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‘Pokémon Sword and Shield,’ Generation Eight the Best Reveal to Date?

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Title announcements, starter unveilings, cover Pokémon teases, all are exciting reveals for Pokémon fans as anticipation builds toward a new game. With global releases, the advent of Nintendo Directs, and improved company communications in general, new Pokémon generation reveals and game announcements seem to be getting better and better, with the reveal of Pokémon Sword and Shield for Nintendo Switch a serviceable new addition. Actually, this may even be the best Pokémon unveiling ever compared to previous announcements and teases.

Pokémon Direct

Over the past few years, some semblance of a pattern has emerged with regard to the way the Pokémon Company and Nintendo reveal and promote new entries in the core Pokémon series. Preceding any true reveal, development is announced in a press statement from The Pokémon Company (TPCi) or Nintendo. The game is then teased or revealed at the beginning of the release year in January or February, though how much is revealed varies. Additional information arrives in April and or May, frequently including the cover Pokémon and or cover art as well as more defined release window. The rest of the information tends to come from direct uploads to the official Pokémon YouTube channel or through CoroCoro (a Japanese magazine with a long history of exclusive Pokémon stories and tie-ins) that are picked up and distributed to the Western world. So far, Sword and Shield fit into this trend perfectly.

Though this reveal schedule may have originated earlier, it was solidified with the release of and Y in 2013, though traces of it are visible in Black and White‘s reveal. The announcement of Black and White preceded the Nintendo Direct format, however, and there was no initial reveal trailer, no major press event, and relatively little fanfare when the fifth generation of Pokémon first emerged. Instead, taking a page from the transition from Kanto to Johto (Red/Blue to Gold/Silver), the first tease for the fifth generation was a silhouette of a then new Pokémon revealed on a Pokémon variety show in Japan in February, 2010. That Pokémon, Zoroark, was later at the center of the thirteenth Pokémon movie in anticipation of Black and White, not unlike Togepi, Marill, and Donphan all making an appearance in the anime/films prior to the release of Gold and Silver. The actual titles and title art for Black and White, weren’t announced until April 9, 2010 in a quick press release followed up when the cover Pokémon, cover art, and release date were uploaded on Pokémon’s website.

Pokémon Black and White

While that follows relatively the same framework (teases emerging in February, additional information provided two to three months later), the reveal of Sword and Shield is closer to the reveal of Pokémon X and Y in the first ever Pokémon Direct in January, 2013. Where Sword and Shield‘s direct was focused exclusively on the newly announced titles, the first Pokémon Direct primarily focused on the evolution of the franchise and its features and concluded with a short trailer for and Y. In that trailer, general gameplay was revealed, the starters were introduced through a title card and in game footage, and the new region, Kalos, and cover legendaries, Yveltal and Xerneas, were teased, though not named or discussed. The inclusion of the cover Pokémon might give the illusion of more information revealed by and Y‘s introduction, but more was ultimately disclosed in the SwordShield reveal.

With announcements close to or on Pokémon Day, February 27th (the anniversary of the release of Pocket Monsters Red and Green in Japan), and only three years between them, it’s easiest to compare the announcement of the eighth generation to the seventh. Sun and Moon‘s unveiling ended up being nothing more than the reveal of the game’s title artwork in a Pokémon Direct similar to, but shorter than and Y‘s which celebrated the franchise’s twenty year history and disclosed the release of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow on Virtual Console. On May 10, 2016 a more proper unveiling occurred when TPCi uploaded an additional trailer to their YouTube that unveiled brief footage of the Alola region, the generation seven starters, the cover Pokemon (again without typings or names), and a release date.

Pokémon Sun and Moon

After only one Direct, more is known about Pokémon Sword and Shield than was known about Sun and Moon after two. While revelations are limited, we can indisputably confirm a number of things and infer even more. We know generation eight takes place in the Galar region, clearly based on Great Britain (complete with its own version of Big Ben), the full map of which has already been revealed. The new environment totes diverse terrains including the “idyllic countryside, contemporary cities, thick forests, and craggy, snow-covered mountains,” not unlike, say, Britain. Replete with steam and iron, the game seems to take inspiration from the Industrial Revolution and England’s notable position in that chapter of history. Mist, steam, moss coated stones, textured brick and metal, amongst other striking sights- like a Fletchling weather vane and a mysterious etching  in the hillside- make for what appears to be the most detailed Pokémon title to date.

The return of random encounters and gyms is also confirmed after their notable absence from Let’s Go and the seventh generation respectively. Gone are the wide-eyed sprites of Let’s Go, replaced with something more akin to Sun and Moon, though looking sharper than ever on the Switch’s more capable hardware. We can also assume the inclusion of Pokémon featured in the trailer, including two pseudo-legendaries, Tyranitar and Hydreigon, fan-favorite Lucario, and, of course, Pikachu. The rest of the Pokédex much beyond that is anyone’s guess, though Aegislash seems like a logical inclusion, as well as Bisharp, Escavalier, and Accelgor if the game runs with a chivalrous theme.

