditional gym system. The gyms were even enhanced by the game’s cultural influences. Since Sword & Shield’s Galar region is based on British culture, each gym culminates in a cinematic showdown with the gym leader, complete with a roaring crowd.

#2: Customize Your Game

Even the game's menu has a trick up its sleeve.
Even the game’s menu has a trick up its sleeve.

It may not be a major feature, but Pokémon Sword & Shield does include a handy little way for you to improve your quality of life while playing. While navigating the in-game menu, you can press Y to rearrange the icons. This lets you put features you use more often up front, where they’ll be easier to reach. Compared to many features like the iconic Gigantamax feature, this isn’t that big a deal. But some fans can get very particular about their UI layouts. It’s nice to have the option for those who need it.

#3: New Co-Op Raids

Trainers facing down Gigantamax Charizard in Pokemon Sword and Shield.

The Pokémon franchise has always had a huge focus on community. Since the early days, the series has let players trade Pokémon back and forth, and even battle each other. Sword & Shield introduced a unique new addition to the franchise’s iconic multiplayer offerings. In Galar, players could participate in Max Raid Battles. These special fights allowed several fans to team up and take on special Gigantamaxed Pokémon for special rewards. Max Raid Battles breathed a lot of life into the game’s dynamic. They also allowed players to forge bonds and make teams with other fans across the world. This was such a successful inclusion for the game that its sequel, Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, brought them back. Tera Raid battles offer a similar format to their Max Raid predecessors. There’s a good chance that we’ll see more raids down the line, as well.

#4: Gearing Up For Open-World

A Lapras swimming in the wild
A screenshot of a Lapras swimming in Pokémon Sword and Shield.

Pokémon Sword & Shield were followed in the main series by Scarlet & Violet. These were advertised as the first open-world RPGs in the Pokémon franchise. Many fans have responded well to this new design choice, considering it a high point amidst the unfortunate technical issues that plagued the title. Fans of Scarlet & Violet’s open-world nature can thank Sword & Shield, which set the stage for the franchise’s open-world shift. Much of Galar is taken up by the Wild Area, an open realm that players can freely explore. This region even boasts a dynamic weather system, adding a level of immersion that also impacts the behavior of Pokémon in the area. While much of Sword & Shield remains as linear as its forebears, the Wild Area has proven to be an enticing look at things to come for the series as a whole.

#5: Pokémon Sword & Shield’s Impressive Sales Stats

Toxtricity's amped up form is a high-energy punk rocker in Pokemon form.

While the launch of Pokémon Sword & Shield may have been mired in controversy, it still pulled through in a big way. The game sold more than 6 million copies in its opening weekend. This let it surpass other wildly successful Switch titles like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It walked away from its debut with a launch more successful than any Pokémon title that had come before, as per Business Insider. As of September 2023, well after the launch of its successor Scarlet & Violet, Sword & Shield remains the second highest-selling Pokémon game to date, after Red & Blue themselves. This is quite a feat for such a controversial title.

#6: Beloved New Pokémon

Corviknight is a powerful and imposing bird with a valuable role in Galar's infrastructure.
Corviknight is a powerful and imposing bird with a valuable role in Galar’s infrastructure.

The Pokédex controversy is an unfortunate stain on the legacy of Pokémon Sword & Shield. While it’s an understandably insurmountable flaw for many fans, it shouldn’t overshadow the clever and creative new Pokémon that Game Freak added to the roster in Galar. Generation 8 had some excellent Pokémon, some of which impacted the game outside of battles. Corviknight, for example, is not only a potent addition to any Pokémon team but an integral part of Galar’s infrastructure. The game’s taxi service allows you to use Corviknight as a sort of fast travel system. This imposing bird is just one of the many delightful beasts Pokémon Sword & Shield added to the roster.

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