Since Pokemon Sword and Shield are sold separately, it is up to us to decide if they are meant to remain separate, or if they are better together. With the different pokemon and various aspects of gameplay that differ between the two games, as well as the joy you get from trading pokemon with your friends, the obvious answer is that these two games are meant to be brought together. It’s time to grab your poke balls, make sure your favorite pokemon is all healed up, and come along on this journey with me to answer the question: what makes Pokemon Sword and Shield so perfect together?
Pokemon Sword and Shield are equally excellent when it comes to gameplay and enjoyability. I’ve played through both of them and loved every minute of it. I started out by playing Shield with a friend of mine; we spent hours sitting side by side, handing the Switch back and forth as we went along, making our way through gym challenges and catching as many pokemon as we could. Eventually, we got to the point where the Pokedex was only missing a few pokemon— namely, the pokemon that were only available in Sword. That was when I decided to purchase Sword as well, because I needed to catch them all.
As I started playing my way through Sword, I noticed that not only were there different pokemon in the game, there were also different options when it came to gameplay in general. I ran through the challenges, keeping an eye out for the pokemon that I needed to complete the Pokedex in Shield, and as I played, it dawned on me that the two games complement each other in the same way that the sword and shield pokemon (Zacian and Zamazenta) complement each other; both are completely fine on their own, but together, they are so much better. With a range of complementary features, from differing Pokemon to differences in gym challenges to even variations in the NPCs you can interact with, Pokemon Sword and Shield really are better together.
When it comes to specific pokemon exclusive to each game, it is impossible to decide between the games. As I played through both games, I realized the equal importance of all the pokemon in both, which only furthered the idea that these games were made to be played together. If I were going to play through them again, I would want to be side by side with a friend, a Switch in each of our hands, playing through and swapping regional pokemon along the way so that we could both enjoy the feeling of filling our Pokedexes in full.
One of the biggest surprises for me across the two games was that there are actually different gym leaders for a few challenges. It was a small difference in terms of how the game plays out, but when viewed side by side, this minor difference adds quite a bit of intrigue to the games as a whole. Since the differing leaders vary their specialties, certain challenges could become quite intense for any player specific about matching pokemon types in battle. Overall, this is an unassuming but quite exciting difference, and it only adds to the list of reasons to play the games together. It is really nice to be able to experience all of the leaders across the games.
The most delightful difference between Sword and Shield was the difference in evolution possibilities for Applin across the two games. If you’re playing Shield, you can evolve your Applin into Appletun, and if you’re in Sword, you can evolve it into Flapple. An NPC in Hammerlocke can be involved in the evolution process, and boy, do they know what they’re doing. This particular difference between the two games is by far the most exciting reason to play the games together; both evolutions of Applin are just so cute!
All of these pieces of exclusive content come together to make Pokemon Sword and Shield the perfect pair. Though there is absolutely nothing wrong with only playing one or the other by yourself, the games really shine through when the adventures they hold are shared with friends. Like two pokemon that are exact complements of each other in type, these two games are perfectly suited to be better together.