Pokemon Sword & Shield Review Podcast

Sword and Shield‘s starters also made their debut, perhaps leaving more of an impression than any before and with more perceivable character thanks to the gorgeous, cinematic introduction they received, a first for the franchise. The impact of the animated introduction has been immediate, and now fans are looking beyond the starters designs when selecting their partner Pokémon, giving more weight to the perceivable personalities instead. Sobble, the timid water lizard, has made quite a splash thanks to its disarmingly shy persona and is currently the most popular of the three thanks to the cinematic. Other fans are bouncing with excitement over Scorbunny, the energetic fire rabbit. That’s not to say that Grookey, the mischievous grass chimp, doesn’t have a gang of his own supporters. The popularity of the Pokémon could shift, of course, as soon as their evolutions are revealed. Will Sobble be the next Greninja? Is Grookey doomed to become a big, slow, grass Gorilla (Growrilla?), or will his stick become a bow staff and we’ll have a new martial arts monkey a la Goku…I mean Infernape.

We also don’t know if the abilities demonstrated in the trailer imply new starting abilities. Literally every starter thus far has had either Blaze, Overgrow, or Torrent, but could Sobble’s camouflage, Scorbunny’s ability to scorch earth, and Grookey’s ability to regenerate that grass signify something? Or perhaps that’s looking at it wrong, and the reveal is actually alluding to their evolutions. Sobble is, again, a timid water lizard with the ability to cloak himself in water. Is he destined to become the regionally appropriate Loch Ness Monster? Will Scorbunny evolve in to Bunburn and Hopscorch (I’m good at naming Pokémon)? Could Grookey go dark and be the next Incineroar? There’s no saying. There’s also no real indication of the starters’ second typings, but if I had to take a stab in the dark I’d guess Sobble is Water/Steel because he’ll have nerves of steel by the end, Scorbunny will be Fire/Fairy based on looks alone, and Grookey will undoubtably be Grass/Fighting, thus completely two full triangles. Again, who knows. Maybe Pokémon will throw us for a loop and Scorbunny will use its ears to fly and become a Fire/Flying type named Hareocopter or Hareplane (Actually, I’m incredible at naming Pokémon. These names are bunbelievable!…Sorry….), meaning Sobble is Water/Rock, and Grookey is again Grass/Fighting (he just is, don’t try and change my mind).

Pokémon Sword and Shield

This is all just wild speculation. A couple of educated guessing can still be made. For example, the next trailer will drop in April or more likely May and reveal the cover Pokémon, the cover art work, and give a firmer release date based on the reveal schedule of previous games. The end of the gameplay trailer featuring the player’s avatar in a jersey might signify a tournament mechanic closer to something featured in the anime. Since at least one Eevee evolution has been introduced in every evenly numbered generation, a new Eeveelution isn’t unprecedented, and I for one would sincerely appreciate a Ghost type: Spookeon, Spectreon, Obliveon, Morticeon (these names are just off the top of my head, TPCi, and yes, I am available for hire), whatever it be called, though steel and poison Eeveelutions might make sense if they really want to lean into the Industrial Revolution theme. And finally, it would make a lot of sense if the cover Pokémon were creatures you might expect to see on a shield, perhaps a griffin or a dragon, though likely not a lion since Sun‘s mascot was Solgaleo.

Two things are unequivocally and indisputably certain following the announcement of Pokémon Sword and Shield. First, the reveal of the eighth generation did not disappoint and the titles are already off to a great start. Second, the months leading up to their inevitable release (likely in November) will be frenzied fun as fans run wild with speculation, the community divides itself as fans rally behind their starters of choice, and again as the Sword and Shield mascots make their grand appearance, and yet again when allegiances change as the final evolutions of the starters debut. Enjoy it. Enjoy it all the way until you’re enjoying Sword or Shield at the end of the year, which can’t come soon enough.

 

 

Tim is not the droids you are looking for. He resides quietly in the Emerald City where he can often be found writing, reading, watching movies, or playing video games. He is the Xbox editor for Goomba Stomp and the site's official Pokémon Master.

