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Happy Birthday Sword and Shield!

It’s official: as of this Sunday, November 15, 2020, Pokémon Sword and Shield has turned a year old, and what a year it has been. Obviously, 2020 has been quite the rollercoaster, but for many, playing games such as Animal Crossing and Sword and Shield has been one of the much-needed comforts in such turbulent times. Even aside from the maelstrom of a year that 2020 has been, the eighth generation of Pokémon games had some controversies of its own to deal with. So, let’s take a look at a year in the life of Sword and Shield.

Sword and Shield
Image Courtesy of Nintendo

The first generation of Pokémon games was released back in 1996 and, as a franchise, few other games have matched its cultural impact. As such, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the release of  Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Following the lead of 2018’s Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!—remakes of 1998’s Pokémon YellowSword and Shield were released for the home console, Nintendo Switch. Previously, the central games in the series were released for Nintendo’s various Gameboy/Nintendo D.S. systems. 

Sword and Shield introduced players to the Galar region, a fictional area inspired by the United Kingdom. They also showcased 81 new Pokémon along with 13 Galar-specific versions of pre-existing Pokémon, special features such as Dynamaxing, Gigantamaxing, and the open-world “Wild Area,” which allowed for co-op raids. However, one thing the games didn’t include was all 890 of the established Pokémon, removing the National Pokédex. As detailed in an article from Dot Esports, this led to “toxic movement on social media, widely referred to as Dexit, resulting in Game Freak and Nintendo employees being harassed by disappointed fans.”

Pokemon Shield
Image Courtesy of Nintendo

This “toxic movement” was also partly inspired by issues with the games’ online connectivity and the fact that a number of the features that make Sword and Shield so novel are locked behind the Expansion Pass that needs to be purchased in addition to the two games. Still, a year after the game’s release, compatibility has continued to develop between Sword and Shield and some of the other Pokémon games. That, along with new means to transfer Pokémon and other tools facilitating the playing of Pokémon competitively, have set the games apart from their predecessors in some exciting ways.

Overall, with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield turning one as of the 15th of this month, it’s worth noting that the games have sold over 19.02 million units. That figure comes from Nintendo as of September, so it’s safe to assume that quite a few more units have been sold and those figures don’t include DLC (Downloadable Content), in this case the Expansion Passes. The franchise may be 24-years-old as a whole, but Game Freak/Nintendo/The Pokémon Company have quite the bundles of joy in one-year-old twins, Sword and Shield, regardless of the controversies that may have accompanied their debut.

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