Pokémon Sword and Shield devs reveal more details about Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble

Learn about the starters and how they were designed.

Screengrab via Game Informer

Pokémon Sword and Shield are releasing in just over a month and there’s still so much information fans don’t know about the games, including details on some of the most important creatures: the starter Pokémon. 

But the game’s director Shigeru Ohmori, producer Junichi Masuda, and art director James Turner gave more details about Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble—the three Pokémon you’ll choose between at the start of your journey—in an interview with Game Informer. And some of this new information provided insight into what the starting trio could evolve into later in the game.

For Grookey, Ohmori mentioned the initial reveal of the three creatures, referencing the monkey’s ability to hit the ground with the stick it keeps on its head to promote the growth of plant life. With how strongly the team is pointing out that feature, it isn’t hard to imagine the theme of the Grass-type starter throughout the rest of the interview. 

Ohmori also said he thinks that Grookey will appeal more to those who “like to dance or are into parties,” perhaps referencing the rhythmic style in which the Pokémon hits the ground. 

“I think Grookey is the kind of Pokémon whose demeanor makes people happy,” Ohmori said. “It’s really a mood maker. I think people who are really bright and jovial would be good. People who like to dance or are into parties maybe. They want to go out and have fun with this Pokémon.”

The director said that fans will have to wait to see just what Grookey will evolve into. But once that happens, he suggests that it’ll differentiate Grookey from other monkey-themed Pokémon.

“I think just like there are many different types of monkeys in the world, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of Pokémon this guy becomes,” Ohmori said. “Through the evolutions, I think you’ll see the differences in these monkey-themed Pokémon.”

 Ohmori, Masuda, and Turner were vague when giving the history of the Fire-type Scorbunny, however. This is likely because explaining the odd patches on its body might reveal details about its evolutionary line. 

Ohmori confirmed that the patch just over its nose was meant to mimic the Japanese design trope meant to draw attention to how young and energetic someone is. This is a theme that Pokémon has done in the past with its trainer designs, but never with an actual Pokémon before. 

The remainder of the interview didn’t give any further details on what Scorbunny could become, but it did provide insight on why the designs for the Galarian starters look so simple compared to even the last generation. 

“The face, the expression is quite simple and you can recognize it very quickly,” Masuda said. “But with the silhouette, there are certain complications that make it stand out.”

The simplicity of the design was made so that the shapes and faces were easier to remember, while the linework done on the Pokémon makes sure that the outline stands out. That probably means Scorbunny’s evolutions are going to be much more complex to make up for the purposefully-bland starting point. 

Sobble’s feature actually provided a combination of insight based on the previous questions, giving fans a tease about the future forms and how they will play into the story. After Turner explained why he enjoyed the Water-type’s design and referenced the evolution line, Ohmori stepped in and provided some context. 

“It is a little hard to explain,” Ohmori said. “I think as players play the game and go on the adventure and see how the Pokémon grow and evolve, they’ll think ‘Ah, that makes sense with the Galar region why these are the starters.”

This could mean each starter will have some tie to the culture of England, but it’s most likely just pointing to various themes we don’t know about in the story and how the evolutions could play a part in that narrative. 

The team also revealed that Sword and Shield used a different method to create Pokémon compared to previous games. Instead of one person or team sitting down to design the creatures, Game Freak had a visual designer team up with a gameplay or feature planner to make the ideas. 

And, depending on how Ohmori’s comments about the starters play out, this could mean that the design team was more focused on crafting Pokémon that fit the narrative rather than just the world. This happened before in Pokémon X and Y with Norse mythology being a big theme.

Pokémon Sword and Shield release worldwide on Nov. 15 for Nintendo Switch.