The latest generation of Pokemon, Sword and Shield, have been out for a few years now, and I’ve finally gotten around to completing the former earlier this week. One thing that I can say for sure is that Sword and Shield are the most wholesome games in the entire Pokemon series and, quite honestly, it’s not even a competition. From your rival, to the classic enemy team of this generation, Team Yell, the entire tone of Pokemon has shifted through the years and Sword and Shield gives us the best glimpse at the future of Pokemon is going to look like so far. So why are these games the most wholesome games in the Pokemon series, and what does the future of Pokemon look like?
Pokemon rivals have been a classic in the series ever since the very conception of the games. While you rival is always another kid and is always the same age as you, both Pokemon Sword and Shield do something a little different with your rival, Hop, in these games. Rather than being a total jerk, who you’re happy to put in their place as you encounter them along the way, Hop is actually your best friend and becomes your rival, so that the two of you can push each other to be the greatest Pokemon trainers that you each can be. Hop is also the little brother of the Galar Region’s Champion, Leon, which also makes Leon a friend of yours by association, and throughout the whole game, Leon tends to worry about Hop as he continues to be beaten in battle. Leon is afraid that Hop will be discouraged from battling, but is glad that you (the player) are there to keep him going, and it’s because of you that Hop maintains his can-do attitude and is able to make it to the semi-finals of the Galar Championship. While I’ll never turn down an opportunity to wipe the floor with Blue, I definitely appreciate when Pokemon promotes teamwork and sportsmanship rather than a good vs. evil rivalry. We’ve seen other rivals like May, Wally, and Barry act more as a friendly competition in the past, but something about Hop just feels even more wholesome.
From Team Rocket, to Team Aqua, to Team Magma, we’ve seen plenty of villainous teams throughout the Pokemon series. For the most part, these teams have some sort of evil intention behind them – Team Yell, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Team Yell is the “villainous” team in Pokemon Sword and Shield, and they are definitely something else. While they go about things in an incredibly odd – and loud – fashion, they do actually have good intentions behind them. Throughout most of the game, Team Yell is basically just a paparazzi for Marnie, another one of your rival Trainers. Team Yell basically acts as Marnie’s “hype squad” as they constantly cheer her on and you’re forced to battle a few of their grunts each time you encounter Marnie. The one thing that stuck out to me about Team Yell was right before you get your Rotom Bike upgrade that allows you to ride your bike on water. As you approach the shore, you find two Team Yell grunts and another man crowding around a Drednaw. The grunts claim that they’re trying to protect the Drednaw and will not allow the man to pass through the water, as it will disturb the Drednaw. Another encounter brings you upon another team of grunts and a Silicobra that is attempting to sleep. The grunts turn around to engage the player and start yelling, saying that everyone else is being too loud and will end up waking the Silicobra. After you battle the grunts, the Silicobra wakes up and gives the player the funniest look I’ve ever seen a Pokemon ever give. The point of all of this is that Team Yell doesn’t actually have any evil intentions – they have good intentions, but they’re just a little bit…lost. They’ve got the right idea, but they could use a little guidance.
So, what does this mean for the future of Pokemon? Well, it seems that Pokemon is moving towards a much more positive tone which I think is a really great idea. Pokemon has always been very influential for kids, and I think that having a more positive tone is great. Overall, I think that the future of Pokemon is looking pretty bright, and I’m hoping that Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl take the same direction as Sword and Shield.