In past games, the limit a Pokemon can consume 1 type of Vitamin, such a Protein, is 10, giving it 100 EV points. Now you can have the Pokemon consume 25 of one vitamin, giving it 250 EV points.

The game’s cities and battles feel bigger, too; each city is built around a gigantic stadium where battles can happen in front of thousands of spectators. And these cities all have distinct and memorable designs that usually complement the Pokémon type used in the stadium. Sadly, though, there’s not much reason to come back to most of these cities once you clear the stadium challenge and break into everyone’s homes to look for items. The reduced Pokédex also seriously limits the variety of possible monster teams and strategies that make the competitive circuit interesting. When you’re playing the single-player campaign, the amount and variety of Pokémon available actually feels pretty good.

Keep in mind, however, that using the mints doesn’t change the displayed nature of your Pokemon, but it will change the stats. Something that has changed to anyone who plans on EV training their Pokemon is that you can actually use the vitamin items more than 10 times.

This generation of Pokemon really reminds me of Generation 5, Black and White. The reason for that is because it feels like a bit of a soft reset to the Pokemon game series, much like what Black and White were, as well as some aspects of the story and characters. This generation highlights the gym leaders a bit more than most of the other generations, but not as much as 5. There were even those speech bubbles that would pop up around NPCs if you’re close to them that reminded me of a lot of the speech bubbles in Gen 5. Players take on the role of a Pokemon trainer who is joined by a childhood friend VLC media player and rival, Hop.

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Together, they take on the Gym Challenge, in which aspiring trainers battle eight leaders around the country. After choosing from one of three starter Pokemon – Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey – players set off to catch wild Pokemon, filling out their Pokedex, and assembling their own team.

And before you casually dismiss that rationale, the monsters that are in Sword and Shieldare clearly more than just refurbished versions of the models used in the 3DS games. Every Pokémon that makes the jump to the Switch needed to be retextured and tweaked and made usable in the mega-sized Dynamax mode . It’s clearly a non-trivial amount of work, especially when multiplied across a sprawling history of 800-plus monsters. While Sword and Shield are lovely, the more you play the game, the more you start to notice the diminishing budget.

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I’ve been importing certain individual Pokémon from game to game since 2003, and I always appreciated that Game Freak encouraged this kind of sentimental attachment. The bottleneck is, supposedly, a lack of development time and resources.

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For longtime players and monster collectors, though, it’s hard not to feel a bit resentful. Suddenly, a series that has focused on catching ‘em all for more than two decades has decided that hundreds of Pokémon are not actually essential to the Pokémon experience after all.