190307_START01

‘Pokemon Sword’ and ‘Shield’ includes three new starters: Sobble, Scorbunny and Grookey.

Nintendo last week announced the eighth-generation “Pokemon” games, “Pokemon Sword” and “Pokemon Shield.” Both will be available before the end of the year, and they will bring dozens--possibly hundreds--of brand-new Pokemon to collect, train and battle.

A year ago, I wrote that my time with the “Pokemon” games, which I’ve been playing for a decade, might be coming to an end simply because the series has officially left Nintendo’s 3DS handheld system. At the time, I had no intention of buying Nintendo’s new home console, the Switch, just to play “Pokemon,” no matter how much I might love the series.

But times have changed. Now I’m engaged to an amazing girl who wants a Nintendo Switch for our home once we’re married, and who am I to say no to that? At this rate, I’m fairly confident I’ll be playing “Pokemon Sword” or “Shield” when it launches.

That said, “Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” and “Let’s Go, Pikachu!,” which released on the Switch last year, were lackluster entries in the series and, from what I’ve read, aren’t true mainline “Pokemon” games. “Sword” and “Shield” will be the first “real” “Pokemon” games on the Switch, and here’s what Nintendo needs to include to make them the best the franchise has seen.

‘Pokemon Bank’ support

Years ago, Nintendo introduced “Pokemon Bank,” an application that allows players to transfer captured and bred Pokemon to the cloud to easily organize and transfer them to other games. Neither “Let’s Go, Eevee!” nor “Let’s Go, Pikachu!” supported “Pokemon Bank,” meaning all of the Pokemon fans have caught in 3DS games have yet to make it to the Switch.

For “Sword” and “Shield” to be a hit right out of the gate, diehard fans need the immediate option to import all the pocket monsters they've gathered over the years to keep and grow their collection in one place.

Accessible breeding

The “Pokemon” stories are fun to go through. Who doesn’t like being crowned a Pokemon master at the end of each game after spending hours training their beloved creatures?

But the true fun in “Pokemon” games comes after a player beats the game and is allowed to breed his or her own beasts for competitive battling. Recent “Pokemon” games have made it easier than ever to breed ridiculously strong Pokemon, and I hope “Sword” and “Shield” streamline the process further.

New types

There are several Pokemon types with different strengths and weaknesses. The latest, Fairy type, was added to the series in October 2013, so the “Pokemon” games are long overdue for a new type.

I’m not a serious “Pokemon” player, but I’m willing to bet there are certain types who are significantly stronger than others. This problem led to the introduction of Fairy-type Pokemon to counter the overwhelming strength of Dragon types. A new type could help balance the game further, and it would also lead to …

Fresh designs

Pokemon designs are often garbage—sometimes literally. Every generation since the first has included at least a few Pokemon designs that feel uninspired. Often, fan-created Pokemon designs are more interesting than the official ones.

That needs to change. “Sword” and “Shield” needs to be full of creative and interesting new Pokemon designs to entice new and old fans alike. No more ice cream cones or eggs.

Luckily, the three new starters—Grookey, Scorbunny and Sobble—all look interesting, which gives me hope for their respective evolutions and the dozens of other new Pokemon we will soon meet.

Video game columnist Jake Magee has been with GazetteXtra since 2014. His opinion is not necessarily that of Gazette management. Let him know what you think by emailing jakemmagee@gmail.com or following @jakemmagee on Twitter.