All right, guv'nor? As you are almost certainly aware, the Galar region in Pokémon Sword and Shield is based on the United Kingdom. While the first four regions we encountered in the games - Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh - were all based on locations in Japan, Unova from Pokémon Black and White took inspiration from New York, Kalos from Pokémon X and Y was based on France, and Pokémon Sun and Moon's Alola was developer Game Freak's take on Hawaii.
Residents of any of those places naturally get an extra kick from exploring their respective regions and seeing little familiar things along the way. We've certainly enjoyed noting all the little nods and winks to British culture, architecture, cuisine and more as we've journeyed through Galar on our quest to become the very best.
But what towns and cities provided the inspiration behind the locations in Pokémon Sword and Shield? Well, much of the Galar region's texture seems to have been inspired by a trip to the Lake District taken by the game's director Shigeru Ohmori shortly before the launch of Pokémon Sun and Moon, but there are plenty of other influences to be found, too.
We at Nintendo Life Towers had a chat about the real-life places that the Galar region towns remind us of and came up with the following list of locations we think Game Freak might have drawn inspiration. Obviously, there's a real blend of influences here and British readers will no doubt see glimpses of places we don't mention below, but here are the locales we were reminded of as we journeyed through Pokémon Sword and Shield...
Real-world inspiration: Hmm... Narnia?
Ah yes, towering neon mushrooms! These world-famous British natural wonde-- hang on.
Kicking things off in alphabetical order we have Ballonlea, a dark little hamlet located in a forest of gigantic trees and glowing mushrooms. Frankly, it's the most otherworldly town in the game and doesn't share much at all with any real-life British locale. Its Gym Leader Opal is a Fairy-type specialist, and Ballonlea seems to fuse some Lewis Carroll-style fantasy into the Galar region's map.
So no, we don't really have giant neon mushroom forests. Sorry!
Real-world inspiration: Bath, Somerset
An easy one, this. Bath is a spa town in the South West of England. As you might expect, it's got natural hot springs that the Romans took advantage of to build baths, hence the unimaginative name.
Characterised by its water and lovely architecture (John Wood the Younger's Royal Crescent being a famous example), it doesn't get the snowfall Circhester receives but it's a popular stop-off for tourists venturing outside the Big Smoke of London Town without going too far into the sticks.
Culture, history, hot springs - you can't go wrong with Bath. It's a lovely place, only spoiled by all the insufferably slow, oblivious tourists taking selfies every three metres when you go for a stroll. At least selfie sticks fell out of fashion.
Real-world inspiration: A forest (pick one - The Forest of Dean's a winner)
Glimwood Tangle is a forest you must go through on your way to Ballonlea. It was this area where the 24-hour livestream took place before Pokémon Sword and Shield launched.
There are numerous forests you could argue that Glimwood Tangle draws inspiration from - this list from Country File highlights some of the very finest in Britain, including Grizedale in Cumbria (the Lake District area where Shigeru Ohmori visited), the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Padley Gorge in Derbyshire. You're unlikely to find giant glowing fungi in any woodland area, but given the right weather conditions and time of day, all of the above could stand in well for Glimwood Tangle.
Real-world inspiration: York / Edinburgh
Blending in a healthy dollop of Hyrule and Hogwarts, Hammerlocke's battlements give the city a high-fantasy edge, but it made us think of both the walled city of York located in the North East of England, and Edinburgh, the Scottish capital.
The 'original' York is massively popular with tourists and natives alike - it was voted the best place to live in Britain by the Sunday Times. Home to such cultural gems as York Minster (a big ol' Gothic cathedral), York Castle (a... castle) and the National Railway Museum (which boasts the Flying Scotsman, the Mallard and an operational replica of Stevenson's Rocket), York is overflowing with the sort of history and beauty that visitors imagine fills every corner of Britain. It also does a good pint.
Edinburgh, of course, needs little introduction. A historical and cultural hotspot which is home to all manner of arts festivals and annual events, the Scottish capital gets millions of visitors every year going for the festivals alone and indulging in far too much whisky, haggis, neeps, tatties and tartan - the sole diet of the Scottish in the same way the English live off nothing but fish, chips and cups of tea. Cholesterol doesn't exist in Britain.
