Approximately one year ago, IGN published my first freelance byline. I discussed the glaring inaccessibility issues surrounding Pokémon: Let’s Go’s forced motion controls, noting that it was the first unplayable game within my favorite franchise. Now, as Mobility Editor for Can I Play That, I can do nothing but smile as I complete the latest title. Pokémon is back, and I am once again embarking on a quest to become the very best.
Developed by Game Freak, Pokémon Sword acts as the introductory game to the eighth generation of the established series. Trainers travel throughout the Galar region collecting powerful monsters and gym badges, all to become the newest League champion. Exploring the rolling hills and massive cities inspired by England is an absolute delight, and capturing brand-new Pokémon is always a thrill.
Despite releasing on the Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Sword is the most physically accessible entry to date. Even though Nintendo’s consoles lack extensive accessible features, the Switch affords individuals the opportunity to play with their preferred method. Whether docked with a controller, or propped on a table with joy cons, Pokémon Sword greatly benefits from choice.
Aside from incorporating the Switch’s unique controller functionality, Pokémon Sword offers a feature which disables the use of two control sticks. If enabled, ‘Casual Controls’ limits all actions to a single joy con. While this accessibility option is certainly not necessary for the slow pace of a traditional Pokémon game, I never realized how liberating it felt to play for hours without exhaustion. Throughout the course of my playthrough, I only used my thumb to perform EVERY action regardless if I was battling, adventuring, or playing with my monsters in Pokémon Camp.
To coincide with the ease of playing, Pokémon Sword allows players to avoid the use of pesky motion controls entirely. For example, when interacting with your favorite creatures in Pokémon Camp, the game suggests shaking the joy con to perform varying actions. Yet, disabled individuals can expect the same results by simply moving the joystick and pressing the corresponding face button. I still get to play fetch with my Thwackey, or incessantly annoy my Dottler by shaking a feathered toy in its face.
Pokémon Sword even removes the requirement of utilizing stick clicking. When traversing the overworld, wild Pokémon will appear, much like Let’s Go. If a player desires a creature, they can click the left stick to whistle, thus aggravating the Pokémon. However, since each monster is visible, players can simply run into the creature to initiate a battle. There is no need to exert yourself to capture the Pokémon of your choice.
Pokémon Sword is quickly becoming my favorite in the series. As a lifelong fan, I simply adore the new region and creatures, and can’t wait to jump into the competitive scene. As a disabled individual, it’s beyond exhilarating to see Game Freak return to its roots. While Let’s Go left me feeling excluded and forgotten, Pokémon Sword welcomed me with open arms. At long last, I finally returned home.