Game Freak faces backlash over Pokémon Sword and Shield animations

"Game Freak Lied."
Pokemon Sword and Shield/Nintendo
Image via Pokemon

The developer of Pokémon Sword and Shield faced harsh criticism from fans on Twitter today over allegedly subpar animations and misleading claims.

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Sword and Shield have been criticized from the moment they were announced. Vocal fans were quick to show their displeasure after Game Freak announced the National Dex wouldn’t return in the new games. Over time, more leaks about the game’s animation and overall quality bothered already-disgruntled Pokémon fans. But the vitriol spiked days before the game’s release when “Game Freak Lied” topped Twitter’s trends in the U.S.

When Game Freak announced that not all Pokémon would return in Sword and Shield, the company promised improved animations as a result. The logic was that because there are so many Pokémon with their own unique animations, it’s nearly impossible to have all of them in one game. The company would rather devote time to polishing the animations of some select Pokémon. Fans weren’t pleased, but most understood the reasoning. 

With new videos and rumors about the game surfacing, fans feel betrayed by Game Freak’s cuts from the National Dex. Animations remain remarkably similar to those from previous 3DS games, such as Sun and Moon, sparking fans to believe that building the animations from scratch was a lie. 

Users have complained that Game Freak didn’t remake all the models from scratch and instead built upon previous models or reused the exact models from Sun and Moon. It’s common for animators to reuse models and assets, but the community’s issues come from perceived dishonesty

Models weren’t the only complaint, though. Game Freak promised top quality animations, but fans feel there’s no difference between previous generations and the upcoming games. Some fans are even comparing possible leaked cutscenes to animation seen in the early 1990s.

Initial reviews are promising, however, with many people rating the gameplay highly. But Kotaku mentioned “lackluster graphics” as a negative, indicating that some of the fan criticism of poor graphical quality could be accurate.

Ultimately, most of the information and the trending backlash are the results of unverified rumors. But the backlash may impact sales since many fans have already claimed to have canceled pre-orders, which might prompt Game Freak to reevaluate its methods.

Pokémon Sword and Shield come to Nintendo Switch on Nov. 15. 

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