Both cities are exceedingly lovely. Of course, there are some pretty dingy corners to be found all around the UK (skip ahead to Spikemuth for more information on those), but if it makes you happy to believe we all live in places as glorious as Hammerlocke, carry right on.
Real-world inspiration: Hull / Grimsby / Dartmouth
Hulbury's docks and market could be a substitute for any number of British seaport towns and cities. Hull and Grimsby spring to mind, perhaps with a splash of the picturesque Dartmouth for good measure, but there are plenty more harbour towns and seaside resorts it resembles.
As seen in Hulbury with its seafood restaurant, most of them have proud traditions when it comes to maritime practices and the fishing industry and are therefore excellent places to get some authentic newspaper-wrapped fish 'n' chips. And we're talking proper fish and proper chips; not fries, not wedges or curlies - chunky, soft, salt-and-vinegar soaked chip shop chips! Every English citizen is required to consume at least a kilo of these per week, as mandated by Prime Minister, Hugh Grant.
Real-world inspiration: Manchester / Liverpool
Steam-powered and industrial, Motostoke blends the mighty cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Both famous port cities that grew prominent during the Industrial Revolution, they'll be best-known to international readers for their football (soccer) teams and as the birthplace of many of the country's best musicians and bands. Among many others, Manchester boasts The Smiths and Oasis while Liverpool gave us arguably the most famous Britons the world has ever known: John, Paul, George and Ringo, better known as the Rolling Stones*.
*This is a joke. John, Paul, George and Ringo were, of course, the Beach Boys.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are actually based on America. In fact, every Pokemon game and also every game that has been made is about America. America is just too cool to not make a game about them. I think the whole world should celebrate Happy America Day every Sept 1st. Also, every man should dress the same way, same colors and same everything and the same goes for women. Plus every man should have the same name and the women too. So many people love this idea a lot. Oh, I forgot to mention that this is Opposite Day, so if you say this is a bad idea then you actually mean it's a great idea. Hehe
The starting town of Postwick may also be a subtle nod to the real-world town of Postwick, just east of Norwich, in my home county of Norfolk. ^_^ Ashens would be proud!
What no love for Doncaster?
The U.K. seems like a parallel universe to the U.S. Except for the fact that I have no idea what a crumpet is.
As someone from Grimsby, I approve of Hulbury
What? Motostoke is definitely Birmingham, if your reasoning is because of the industrial revolution then it has to be the Black Country and thus be Birmingham (Well more the towns around like Dudley, Bilston and Wolverhampton)
@Lordplops don't worry pal.. I'm darn t'too-ad in Barnsley and I love Doncaster! It's well known that Shigeru Miyamoto spent time there in the 90s and based Mario Galaxy on it!
Whit? Edinburgh's braw an aw, but nae Glasgow?! XD
I wonder which country will be next for Generation 9 Pokemon.
Game Freak can consider Indonesia as the next Pokemon region since Indonesia have some history related with Japan and Indonesia have a lot of islands with different cultures for each island. 😁
1) You’re totally not an idiot.
2) I think this is actually the best comment I’ve ever read.
3) You should always voice your exemplary intelligence on NintendoLife.
Galar region is actually based on UK.
Unova was based on New York City.
You put the horse in here but I say that hillside figure might as well be based on that giant bared dong dude in Dorset.
This article is the only thing I've seen about Pokemon Sword/Shield that makes me interested in this game.
They need to go back to basics and make a tight experience built around 150 monster. No complicated mechanics and a solid story are needed.
In fact, get rid of online multiplayer completely.
@Hams96 It’s a bloody outrage is what it is, some wee fannybaws at Game Freak didn’t see the potential in the squinty bridge and Buchanan Street 😉
I’d argue that Hammerlocke is also based heavily on the Tower of London. The architecture, the small houses built into the walls and the fact there’s a vault full of treasures are all very familiar factors.
