With a Pokémon adventure comes the path of a Pokémon trainer paved by Gym Battles and badges. As is with previous installments, the player needs to train their Pokémon and challenge the Gyms within the region to earn one of the many badges needed before facing off against the Pokémon Champion of the region. In Sword and Shield, Leon is the Pokémon Champion and eight Gym badges needed to be held before being able to face him for the title of Champion.
The Gym Leaders each focus on different elements and substantiate their proficiency in that element through the Pokémon they are partnered with. So far I have faced off against Milo who is a master of Grass Pokémon, Nessa, the master of Water Pokémon and Kabu, the master of Fire Pokémon. Before facing off against the Gym Leader, the contenders are first weeded out through the preceding challenge that needs to be overcome. Only those who successfully complete the task can challenge the Gym Leader.
Each of the Gym Leaders have memorable personalities and great character designs. In particular, Nessa, I can see why the internet went crazy for her. Nessa has a great character design and her Pokémon puzzle challenge to gain the right to challenge her was incredibly fun. Her Dynamax Summon pose was incredibly badass too. I hope she is more of a recurring character in the story than defeated Water Gym Leader. Considering Sonia and her are good friends, Nessa may have more of a role to play within the story.
The Gym battle music is fantastically energetic. When the cheering reverberates through the beat, it truly does feel like a global event being featured in. The inclusion of Dynamax Pokémon within the battles makes the moment even more grand and provides a climatic conclusion for the music to enliven.
One aspect I find substantially lacking is the omission to choose what your Pokémon battle outfit is. The default white uniform is fine and all but I would have loved it if the game allowed players to customize what outfit they can wear during the Gym battles. The game already includes outfits as a feature and allows players to cutomize their adventure outfit, so why be so rigid with the Gym uniform? At the very least, the number the player chose when registering shows up on the uniform.
I am not sure if the games allows players to rechallenge the Pokémon Gym leaders again but if it doesn’t that would be another great feature to include. Similarly to how Hop keeps rechallenging the player to only continually lose, it would be fun to rechallenge Gym Leaders as they progress alongside you on your adventure.
Looking forward to facing off against the remaining five Gym Leaders. Also curious to find out who the eight Gym leader not present during the opening ceremony is. Why keep the character a secret? Will the player meet the character before they realise who they are? Whatever the case, excited to experience more!