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Game Reviews

‘Coffee Talk’ Review: The Best Brew in Town

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

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It’s 9:00pm. The rain just started coming down softly a few minutes ago, and the street outside is reflecting the lights above it. Neon signs shine brightly in the distance, although it’s hard to make out the words. You unlock the doors to the coffee shop and wipe down the counters in order to get them clean for the customers. The rain makes a soft sound as it hits the glass and passerby speed up their walking pace to avoid it. The bells chime as a tall, green orc walks in and sits down at your table in silence. You wonder what their story is…

I wanted to set the tone for this review because of how important atmosphere and audio/visual design is in the world of Coffee Talk. While it’s easy to boil the game down as a visual novel-type experience, it’s honestly so much more than that. A unique cast of characters, incredible user interface, and a mysterious protagonist combine to form the most enjoyable experience I’ve had this year on Switch.

Coffee Talk
Some of the subject matter can be pretty serious in nature…

Coffee Talk is beautiful because of how simple it is. The entire game takes place within a single coffee shop. As the barista, you’re tasked with making drinks for the patrons of the shop as well as making conversations with them. The twist is that earth is populated with creatures like orcs, werewolves, and succubi. The relationship between the various races is handled very well throughout the story, and some interesting parallels are made to the real world.

Making drinks is as simple as putting together a combination of three ingredients and hitting the ‘Serve’ button. If a unique drink is made, it will be added to a recipe list that can be referenced on the barista’s cell phone. This is where the awesome user interface comes in, as the phone has a series of apps that can be accessed at any moment in the game. One app houses your recipe list, another acts as a facebook for the characters in the game, one allows you to switch between songs, and the other houses a series of short stories that one of the characters in the game writes as it progresses. It’s one of the coolest parts of the whole experience and helps it stand out from other games in the genre.

Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen.

Coffee Talk cycles between talking with customers and making drinks for them. In the beginning, they will ask for basic beverages that can be brewed on the fly. Later on however, they may ask for a specific type of drink that has a unique title. These drinks often have certain descriptive features that hint at other possibilities in terms of unique dialogue. If the wrong drink is made, you’ll have five chances to trash it and make a new one. If the wrong drink is made, don’t expect the customer to be pleased about it.

The gameplay really is not the focus here though; it’s the characters and their stories that take center stage. An elf with relationship issues, a writer that can’t seem to pin down her next story, and an alien whose sole goal is to mate with an earthling are just a few of the examples of the characters you’ll meet during the story. There are tons of memorable moments throughout Coffee Talk, with every character bringing something unique to the table. The barista develops an interesting relationship with many of these characters as well.

Coffee Talk
Appearances can often be deceiving in this game.

Even though serving the wrong drinks can change some of the dialogue, don’t expect any sort of options or branching paths in terms of the story. It’s not that kind of experience; the story should simply be enjoyed for what it is. I found myself glued to the screen at the end of each of the in-game days, waiting to see what would happen in the morning. The first playthrough also doesn’t answer all of the game’s questions, as the second one is filled with all kinds of surprises that I won’t spoil here.


Coffee Talk is as quaint as your local coffee shop. It’s relatively short, wonderfully sweet, and absolutely committed to the art form of telling a story through a video game screen. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who loves video games, not just visual novel fans. There are characters in the game that I’ll certainly be thinking about for a long time, especially when the setting brings out the best in them. Don’t pass this one up.

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The Magic of Nintendo: How Mario and Zelda Connect us to Our Inner Child

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Magic of Nintendo

Nintendo is special. Many excellent developers depend upon story or progression systems to entice engagement, but not Nintendo. Nintendo games captivate because of their immediate charm. There is no need for a payoff. The games, themselves, are enough: they elicit feelings, hard to find in adulthood. Through intrepid discovery, playful presentation, and unfiltered whimsy, the best of Nintendo connects gamers to their childlike selves.

The heart of any great Nintendo game is discovery and no encounter encapsulates this better than Breath of the Wild’s Eventide Island. First, finding the island requires genuine gumption. Found far from Hyrule’s shore, the island is only clearly visible from other islands, and even then, it’s only a speck in the distance. Reaching the island requires players to brave the open ocean and head towards something … that could be nothing. Then, upon arriving on the beach, a spirit takes all the player’s gear, including clothes and food. Link, literally, is left in his underwear. From there, players must make clever use of Link’s base skills in order to steal enemy weapons and make traps. The scenario creates a marvelous sense of self-sufficiency brought on by one’s own desire to discover. The player comes to the island purely of their own choosing, tackles the sea, and then overcomes obstacles without the aid of their strongest tools. The game turns players into plucky children who are discovering they can take care of themselves.

The intrepidity of Breath of the Wild and other Nintendo greats mirrors the feelings Shigeru Miyamoto, the father of many Nintendo franchises, experienced as a child. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” Miyamoto told the New Yorker. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation.” In sequences like Eventide Island, players don’t just understand what Miyamoto describes, they feel it: Apprehension gives way to exhilaration as the unknown becomes a place of play.