Love that Spinal Tap reference. I'm more curious about the scale and functionality of these towns; are there really entire towns entirely comprised of a single horizontally-oriented street featuring decrepit, non-specific storefronts that cannot be entered, with a population exclusively comprised of gang members? It's interesting to note that the English Hull is far more picturesque than its namesake sister city in Massachusetts, which calls to mind 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' by Morrissey.
I bought a bandana from that bong shop in Margate years ago!
@Anti-Matter Every game made in existence is about America.
@Zach777 Why thank you.
And here was I thinking Hammerlocke was a take on Camelot...
Last two years, I went on holiday to Cromer. Would live there if I could.
I visited the Galar region for a spot of tea and a good chin wag without any rubbish, mate.
@Lucarianzx UK really is opposite America, if you lose your job medicine becomes more accessible as job seekers get free prescriptions.
And crumpet is what old men call attractive women. As in "that's a nice bit of crumpet".
Well, I'll just accept the Cotswolds and realise that a massive company will never acknowledge a spa town in South West England.
Also loving the mention of oasis and Beatles, some of my favourite bands
Wow Bath made it into a video game! Hope the rugby team features too
Other things I've noticed-
That last one may be a stretch though. You know, 'rule of three' and all that...
@dantesolablood Yeah, U.S. politics are a mess but I thought a crumpet was like a desert or something.
That’d be Spikemuth.
I know that guy.
Ballonlea itself may not have a direct inspiration, but Opal herself seems to based on the Queen.
@Ooyah Cromer sure is a lovely seaside town, I try to go as many times as I can during the summer. ^_^ Sheringham is another nice town, it's about two miles from Cromer.
@DanteSolablood You left out the dirty laugh those old guys make, like ‘Ohohoho, I’d butter that crumpet’.
Yikes! England has really gone down hill!
One day, I somehow managed to walk from Cromer to Salthouse, and I passed through Sheringham... it was indeed very nice. There was another very lovely village along the way... I think it was Weybourne?
p. s. I'm a big fan of the "Slow you down" signs! 😆 And please keep yew a troshin'! 😊
Motostoke reminds me of Birmingham. It's industrial and filled with canals. The stadium even looks like the University's main tower.
Stow-On-Side is at least partly inspired by places like the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and Devon.
@Lucarianzx I guess that means you don't understand cricket. After all, you have to know what a crumpet is to understand cricket, as a certain "ninja" (not "hero") claimed.
@BongoBongo123 You do recall that the first generation games were full of bugs and glitches and horribly unbalanced, don't you? They were still great games that launched an empire, but they were objectively anything but a "tight experience."
Meanwhile, online multiplayer is one of the best things about the franchise since it first became available back in Generation 4.
I think Slumbering Weald is based on the Kent Weald.
I thought that the Toxtricity statues by the lighthouse and the four member Pokémon band being there post-game had made a blatant connection between Hulbury and the Beatles (and so, Liverpool)
@Lucarianzx Haha, sorry. Yup a crumpet is also a bready kind of griddle cake. They're not really that popular but seem to be a stereotype we got labelled with..
Crumpet is also derrogatory slang for an attractive woman mostly used by aging men.
@dantesolablood Yeah I think the american stereotype is hotdogs and beer. Here we associate you guys with tea.
Anyone wanna Trade? I just need the following:
Message me if u fancy helping me out 😁
Thank God they mostly based Galar off a relatively more traditional England/ Great Britain/UK.
If they based it off "modern" UK, the evil team would still be team yell, but the yelling would be all too familiar to people in the counter terrorism profession, and the costumes would be much longer and more suited to deserts, and they would be armed with swords, knives, box cutters and AK-47s and they would probably kill Marnie instead of follow her. That would be a very dark and adult version of pokemon.
@KamenRiderGENM yhea, I thought this looked like a scene from Peaky Blinders...so Birmingham sounds right!
@PiplupJ I'm an Agatha Christie fan, and she based a few on places where people celebrate summer vacation and try to get a tan. (It's Devon she's taking about I think)
She describes it a lot like this summery spot in pokemon!
