Having played Pokémon Shield for close to 100 hours, and as I have just hit the 25 hours mark on Pokémon Sword, I can now comfortably declare that I think generation 8 is in the top three Pokémon generations of all time.
I have not played, and have no intention of playing, Brilliant Diamond or Shining Pearl as I never liked generation 4 when I first played it, and the remakes look they have been churned out with minimal effort. Unlike Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire who remained consistent with the main games of the 6th generation which they were released in, X and Y, and introduced new Mega evolutions; BDSP do nothing new and don’t even carry over the improved graphics and animations from Sword and Shield.
I am yet to play Pokémon Legends Arceus but it will be one of my next game purchases, and the more I see and hear, the more excited I am to play it.
Purely off the strength of Sword and Shield alone, I think generation 8 is the second best generation of the RPG games, ahead of 2 and behind my all time favourites, 5. Generation 5 was comprised of the two games I believed to be the weakest in the franchise until Sun and Moon (not counting Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon) came along, Black and White. Similarly to my point as to how generation 8 is one of the best ever, the outstanding quality of the 5th rests solely on the shoulders of Black 2 and White 2. I have sunk hundreds of hours into these two games, and if they’re ever remade will certainly sink another 100 hours happily.
The frontrunner reason for why I rate Sword and Shield so highly is because of how great the characters and story are. Hop can be as annoying as the rivals from previous games, but he carries with him an endearing quality of seeking to become as strong as he current Champion, his elder brother Leon. The eclectic group of Gym Leaders, including the variations across the two games, are simultaneously engaging as characters whilst also giving players something rarely seen in Pokemon games: the hunger to defeat them.
I can’t go this entire article without emphasising how good the Dynamax and Gigantamax mechanics are. I was as openly sceptical as anyone else when it was revealed they would be the new gimmick for the generation, but the anticipation of your opponent Dynamaxing their last Pokémon in the same turn you do yours cannot be overstated. This mechanic / gimmick is lent extra weight by each of the gyms being stadiums scattered across the Galar region, complete with cheering chanting crowds and a real celebratory feel at the conclusion of every match.
The new Pokémon introduced for the generation are exceptional as well. Stand-outs like Galarian Slowking (added post-launch but still counts), Grapploct, Orbeetle and of course my boy Toxtricity were welcome new additions to the formula. Regardless of your favourite type you cannot deny how cool it is to finally have a Poison / Electric type!
Sword and Shield were the first mainline games to receive expansion packs, and while the pricing of the season pass was indisputably a little high, there were so many places to explore, new Pokémon to find and challenges to overcome that you could get as many hours out of both the Isle of Armor and the Crown Tundra as you wanted. I highly appreciated that the conclusion of the latter expansion added a higher difficulty level tournament at the final stadium you reach in Wyndon.
As I’m only calling these games the second best ever I have to make a couple of concessions for things I think could have been done better. Team Yell were faintly amusing for the first couple of times they appeared, but grew stale and repetitive, moreso than other antagonist teams, the more time you have to spend near them. The long anticipated addition of a Dark type gym did go some way to make up for them, but ultimately they never felt like a threat or obstacle I wanted to overcome.
I also never really liked the designs of the cover Legendary Pokémon, Zacian and Zamazenta, and even when I got to use both of them they weren’t particularly fun either. The Fairy / Steel and Fighting / Steel types are fairly bland as well, like most dual Steel types (yeah, I’m a Steel hater). I think Zacian would have been improved by a Fairy / Fighting typing, and Zamazenta with something like Fairy / Rock. I know you can’t exactly call the games Sword and Shield and then not go all in on Steel type Legends but there’s no getting around they’re both pretty boring Pokémon. Solgaleo from generation 7 was a Psychic / Steel Legendary and was incredible in its design as well as to use in battle, proof that the Steel type can be done well!
If you are yet to pick up Sword or Shield then I implore you to do so. The early hours are positively dripping with nostalgia for early games, as well as little British quips to keep you reminded this is a newer game you are playing, assisted of course by the shinier graphics.
What is your opinion of the 8th generation of Pokémon games? Let me know this and how high / low they feature on your all time ranking of the games down in the comments. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back again soon.