The name of the next installment of the Pokémon series may have been revealed to us as far back as October 2018. Although the name and location of Sword & Shield was only just officially announced by Nintendo, many fans are pointing back to a playful tweet made by Game Freak's Junichi Masuda on October 5th as the first hint.
The tweet features a picture of Masuda, producer of the two upcoming Pokémon games, taken during a meeting at Nintendo of Europe. In the picture, Masuda is standing in front of a cardboard cutout of Link from the Legend of Zelda series holding the Hylian Shield and the Master Sword. Masuda is holding what appears to be a chair cushion and a piece of sound equipment in the same stance that Link is holding the (you guessed it) sword and shield.
At the time, Nintendo and Pokémon fans took this image at face value, but now they're not so sure. Could the picture have been a tongue-in-cheek early reveal of Sword & Shield's name, or was Masuda just messing around?
Most people on Twitter seem to think the picture was an early name reveal. The original tweet has gained dozens of new comments since the Pokémon Sword and Shield official announcement, all of them mentioning the link (pun not intended) between the image and the new games' titles.
Masuda has yet to confirm whether or not the image was an early hint at Sword & Shield's name.
In case you missed it, the Pokémon Sword & Shield official announcement was made yesterday in the Pokémon Direct video posted to Nintendo's YouTube channel. The video reveals that Sword & Shield will take place in a new region called Galar, based on the country of England, and features some non-finalized gameplay footage in both charming countryside and bustling, modern city. The video also reveals the three starter pokémon players can choose from; curious, grass type Grookey, energetic, fire type Scorbunny, and shy, water type Sobble.
Pokémon Sword & Shield will be released for Nintendo Switch late 2019. Whether or not Masuda will reveal the truth on the fan conspiracy theories surrounding his picture is yet to be seen.