While Pokémon Sword and Shield is fun and brought some engaging new features, it's a technically shallow game. Throughout the game's launch in November TheGamer covered several shortcomings including the 30 fps framerate lock, subpar graphics, and let's not forget the National dex got hacked to bits. Despite adding some frivolously entertaining mechanics such as Dynamaxing and camping, the games are undeniably lacking depth.
For starters, the 30 fps is the same frame rate in which the previous titles have run, however, that was on the DS. The overall graphics aren't outshining its predecessors either. The hype surrounding Sword and Shield largely pertained to the games marking the console debut for the main series, thus fans were expecting some momentous advancements to the game's simple graphics. It came as quite the disappointment to discover they fell short of many other Nintendo Switch titles.
There were also massive cuts made to the game's long roster of pokémon and moves. Some pokémon that have been with players from the beginning are not able to make the journey with their trainers into the Galar region. An absolutely gut-wrenching revelation for a large group of fans, but not as enraging as finding out the developers lied about the reasoning behind the cuts. Game Freak claimed the cuts were necessary because they would not be reusing models from past installments, but then they did.
Players who bought the game regardless of the controversies were disheartened yet again as they neared end game. While battling through the last couple Gyms it becomes painfully clear the plotline was merely surface deep and many characters were left underdeveloped.
Even within the new features, there is nothing truly revolutionary about Pokémon Sword and Shield. Dynamaxing is cool, but it's really just oversized pokémon with a few buffs; nothing pushing the boundaries here. Really it's all just visual stimulation, something to shake up the monotony of turn-based battling. Quite frankly it's a little annoying that a pokémon's usual move set gets traded out for only one or two Max moves; battle mechanics really didn't need to be dumbed down even more.
Camping is an engaging new feature too that's a lot of fun and adds a different type of depth to the game. That being said, it is time-consuming and probably took efforts away from areas where the game is lacking, such as the subpar plotline and underdeveloped characters. It's cool being able to interact with your pokémon, personally boosting friendship levels and healing together from battle, but the fact remains the focus probably should've been pointed elsewhere.
All in all, despite these many grievances, it is okay that the game isn't technically advanced. At its core, these games are built to serve as an RPG on training wheels so kids can learn the ropes. The fact that many fans continue to avidly support the franchise throughout adulthood is a testament to how adored the franchise truly is. Bringing the main series titles to console warranted some bigger advancements- not bigger pokémon- and the fans were expecting a lot more. However, Pokémon has never been known for its groundbreaking mechanics, in fact, it is widely cherished for its simplicity. To this end, it shouldn't be expected to change as drastically as other titles might when making the switch to console.
It's disappointing that more wasn't done to enhance graphics, given the game's new home on the console. Though kids don't tend to care so much about graphics as they do crazy cool effects. Children are Game Freak's target audience, hence why hyperbolized battle effects and gigantic cake pokémon take precedence over superior graphics and detailed plotline. This is no reason to toss a long-beloved franchise onto the scrap heap by any means. The games still hold a simplistic yet immersive charm and should be celebrated for it.