Pokemon Sword and Shield have come in with a ton of quality of life improvements that make them altogether less frustrating than their predecessors. But I’m about ten hours into Shield and have noticed one of my biggest peeves about the series is still intact.
Take my hand, let me walk you through it.
As bad of a trait as it is for a person who exists on the internet, I have a great deal of trouble with large groups of people laughing at me at once. You want a ticket for the express train to introversion? Fear of public embarrassment is one way to do it.
The easiest way to get people to laugh at you in great numbers is to do something dumb in front of a crowd. While Pokemon might not actively be making the audience watching all my Pokemon battles point and laugh at the sheer idiocy of my tactical decisions, it’s hard not to imagine they would do so when they see what the game’s current design requires me to do when starting a battle.
Picture this: a member of the revered Elite Four begins a battle by sending out their prized star Pokemon. For the sake of this example, let’s say it’s a powerful dragon-type Pokemon like Salamence. He’s an intimidating force, one that I have to be making strategic choices while fighting in order to take down. But I have an ice-type Pokemon in my party. Maybe it’s Glaceon, who will no doubt have some ice attacks that will freeze Salamence right out of the sky.
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But wait. What’s this? Glaceon is not the first Pokemon in my party. My hand moves involuntarily to the first poke ball on my belt and I throw it onto the battlefield. It’s…Torterra. A grass and ground-type Pokemon who is incredibly ill-equipped to fight a dragon like Salamence. I know I have Glaceon on my belt and can send her out. Why did I decide to start this battle with a Pokemon who has no business fighting a flying beast like Salamence? What kind of ignorant, dumb-as-dirt trainer sees a big dragon flying above them and thinks, “I’m gonna send out a Pokemon who is both weakened by a majority of the dragon’s attacks but also doesn’t really even have anything in his arsenal to fight it?”
But everyone in the audience saw what I did. Now I look like a buffoon, an imbecile, a complete nincompoop when it comes to the art of Pokemon battling. Now I must waste a round returning Torterra to his poke ball and sending out Glaceon, who will now take a hit from Salamence’s attack originally meant for my first Pokemon. All because, for some reason, we’re still not allowed to pick a Pokemon at the start of the battle. The plot of each Pokemon game claims we as the player are challenged by every trainer we make eye contact with, so it just seems like it would be common courtesy for us to be able to choose which Pokemon we want to send out first as a reaction to what our opponent presents us with.
Please Game Freak, let me demonstrate to people that I am actually a brilliant Pokemon tactician and not a bone headed ninny who needlessly puts his Pokemon in harm’s way in front of an audience of several hundred people. Thank you.