Nintendo today revealed more details about its fervently-anticipated upcoming RPG for the Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Sword & Shield, including a release date and new details about the specific Pokémon and features available in the game.
Sword & Shield will debut on Nov. 15 and marks the first original Pokémon release on the Switch, as last year’s Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! were enhanced remakes of earlier titles for the Game Boy.
Set in the previously-unexplored Galar region of the Pokémon world, Sword & Shield lets the player begin a new journey to become the champion Pokémon trainer. Naturally, that means exploring every nook and cranny of this new part of the world, in order to find every single Pokémon and train it as part of the player’s team. You’ll be consistently opposed in your journey by your rival Hop, the younger brother of Galar’s undefeated Pokémon champion Leon.
As part of its Pokémon Direct presentation today, Nintendo said that the game will include the brand-new Dynamax mode, which will allow players to temporarily grow their Pokémon to enormous size.
The new mode is a special option in battle, unlocked via a particular item, that allows you to grow a single Pokémon on your team into a giant, once per fight for three turns. During that period of time, the Pokémon’s skills are enhanced, giving it a big temporary power boost and amplifying its moves. Pokémon battles aren’t exactly light on spectacle under ordinary circumstances, but a battle between two Dynamaxed Pokémon is basically a giant monster movie. Dynamax is a unique phenomenon in the Galar region, studied by Professor Magnolia and her granddaughter/assistant Sonia.
Players can also encounter Dynamaxed Pokémon in the Wild Areas of the Galar region. These giants will require a full team of trainers to take down, only one of whom can use a temporary Dynamax boost in an attempt to even the odds. Up to four trainers can join up for a Dynamax fight via local wireless or online play with the Switch, and each of those fights will require significant coordination and cooperation from the trainers to win. “We hope trainers will join forces and test their skills against a variety of Pokémon,” said Kazumasa Iwao, planning director on Sword & Shield.
Today’s announcement also revealed two brand new legendary Pokémon, the titular “sword” and “shield” of the new games: Zacian and Zamazenta, two mysterious wolf-type Pokémon. Unknown even to the Pokémon-crazy natives of Galar, tracking down Zacian and Zamazenta is intended as a major part of Sword & Shield‘s story.
Other brand new Pokémon in Sword & Shield include Wooloo, a fluffy sheep Pokémon prized for its wool; Corviknight, a dark bird that can be used as a taxi service to revisit any previously-visited town in the game; Drednaw, a “bite Pokémon” that eats rock and iron with its powerful jaw; and Gossifleur, a flower Pokémon with powerful healing pollen, which can evolve into the cotton Pokémon Eldegoss.
Sword and Shield are directed by long-time franchise veteran Shigeru Ohmori, who has worked on various Pokémon games as a producer, designer, and/or director since 2002’s Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire.
The Pokémon series has been a tentpole franchise for Nintendo since 1996’s Pokémon Red and Blue for the original Game Boy. Initially developed by Game Freak CEO Satoshi Tajiri, who based the original game off of his childhood hobby of collecting insects, the various games in the Pokémon series have sold well over 300 million units worldwide, and led to a franchise that includes toys, a collectible card game, and multiple cartoons.
Core entries in the Pokémon franchise are developed by the Japanese company Game Freak, and are published and marketed worldwide by The Pokémon Co., a joint venture between Nintendo, Game Freak, and the Creatures studio. Pokemon Co.’s U.S. operations are in Bellevue, Wash. While almost all Pokémon games are exclusively found on Nintendo hardware, Game Freak is an independent company, and has occasionally developed games for other platforms such as 2015’s Tenbo the Badass Elephant.
Other Nintendo announcements this week included the June update for Switch Online, which adds three new Nintendo games to the system’s 8-bit lineup. The big draw here is Technos Japan’s Double Dragon II: The Revenge, a 1988 side-scrolling beat-’em-up that was one of the best cooperative experiences on the original Nintendo. You can also now play Nintendo’s Volleyball, a 1986 game that’s one of the early no-gimmicks sports sims from the first wave of Nintendo’s first-party software, and Jaleco’s bizarre City Connection, a relatively obscure 1988 arcade game about being chased by the cops as you try to paint every section of the world’s highways.