 Nintendo’s intrepid gameplay is often amplified by playful presentation with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island being the quintessential example. The game’s visuals, defined by pastel colors and simple hand-drawings, appear crayoned by a child while the celestial chimes that punctuate the jubilant soundtrack evoke shooting stars. The overall effect cannot be understated. It takes the surreal and turns it real, allowing players to interact, tangibly, with imagination.

Super Mario Odyssey Wooden Kingdom

Even if one removes the presentation and gameplay from Nintendo’s masterpieces, an unabashed creativity remains that bucks norm and convention. The arbiter is fun; reason and logic have no say. For instance, Super Mario Odyssey’s Wooded Kingdom, takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting akin to Nier Automata. Players explore the metal remnants of a civilization that has become a lush home to robotic beings. However, unlike Nier, the dark undertones of the past have no bearing on the game or those who inhabit its universe. The post-apocalyptic setting is just a fun backdrop. It’s as though a bunch of children got together, began playing with toys, and one of the kids brought along his sibling’s adult action figures. There is no attention paid to the context, only unfiltered imagination.

When they’re at their best the creators at Nintendo invite gamers to come and play, like a parent arranging a play date. Pulled along by joyful gameplay that expands in unforeseen ways, players desire to play for the sake of play. It’s a halcyon state of being: No messy thoughts or contradiction, just joy.

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‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some other trash.

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Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

In the 15 year long history of DLC, we have seen some really shameless displays. The notorious horse armor incident of 2006 and a notable day one DLC for the ending game of a trilogy notwithstanding, few companies have had the utter audacity to offer so little content for such a high price point. Enter Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind.

Coming in at a $40 price point (!!!) Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind offers an 80% recycled campaign, a boss rush mode, and some social media nonsense for people who really hate themselves. That’s really it, that’s what you get. Honestly, Square-Enix should be utterly embarrassed by this DLC.

It’s been one year: 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes, or 31556952 seconds, since the release of Kingdom Hearts III. Let that sink in as you begin the meat of Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind. Think of it as the extended version of a movie you really like… you know, the kind where they add 4 minutes to the 120 minute runtime.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind, really is that cynical. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the game literally starts with an exact cut scene from the base game, and a cut scene that happens to be available from the theater mode of the main game that you’ve already bought if you’re playing this DLC. Yes, the introduction to this new content is… content you’ve already seen.

In fact, that’s kind of the sticking point here: most of what you get for your hard-earned cash is footage you’ve already seen, and battles you’ve already fought, and story you’ve already experienced, just with slight alterations for context. Remember back in the 2000s, when we were super obsessed with prequels? This is like that, except even more egregious.

Generally I’m not so unforgiving as to call a company out for a forthright cash grab, but that’s absolutely what Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is. There’s just no other way to put it. You might find someone in the marketing department for Square-Enix who would disagree, but being a company that has faced just these sort of allegations for their last two major releases, Square-Enix either doesn’t read the news, or doesn’t care what people think of their products.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Square-Enix was roundly accused of shipping unfinished products in the case of both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III — their two most high profile releases of the last decade. I personally gave mostly positive reviews of both games for this very website but if you want ammo to suggest that this company is deliberately trading on the nostalgia and passion of its fan base in order to make financial headway, there are few examples you could draw from that are as obvious as this DLC.

Look, maybe you’re a really big Kingdom Hearts fan. Maybe you just really wanted to know what the context was for that cliffhanger ending in Kingdom Hearts III. Maybe you just don’t do much research before you buy something. Or maybe… you just really trust this company for some reason.

Hey, I’m not judging… hell, I bought this DLC for $40 same as anyone else. I oughta be honest that I’m not reviewing Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind as some holier than thou critic, talking down to you from my position of privilege. No, I’m an angry consumer in this particular case. I’m a person who spent enough to replace a flat tire on my car, or buy my family dinner, on a game that is clearly playing off of my love for a franchise, and using it to bilk me out of money in a method that is so clear, and so concise, that those involved in the entire endeavor should be totally embarrassed for their part in the creation, marketing, pricing, and distribution of this expansion.

Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind

Yes, fans had their complaints about Kingdom Hearts III. “Where are the hardcore boss battles? Where are the Final Fantasy characters? Where are the secret areas? Where are the hidden plot developments?” Still, to address these particular complaints by hammering a few minutes or seconds here and there into already existing content is truly like spitting in the faces of the people who have built the house you’re living in.

I haven’t sat in the board rooms at Square-Enix and I haven’t been in email chains about the planning of projects at their company but what I can say is that there is something rotten in Denmark if this is what passes for a satisfying piece of content for the wildly devoted fans of a hugely popular franchise in 2020. Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind is literally, truthfully, and succinctly, the worst piece of DLC I’ve ever purchased.

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