@BulbasaurusRex I don't remember any major bugs that made me think less of the experience. The game wasn't anywhere near 'broken'. Imo even if it was unbalanced it didn't matter, everyone was on the same level. With online play and the multiple complicated systems in the new games it makes them hard to understand and just not worth 59 quid. Plus the stories of pokemon games are so poor and silly (putting it nicely). They wanna go deep with the ideas about saving the universe when what they should be expressing is the issue with the main characters rival (they should make him a dick again basically).
The slumbering weald could be a reference to the dark hedges in Antrim (famous filming location of game of thrones https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Hedges)
@BongoBongo123 They may not have been broken, but they had far more bugs and glitches than any other Pokémon games to date, most notably the Missingno glitch. Then there's the Ghost type bug, the Hyper Beam bug, the accuracy bug, Focus Energy bug, several other ways to glitch the game, etc. They certainly did affect the enjoyment level to a certain degree.
Unbalanced gameplay is terrible no matter if you're in the same boat or not! How could you ever think otherwise?! You could win just about any battle with a team of Psychic types, while Mewtwo itself was practically invincible one-on-one, and that's just the biggest issue.
How the heck is online play complicated?! It just makes it easier than ever to battle and trade. It simplified things, not made them more complicated! If you don't like things like Max Raid Battles, just don't bother with them.
Some game mechanics like IVs, Natures, and Amie may be too complicated for many players, but those are easily ignored without providing too much of an overall disadvantage in battle. Meanwhile, other mechanical additions over the years like hold items, breeding, and Abilities were great additions (that are quite simple to understand) to the point that you just can't imagine the games without them anymore. Just look them up on Serebii or Bulbagarden if you need a refresher. On the contrary, the first generation's mechanics were far too simple in comparison. Meanwhile, other additions like the added types, special defense, and move specific physical/special split were absolutely necessary to properly balance the games.
Who cares about the relatively simple stories? Nobody plays Pokémon specifically for the stories. They are what they are to appeal to the target demographic. Besides, the first generation's story was just as juvenile as any of the others (dealing with a dick rival is no better of a story and arguably even more juvenile than the saving the world plots), while the best story we've had to date was in the relatively more recent Black/White games.
Waitwaitwait, I thought Motostoke was an analogue for Glasgow?
@Anti-Matter That's an awesome idea. I would love to see that Indonesia-influenced Region.
As an aside, I once made a concept of a Pokemon region based on not just Indonesia, but the entirety of Southeast Asia. Since SEA is a mish-mash of different cultures, I made that region a multiple-part region like Alola and Kalos, with one part analogous to Thailand and Myanmar, another part analogous to Vietnam, Laos etc., the next one analogous to the Philippines, and the last one analogous to Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei etc. The Pokemon League for that region was set in Singapore.
What do you think? Do you think this could be realistic?
The german localists really missed the mark by renaming "Wyndon" into.... Score City.
A little disappointed with Stow-on-side here.
I got insanely excited when I first saw it in the game. I was thinking of the Minack Theatre, which was built to look Greek and is also located next to the cliff, close to Lands End!
Of course it's not a city, but it's insanely interesting to say the least!
@Xylnox you are absolutely deluded. Clearly Galar is the uk, Kalos is France and the gen 1-4 is Japan! Gen 5 and 7 I’ll give you ,but if you think j every region is America, you are an idiot
@Anti-Matter that would be cool!
@Xylnox has been reported
@Xylnox you are only saying as you have been called out by multiple people.
You think you're calling me out but it was a joke. If you read more article posts then you'll see me occasionally post jokes.
@Pokejackofalltrades @Xylnox stop it you two.
Please do not start arguments over comments that were made so long ago. Specially when they're that inconsecuental.
And let's not insults other users.
@Eel @Pokejackofalltrades I apologize for my actions. I just couldn't believe someone would necro a thread and then take my comment for such seriousness when I was joking. Anyway, I reacted poorly and I am sorry.
Wouldn’t Stow-on-Side literally be based off of Stow-on-the-Wold?!
@WillQuan As someone who is also from Grimsby, I get the blend. Especially with the Alexandra Dock.
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