There are two sides to every story. There are pros and cons to every decision made. The removal of the National Pokédex in Pokémon Sword & Shield is no different. GameFreak’s Junichi Masuda confirmed that the National Dex won’t return, and he and the team did so to focus on creating new Pokémon models from scratch.
Because of Pokémon’s long history and core appeal based around attachment and friendship, this has caused a huge rift in the Pokémon community. Toxicity on both sides of the argument has flooded the community, from Twitter to Reddit. For now, let's drown out the noise and evaluate this further: here are the reasons why the National Dex cut was a good thing, and some reasons why we can't let it go.
10 PRO: Galarian Variants Keeps Old Pokémon Fresh
A good way to bring back fan favorites without removing them from the National Pokédex is Regional Variants. While Gen 1 seems to be getting most of these regional forms (Meowth has two for God’s sake), it’s a good way to keep them around.
I would argue that GameFreak should do this with more Pokémon. Fans seem to enjoy this idea. It also aligns with real-world species variation and evolution. Players will have to wait and see what changes they make the next generation.
9 CON: Questionable Choices
Some of the Pokémon selected to be left out of the Pokédex were odd, to say the least. Headscratchers, for sure. We can see why some people would be upset. One argument could that that these Pokémon are consistently picked for their appeal, history and mechanical power, so they could use a rest.
However, there were cuts like Starter Pokémon. These are fans’ first points of contact with each entry, and you cut them out GameFreak? Really? Even beloved classics like Alakazam and Metagross are not present. And we’re not even going to talk about the absence of the Squirtle and Bulbasaur lines!
8 PRO: It’s Consistent With Lore
Let’s take a step back and look at it from a lore-based perspective, with hints of real-world biology. Some Pokémon species are going to be in other regions, while some may not. It’s the same reason why a toucan cannot be in the same country or ecosystem as a peacock. Therefore, the vast majority of Pokémon cannot be accessible.
This explains why Psuedo-legendaries, Legendaries and Starter Pokémon cannot be accessed in Galar; they are very regional Pokémon. This also explains why we have regional variants of other Pokémon. If two different species change over time in different regions, they’re going to be different.
7 CON: Some People’s Favorites Won’t Be Brought Over
As mentioned before, Pokémon is about building bonds with a pixelated fictional creature. It’s a self-insert fantasy that emphasizes battles, glory, wonder, and exploration. For many people, these games were their childhood, their entryway to deeper connections.
And it all started with these quirky, cool or cute creatures that they were able to transfer across Generations. Someone’s Sceptile from Pokémon Sapphire has made it all the way into Sun/Moon thanks to transfer (wired and wireless) and the Pokémon Bank. Now, they can’t take the next step with them into the new console generation.
6 PRO: Balance
Let’s look at the gameplay aspect of this argument; it doesn’t get much attention. GameFreak is basically encouraging players to experiment with other Pokémon that was previously overlooked for more viable or interesting Pokémon. There are some Pokémon that are relatively strong or mechanically intriguing. Sometimes they are ignored due to design, their move pool was weak at first or they just didn’t strike a chord with the player.
Hopefully, GameFreak’s selective choice for inclusion can further highlight underutilized Pokémon in the future. Now, this doesn’t make certain Pokémon any better mechanically – it just makes them more likely to be used by the player (granted other Pokémon don't do their job better).
5 CON: Most Event-Exclusive Pokémon Stay Behind
For a lot of people, this is going to be a real sore spot for them. Event-exclusive Pokémon are Pokémon that are only obtainable during limited time events; they are not accessible by normal means in mainline games. Most of these event-exclusive Pokémon are Legendary or Mythical Pokémon, but sometimes they can be special variants of standard Pokémon, like a Pikachu that knows Surf.
Here’s the problem: more than half the Dex won’t be available in Sword/Shield. That already rules out most event Pokémon. It really sucks if someone got an event-exclusive Pokémon with an Egg Move or appearance that they can’t transfer. Oof.
4 PRO: It's Less Strenuous on Completionists
As more and more Pokémon were added to the Pokédex, the daunting task of truly catching them all became more and more arduous for true Pokémon masters. If players wanted to complete the National Dex, they would have to import a lot of Pokémon over the years to fill Dex entries.
Now that there is no National Pokédex, completionists are free to complete the Pokédex without having to use Global Link to bring in every Pokémon from previous generations. They can just catch ‘em all in Sword/Shield’s context. I don’t think they would have enough PC space for that anyways…
3 CON: Removes Type Variety
Pokémon has a long, long history of experimenting with different type matchings and additions. Dark-types and Steel-types were added in Gen 2, and Fairy-type was added in Gen 6. Gen 4 laid the foundation for unique type-pairings, such as Croagunk, Lucario and Spiritomb.
Sword/Shield build on this with new additions like Toxtricity, Frosmoth and Grimmsnarl, but without half the previous Pokémon present, it really messes with type diversity. I suppose the Galarian variants help remedy that with the idea of species variations, but it sucks that Pokémon like Whimiscott, Pyroar, and Dragalge will be left out of the equation for a game or two.
2 PRO: Less Popular Pokémon Now Have A Chance
As mentioned before under balance, this gives longtime Pokémon players and new players a chance to experience less popular Pokémon. There are multiple reasons for a certain Pokémon to be overlooked. It comes down to player preference: design, appeal, stats, lore, etc.
With less go-to Pokémon available, the player can be exposed to more Pokémon to experiment and try out. They may even grow to like them, and the Pokémon may get an increased fanbase. However, with new variants, it may make unaltered Pokémon seem less attractive. Again, it comes down to the player.
1 CON: Past Pokémon Can’t Be Experienced In The New Console Generation
Pokémon Sword & Shield represents a nice and polished graphical upgrade to the core game, despite a few technical issues. What makes some fans disappointed with this new game is that their favorite Pokémon won’t get a polished view.
Unless they’re Kanto Pokémon or some Alolan Pokémon, they’re going to be stuck in the previous console generation, or on the popular mobile game Pokémon Go. And compared to Sword/Shield, the 3DS graphics don’t look all that great. This time around, the issues stand out more. Yikes.