Pokémon Sword/Shield

Game review by
Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media
Pokémon Sword/Shield Game Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Easily accessible adventure for series newcomers and vets.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 16 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Gameplay emphasizes trying your best, regardless of challenges in your way. It also praises competition between similarly skilled trainers, caring for and protecting animals, and making friends with people that you disagree with. Promotes players' coming together to accomplish similar goals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Players create their own character and attempt to become the best Pokémon trainer in their part of the world, with a bit of friendly rivalry from their next-door neighbor (and best friend) Hop. Hop becomes a rival but only wants to become as good as or better than you, and always cheers you on. Most other trainers you meet are friendly, and also work together in positive ways through the story.

Ease of Play

Game mechanics are incredibly familiar to anyone who's ever played a Pokémon game before, but it's extremely easy for newcomers that haven't played, with a glossary of terms, commands, and other info readily accessible at the touch of a button. The biggest challenge is fighting against other creatures, and making sure your party is strong enough to handle whatever strikes are thrown at you.

Violence & Scariness

Combat, or testing your creatures against each other, is the focus of the game. Pokémon use a variety of attacks, including punches, breathing fire, and shooting beams of light at opposing creatures. But the nature of fights is based around a rock-paper-scissors style of play, and enemies, when defeated, disappear into a shimmer of light. No blood or gore.

Language
Consumerism

Both titles are the latest chapters in the long-running and extremely popular Pokémon franchise, which has produced animated movies, cartoons, toys, books, etc. The game supports the Poké Ball Plus peripheral, which is sold separately. Downloadable content, such as the Isle of Armor and future expansions, are available as part of a season pass.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pokémon Sword and Shield are adventure role-playing games exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. These are the latest chapters in the long-running and wildly popular Pokémon franchise, which has launched games, toys, cartoons, and other products, including a Poké Ball Plus peripheral that can be used to play the game and imitate catching creatures. This game brings a pair of young Pokémon trainers across a new region as they attempt to become the champion of the land, defeating rivals and amateur collectors to prove they're the best. Combat is the focus of the game, and Pokémon launch a variety of attacks at each other in combat ranging from punches and breathing fire to blasts of energy and jets of water. But enemies, when defeated, either fade away or disappear into a shimmering pool of light -- no blood or gore's shown. Some female characters wear tight or revealing clothing, but otherwise, no inappropriate content is included in the game. Parents should know that there's a larger focus on teamwork and cooperation in this game than in previous titles in the series, and players can partner together with other gamers to defeat Pokémon or to trade creatures. There's also downloadable content (DLC) that's available as part of an expansion pass, with the Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra announced to expand the adventure. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Pokemon Sword/Shield.

Wondering if Pokémon Sword/Shield is OK for your kids?

Parents: Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byHeather M. February 29, 2020
Adult Written byAmox December 27, 2019

Good Game, good messages

It's a great game with some kid friendly messages mixed in.
Teen, 15 years old Written byMikazuchi January 13, 2020

Overall, a solid game! Give it a try if you're starting out on RPG's or a Pokémon Fan in general.

As a veteran player, this game was on the easy side of the difficulty scale but is suitable for younger audiences. The game characters themselves tell the playe... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCanDAmeChibi March 7, 2020

Most disappointing Pokémon game I've ever played

Apart from the cuteness of this game, there is really nothing. There was no story really, it was not memorable. The characters are the only things I'll pro... Continue reading

What's it about?

POKÉMON SWORD and SHIELD are the newest games in the long-running Pokémon franchise, set in the new region of Galar. You take on the role of a young kid who wants to embark on a journey to become a Pokémon trainer, along with your best friend and next-door neighbor, Hop. Your eventual goal, of course, is to become the best trainer in the land and to have the chance to challenge the undefeated champion, Leon (who just happens to be Hop's brother). But before you can reach him, you've got to fight your way through the leaders of gyms to prove that you belong. That means selecting an initial Pokémon to start with, and then traveling into the wilderness to gather a sizable collection of Pokémon along the way. You can also potentially trade creatures with friends and townspeople to expand your roster. Getting the right mix of beasts for your team will be crucial, especially because you can face off against difficult challenges in the form of Dynamax Pokémon. These giants dwarf the battlefield with their size, strength, and new abilities. Fortunately, you'll be able to call up to three human or AI trainers in to help you during these fights known as Max Raid Battles. Can you make your Pokémon strong enough to defeat Leon? Will you be able to uncover the secrets of Dynamax Pokémon? Players looking to further expand their adventure can also prepare to dive into the expansion content, like the Isle of Armor, where players will face off against a new rival, gain new Pokemon, and train your creatures to become even stronger.

Is it any good?

With lots of new features that keep your adventure interesting, this is one of the easier, yet more engaging, chapters in the long-running franchise. The Pokémon Sword and Shield games start out with a familiar plot for Pokémon fans: becoming the best trainer in a new land, fighting gym leaders to prove that your squad is stronger in combat. Players will travel the world, fighting many creatures and trainers, and will gain experience to boost their creature's stats through battles or by assigning beasts to jobs to complete in towns. Fortunately, Sword and Shield ease the labor of fighting for hours to improve everyone in your party by sharing experience across all the monsters after a fight. That reduces the chore of leveling your creatures, which is perfect for newcomers just learning the basics. What's more, players can easily swap their party members in the wild without having to head back to town, which is a massive time-saver, especially when you're hunting for a specific creature or trying to get creatures to evolve to more powerful forms.

On the journey, players will discover an ability known as Dynamaxing, which transforms Pokémon into gigantic versions of themselves. This gives you the option to transform one of your roster for a limited time to wreak havoc on opponents. Dynamaxing provides lots of gameplay twists -- you can whittle down an opposing roster, or save it to cause huge damage against one target. The main problem is that, in most cases (unless your Pokemon's weak against an enemy it faces), Dynamaxing can make fights way too easy to complete. But Dynamaxing also highlights an improved multiplayer focus of Sword and Shield. Players can partner up with three other trainers (human or computer controlled) to fight giant beasts in Max Raid Battles, group combats that are clearly inspired by Pokémon Go's raids. This can be a fun way for friends to help each other clear difficult sections, or use the trading feature to gather and swap newly captured Pokémon among themselves after fights. Even better, players can camp out in the wilderness and play with each other's Pokémon, bonding over a meal, making their roster more willing to shake off negative status effects, even gaining experience to strengthen their squad. The result: You have a sense of being supported by both the game and other players in your quest to become a champion. This feature also carries over to the Isle of Armor, the first DLC(downloadable content) for the game. It adds extra hours to the play, especially if you go hunting for hidden Pokemon scattered through the region, but the plot for this expansion is pretty thin, and your new rival is very underutilized. In some ways, this section could've been wrapped into the base game and nothing would've been lost or radically gained. But overall, while Pokémon Sword and Shield may be easier than earlier games in the franchise, the journey is fun from beginning to end, and makes you eager to catch 'em all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about marketing to kids. With no shortage of Pokémon-themed products available, how do you choose the best to spend your money on?

  • How can you work best with others to accomplish your goals? Can friendly competition between people spur you to become better, or does that shatter the bonds of teamwork?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love role-playing games

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate