If you’ve been following the controversy surrounding November 15th’s release of Pokemon Sword and Shield on the Nintendo Switch, then you know about Dexit — the moniker Pokefans attached to Game Freak’s decision to cut the usable number of in-game Pokemon in half.
>10 routes in the entire game
>64% of the Pokedex cut
>144 moves cut
>no Elite 4
>no post game
>all gym leaders have a max of 3 Pokemon
>story is only 10 hours long
>cities are empty
>game costs $60 with less content than a $40 game#GameFreakLied
— Wilfre Nakamoto (@WilfreNakamoto) November 13, 2019
You’re also probably knowledgeable of the subsequent #GameFreakLied, as of this writing the #1 trending topic on Twitter in the US, a hashtag which communicates the fanbase’s indignation over Game Freak’s rationale for the Dexit decision being attributed to delivering better animations, a more carefully crafted game and better in-game Pokemon models — an excuse which has been proven to be very misleading by dataminers who confirmed that most models in the game are reused from a previous Pokemon iteration, right down to the polygon count. (For an extensive look at the grievances fans have with Game Freak’s handling of Pokemon Sword/Shield, check out this detailed list from Redditor Terotu.)
White: Pokemon Sw/Sh | Black: Pokemon Sun and Moon
Despite all the contention, however, the early reviews for Pokemon Sword/Shield have been predominantly favorable. IGN’s Casey DeFreitas scored the game an “Amazing” 9.3, describing it as “one of the best Pokémon games I’ve ever played, and I’ve played them all,” and stating “Very few things in life can make me as happy as a great Pokemon RPG, and Sword and Shield repeatedly left me in a state of pure, child-like joy.”
Casey isn’t the only game reviewer from a major publication who seems unphased by the Dexit and #GameFreakLied disputations:
Take GameSpot’s Kallie Plaige, for instance, who gave the game a “Superb” 9/10: “This is the most balanced a Pokemon game has felt in a long time, and with that, Sword and Shield mark the best new generation of Pokemon games in years.”
Or the Verge’s Andrew Webster: “Pokemon Sword and Shield are the best Pokemon games in years… I’ve ventured into countless pokémon gyms over the past two decades, but nothing has ever felt as thrilling as the massive stadiums in Pokémon Sword and Shield.”
Other favorable reviews include GameInformer’s 8.75/10, GamesRadar’s 4.5/5, EGM’s 8/10 and NintendoLife’s 8/10. Not all the reviews are glowing, however.
Most notably, EuroGamer’s Chris Tapsell’s review, who shares this forthright assessment:
Sword and Shield’s Wild Area is desperately flat. There will undoubtedly be a moment of shivers, if you’re a long-term fan, when you first see Pokémon roaming the world and you finally get to gaze around that space yourself. But that moment will wear off when you realise you’ve already seen it all. And it’ll fade from memory entirely when you inevitably hop back on the rails from which you have just at last broken free. What is intended as a great, Breath of the Wild step forward quickly turns to two giant leaps back, and with these games that sad irony is everywhere. Pokémon Sword and Shield project a sense of scale and ambition far beyond any previous ones in the series, but to take it back to those gargantuan new Dynamax forms, the size is merely a shadow. A shallow projection, in place of the real thing.
Metro’s review also voices concern:
The biggest problem with Pokémon Sword and Shield is that it is incredibly easy to take issue with, not so much in terms of its intrinsic flaws but the enormous potential it has to be so much more than it is.
Pokémon is such an intrinsically entertaining concept it’s infuriating to see it not reach its full potential. On portable consoles it usually did but it is not making anything close to full use of the Switch. Even if you ignore the technical issues there’s a distinct lack of new features beyond dynamaxing and the Wild Area, with no other major gimmicks or complications.
Notwithstanding, the MetaCritic score for Pokemon Sword and Shield currently sits at 81 (with a total of 18 reviews) and we expect the score to end up around that figure when all is said and done. But should it? Should Game Freak be lauded for a game which many longtime fans of the series believe the designers cut corners with, lied about and went through the motions with for its first considerable console release?
Let us know what you think in the comments.