2010's Pokemon: Black & White games limited players to using only the Pokémon introduced in the 5th generation as opposed to including classic Pokémon from earlier generations, and it's the only Pokémon game that has this feature. Of course you can unlock Pokémon from earlier generations after completing the main story, but in order to collect all eight gym badges and take down the Elite Four, you had to use a team completely comprised of Pokémon that were totally new at the time. While many fans who hold the original Pokémon close to their hearts might have gotten upset at this, the game ended up being excellent, and the generation-specific roster demanded creativity from Game Freak, while encouraging fans to endear themselves to a completely new cast of characters.
Like any other fan of the Pokémon handheld games, I'm probably going to buy Pokémon Sword & Shield no matter what. After beating countless Pokémon games, that formula of building a team from the ground up never gets old, and I find myself getting excited for every new release.
That being said, the latest batch of new Pokémon haven't impressed me a ton. Aside from a small handful, a majority of the new generation that has been announced so far hasn't really gotten me excited. It feels like Game Freak may be leaning a bit on previous generations and gimmicks like gigantamax battles instead of pulling out all of the creative stops in giving us new and imaginative Pokémon. The complete roster hasn't been released yet and might end up being great, but I genuinely think there is something to be said of the creativity that comes from the task of creating a generation of entirely new Pokémon to serve as the backbone of the game like in Black & White.
Take a look back at the roster of Pokémon in this game. Although the starters may not be the series' best, there are some iconic Pokémon in this generation. From the bulky fighting-type clown-Pokémon Conkeldurr, to the monkey with flaming eyebrows in Darmanitan, the game had no shortage of Pokémon with personality. The generation also gave us of some of Pokémon's most badass monsters, like the three-headed dragon Hydreigon, the epic fire-bug Volcarona, and the shape-shifting Zoroark. The fifth generation had no shortage of exciting Pokémon, and only allowing players to choose from that generation gave them a better opportunity to appreciate those Pokémon.
The fact of the matter is, Pokémon has been around for well over twenty years now, and creating an exciting new generation of monsters every few years isn't the easiest of tasks. In an attempt to keep the game refreshing, Game Freak has implemented a handful of new features, although the physical design of new Pokémon doesn't feel as important as it used to. Because of this, the Black & White games should be recognized for their creative direction and their refusal to rely on the franchise's previous success to define the game. Although Sword & Shield will probably be great additions to the world of Pokémon when they release on November 15, the drive to excite fans with new, exciting Pokémon just doesn't seem as prevalent as it has in past games.