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Fixing Pokemon Sword and Shield’s story with hidden details

Posted on May 12, 2024 by in Features, Switch

Pokemon Sword Shield story

Today, we’re talking about Pokemon Sword and Shield’s story and how it can be improved using details that were included in the anime adaptation, but were for some reason not included in the games.

Ever since (and even before) its initial release in 2019, Pokemon Sword and Shield have been the subject of much controversy and criticism from fans. While most of this criticism revolved around the now (perhaps begrudgingly) somewhat-accepted removal of the National Dex, a good chunk of the criticism Pokemon Sword and Shield receives in the modern day revolves around its story. Mainly, the fact that it doesn’t make much sense.

Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Story

Pokemon Sword and Shield's story

It’s safe to say that not everybody who has played Pokemon Sword and Shield have seen its corresponding anime arc. Though both stories generally follow the same beats, the games leave out a lot important details – so let’s quickly recap what happens there. Sword and Shield’s main villain, Chairman Rose, is the chairman of the Pokemon League and the current president of Macro Cosmos. Though the Macro Cosmos company isn’t well-explained in the games, its aim is to provide renewable power and energy to the Galar region as a whole.

During Sword and Shield’s story, Rose appears several times, including at the beginning of the game to announce a tournament match between Leon and Raihan. He talks to the player several times, but doesn’t appear to be doing much other than official league business. Toward the peak of the game’s story, Rose pulls Leon aside to Rose Tower and tells him he’s come up with a plan to create renewable energy for the Galar region for years to come. Unfortunately, Leon’s championship match with the player is the next day, but Rose doesn’t want to wait for it to end – he wants to put his plan into motion immediately, which Leon refuses until his championship match has concluded. This is where things get confusing – the player and Hop (Leon’s little brother and the player’s rival) invade Macro Cosmos to track down Leon, and they’re stopped by several company employees who initiate a battle as if they’re suddenly villains up to something they know is bad.

Things get even more confusing on the next in-game day, when Rose interrupts the championship match between Leon and the player to unleash the Legendary Pokemon Eternatus upon the world. This causes Pokemon everywhere to randomly Dynamax and start destroying the region – and worse yet, the player isn’t allowed to help with or even see any of this action. Leon offers to take care of the situation all on his own, leaving the player alone to handle other matters. Leon eventually tracks down Eternatus, and is unable to defeat it himself. That’s where the player comes in – you and Hop work together to take down Eternatus, which then transforms into its Eternamax form. That form is eventually taken down when Zacian and Zamazenta, the heroes of legend, appear and defeat it. After this event, Rose is never seen again, which left many players completely confused on what his motives were.

The Pokemon Anime’s Story

The Pokemon anime's story

In Pokemon Sword and Shield’s corresponding anime arc, Rose is given much more screen time and is better fleshed out as a tragic villain of sorts. The Sword and Shield arc is only four episodes long, but it still gives us a good glimpse of what the story in Pokemon Sword and Shield could have included had it been given more time in the oven. In the anime, it’s revealed that Rose’s father was a coal miner, where he worked to extract energy to power the Galar region. Unfortunately, the coal mine wound up collapsing, killing Rose’s father when he was young. Several years later, Rose learned of the existence of Eternatus, a Pokemon that arrived from outer space 20,000 years ago via a meteorite. It was capable of generating infinite amounts of energy via Galar particles, which is the substance that enables Pokemon to Dynamax.

Eventually, Rose was somehow able to capture and subdue Eternatus, and trapped it inside Macro Cosmos’ main building to serve as a power source for an energy generator. Even though he was able to temporarily subdue Eternatus, Rose knew he wouldn’t be able to fully control its power if it were to rebel and go haywire. To fix this, Rose raised Leon as the most powerful Pokemon Trainer in the world – not only someone who could perform well in the Pokemon League, but someone who could rise up and defeat Eternatus if things ever became desperate. This is something that wasn’t communicated super well in the games: Rose was responsible for Leon’s rise to stardom, and he funded his tournament matches to create an environment where Leon could become as proficient a battler as possible.

During the Pokemon Sword and Shield anime arc, Macro Cosmos’ Eternatus-powered generator begins working overtime as it struggles to contain the power held within. It eventually starts releasing excess amounts of Galar particles upon the region, which causes affected Pokemon to start randomly Dynamaxing and going on rampages. This prompts Ash and Leon to battle, defeat, and subdue the Dynamax Pokemon to prevent them from causing further damage. Unfortunately, these events didn’t prevent Rose from changing his mind about using Eternatus as a power source. Driven to prevent what happened to his father from happening to anyone else, Rose doubled down and continued drawing power from Eternatus – enough to power the Galar region for thousands of years to come.

Ash and Leon eventually confront Rose about the rampaging Dynamax Pokemon, and Rose lies and says he doesn’t know what’s causing them. This makes Leon suspicious, and while Ash and Rose talk over dinner, Leon enters the locked Macro Cosmos plant to investigate the cause of the rampant Dynamax phenomenon. Over dinner, Rose explains that even though he lost much as a child, the Galar region and its many opportunities for advancement and self-fulfillment allowed him to bounce back and gather enough wealth to establish Macro Cosmos, which he wants to use to pay the region back in kindness – at any cost.

Eventually, Eternatus shatters its confinements and begins a campaign of destruction to absorb all of the energy in the Galar region (possibly to restore all of the energy that had been extracted from it by the generator). Much like in the Pokemon Sword and Shield games, Leon heads to the top of Hammerlocke Stadium to confront and battle Eternatus. Once there, he tries but fails to defeat Eternatus using his Charizard. In the anime, Leon actually becomes quite injured from the ordeal. Much like the games, though, Zacian and Zamazenta eventually wind up appearing and defeating Eternatus using their signature moves. Eternatus is then caught, but unlike the games, it is sealed away to prevent anyone from using its power for evil ever again.

In both the games and the anime, Rose did know of the Darkest Day, a cataclysmic event caused by Eternatus that occurred hundreds of years in the past. In the anime, Eternatus itself is named the Darkest Day, but Rose renames it to Eternatus to paint a better picture of how its ability to generate energy serves as the future of the Galar region. Despite this, he moved forward with that plan anyway, willing to endanger the region in any way necessary to ensure its prosperity for the next several thousand years. The scene with Hop and the player invading Rose Tower is completely absent from the anime, which makes a lot of the plot’s finer details more apparent to the viewer.

It’s important to note that we didn’t talk too much about Zacian and Zamazenta here because those aspects of the story make sense. It’s when Rose gets involved that things become a bit baffling. As you can see, the Pokemon anime fills in an absolutely huge amount of missing plot pieces from the Pokemon Sword and Shield games themselves. Many of these important tidbits simply don’t exist there in any form, which understandably left players very confused. Sword and Shield absolutely have the workings of a great story – but perhaps the developers needed time to fully flesh it out. If the day ever comes where we receive a remake of Pokemon Sword and Shield, it’d be a great time to pour some extra dev time into the story to help the Galar region reach its full potential.

What did you think of Pokemon Sword and Shield’s storyline? Do you agree that it would’ve been much better with these missing details included? Do you think the Sword and Shield remake in twenty years or so will improve the plot at all? Feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Pokemon Sword and Shield are available now for Switch. Access the official site here.

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