New Pokémon Sword and Shield announcements bring gigantic changes to battle – literally

Nintendo delighted fans on Tuesday with surprise new announcements for Pokémon Sword and Shield (SWSH), which is coming worldwide to Nintendo Switch in November.

There was lots of information packed into the short two-minute trailer, but most anticipated were the four new Pokémon – unsurprising, when they’re the main draw of the franchise.

First up is Alcremie, the cream Pokémon. This fairy-type is described as the ideal partner for pastry chefs, thanks to its ability to produce whipped cream that becomes richer the happier it is. While not out-right stated, there’s an implication here that SWSH could include battle restaurants like its more recent predecessors, or perhaps even introduce a dedicated pastry chef trainer class.

Second is a little friend we saw a glimpse of at E3 last month – Yamper, the puppy Pokémon. Blatantly inspired by the welsh corgi, the electric types official announcement was eagerly anticipated after photos of it in the SWSH demo escaped onto social media.

Most Brits are probably unsurprised by the addition of a corgi Pokémon, knowing Her Majesty’s affection for them, though this raises the question that’s been on everyone’s mind for months – will the Queen herself get a homage in these UK-inspired games?

Our third addition is Rolycoly, the coal Pokémon. This unassumingly designed little guy uses a lump of coal attached to its body as a wheel to move around the coal mines and caves it lives in. It may appear like a standard rock-type at first until you look a little harder at the revealed information.

Rolycoly has one of the few new abilities announced so far this generation – Steam Engine, which boosts its speed when it’s hit with a fire or water attack. This combined with the coal wheel lines it up to potentially evolve into a steam train-inspired Pokémon, which would be a fun choice when the region is already shown to have railways.

The final new creature is Duraladon, the alloy Pokémon. It’s not entirely clear what this steel/dragon-type is based on, but worth noting is the red nozzle by its head, the metal spike on its back, and that it turns itself 90 degrees to fire attacks – all the jokes about the third version to SWSH called ‘Gun’ coming in the future may have been truer than we thought.

Also interesting is the trivia stating that Duraladon can be seen fighting the similarly built Tyranitar in the mountains of the Galar region. This is reminiscent of a Godzilla-esque kaiju battle. Very fitting, considering the new Dynamax mechanic – which has received an additional form.

Gigantamaxing is its name, and it’s available only to a select few types of Pokémon (though exactly which, and whether any are old favourites, we don’t know yet). This mechanic works basically the exact same as Dynamaxing – your Pokémon will grow huge for a set number of turns and deal out devastatingly powerful attacks. The difference is that Gigantamaxing will alter your Pokémon’s appearance.

Here is where we see the true draw of the newly announced Alcremie – the little blob of cream, meringue and strawberries transforms dramatically into a delicious-looking four-tier cake, which rains cream on both allies and enemies. While enemies will take immense damage, your own Pokémon will instead be healed – this promises to be an incredibly sweet treat for Dynamax Raids.

This week we also met a number of new human characters and were introduced to the concept of version-exclusive gyms. While some Pokémon have always been version-exclusive, and we’ve even had a gym that made you fight a different trainer depending on if you played Black and White version, we’ve never had two entirely different type­-specialists depending on which game you play.

Until now that is – players of Sword will fight the fighting-type specialist Bea, a stoic karate expert who rarely shows her emotions, while Shield-owners do battle with ghost-specialist Allister, a shy young boy who hides his face with a mask.

Along with these two came Chairman Rose, the head of the Galar Pokémon League and president of a large business conglomerate. It’s noted that he implemented Dynamax Pokémon into the League to make it world-famous. With him is his secretary and vice-president, Oleandra, who is largely in charge of day-to-day running of Rose’s company.

It seems the two will be key to the plot – the League is run like a tournament this time around (likely based on the Premier League, if the football-aesthetic is anything to go by) and Rose is mentioned as the one who endorsed current Champion Leon for the Gym Challenge, so it’s likely we’ll see them both fairly often throughout the game.

But the news doesn’t stop there. By watching both the English and Japanese trailers we can see some subtly confirmed returning Pokémon – a nerve-wracking subject with the recent news that the National Pokédex mechanic will not be returning for SWSH. Maractus and Pumpakaboo fans can officially rest easy, with both Pokémon spotted wandering in the background of some shots of the Japanese trailer. Fans of Mimikyu and the Tyrogue line are also likely safe – Allister was shown with the former, while Bea is seen battling with a Hitmontop.

Dragon-type fans have a tough choice ahead of them, however. While it seems that most ‘common’ dragon-types will be available in SWSH (rightfully so for a UK-based region), those available to you are dependent on which version you pick. Shield fans can pick up Larvitar and Goomy, which will eventually lead to the much-beloved Tyranitar and Goodra, where Sword fans can chase down Deino or Jangmo-o, which evolve the disastrously powerful Hydreigon and Kommo-o.

Outside of the games themselves, yesterday we also got the reveal of the Nintendo Switch Lite – great news for anyone contemplating buying a Switch while working on a tight budget. The Lite is releasing September 20th, well in advance of Pokémon, and will come in grey, yellow and turquoise. If you’re willing to wait a little longer, a special edition themed after SWSH’s legendary Pokémon, Zacian and Zamazenta, will release on November 8th (though won’t come with a copy of the games themselves, unfortunately).

So what announcements do we have to look forward to in the future? Other than the obvious (more Pokémon and more gym leaders), we’re still waiting on the formal announcement of Impidimp, another Pokémon that was spotted in the E3 demo alongside Yamper. Eagle-eyed fans noticed the dark/fairy-type in one of the gym’s sponsorship banners, so it’s definitely still coming.

Also spotted on a banner was the stylised silhouette of a dog with a lightning bolt-shaped tail. While Elektrike and Manectric are both electric-type dogs, neither of them quite fits the build of the silhouette, leading some to wonder whether this mysterious pup is Yamper’s evolution – and, considering other UK-associated dog breeds, whether it will be based on a greyhound.

Either way, it won’t be long until we find out – SWSH is just four months away, and Nintendo only become more frequent with Pokémon announcements the closer they get to release. And with fans still in uproar about the missing National Pokédex and fearful of how long it’ll be until they can next train up their favourite critters, let’s hope that some of the upcoming designs are instant hits.

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