We’re only a couple of months away from the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield and the games’ trailers have given us plenty to get excited about. For us, the very best thing about Sword and Shield is that they’re set in the UK-inspired Galar Region.
As a British site, we've always imagined running around our local towns and countryside catching ‘Mon and collecting Gym Badges. That childhood dream is finally going to become a reality, and the fact that UK culture seems to have flavoured numerous aspects of Sword and Shield only enhances the hype here at Nintendo Life Towers With that in mind, we thought we’d root out all the examples of British culture we could find in the Sword and Shield trailers, just to see how deep the influence runs. Here’s hoping we’ve noticed ‘em all! Ahem.
Britain’s Got Tyrunt
Perhaps the most obvious influence on Galar is the geography of the British Isles. The Galar Region has a shape similar to that of the UK (minus Wales and Northern Ireland, sadly), with Galar exhibiting a long, slender landmass surrounded by sea. Look closer at the Galar map and we see environments similar to those found in Blighty, with lakes akin to the Lake District, farmland akin to East Anglia and mountain ranges akin to the Scottish Highlands. Pokémon worlds are known for their inclusion of different habitats that harbour different kinds of Pokémon, and real-life Britain has so many different types of ecosystem. Geographically speaking, Britain is the perfect template for a Pokémon region.
Examine the Galar map even more closely and you get a good picture of the individual places we’ll be visiting in Sword and Shield. Throughout the various towns and cities are landmarks that will be instantly recognisable to any Brit. In the Northern-most city, we see buildings based on Big Ben, the London Eye, even a cluster of London-esque skyscrapers. Clearly this city is based on England’s capital and it seems like it might be the final destination of the game. Could it even be home to the Galarian Pokémon League?
Linking all of Galar’s cities and towns are railway lines. We British love our trains, and not just because their constant delays and cancellations give us something to complain about. No, we love them because steam power and the Industrial Revolution that came with it helped build the Britain we know today. Pokémon Sword and Shield seem to pay homage to this with an entire city based on the power of steam, and this steam city’s aesthetic is strikingly similar to that of London’s St. Pancras Station.
But why do Galar’s British-inspired residents need such an all-encompassing transport network? To get to sports events, of course! In Britain, we turn up to sporting occasions in our thousands, and it looks like Gym Battles in Sword and Shield are a much more public affair than in previous games – you only have to look at the crowds in the trailers to see that! In fact, the green pitch, striped sports shirts and giant stadiums mirror what you see at football matches, and the UK loves its football.
Of course, the main attraction in any Pokémon game are the monsters themselves. Following the trend established in Pokémon Sun and Moon, we have regional forms of traditional Pokémon and, so far, they seem to be strongly influenced by British animals and culture. Zigzagoon and its evolutionary line have moved from resembling raccoons (a creature not found in the UK) to resembling the badger, a common UK countryside resident. We’ve even got Obstagoon, a new regional variant that evolves from Galarian Linoone.
Weezing’s new Galarian form is a cultural explosion of British influence. Galarian Weezing appears to be a mixture of a Victorian gentleman, complete with moustache and eccentric top hat, and perhaps Battersea Power Station. For those living outside of the UK, the towering chimneys of Battersea are an iconic London landmark. The result is one of the most hilarious Pokémon designs we’ve ever seen, and Galarian Weezing is certain to be a fixture of our squad come November.
God Save The Nido-Queen
While we can look forward to seeing what other Galarian forms will appear in the game, we also know about a few brand-new Pokémon. Firstly, let’s mention Yamper, an adorable Electric-Type that bears a striking resemblance to the Queen’s favourite breed of dog, the Corgi. Of course, the Royal Family are a huge part of UK culture, so designing a Corgi-esque Pokémon was probably a no-brainer for Game Freak. Makes you wonder if there will be a character based on Her Majesty, as well?
Corviknight is another Pokémon from the new line-up that stands out. Covered in a suit of feathered armour, this Flying/Steel-Type Pokémon is likely a representation of the ravens living in the Tower of London. This London landmark is famous for its winged residents, and British superstition tells that, if the ravens in the Tower of London are ever lost, the Crown and Britain will surely fall. That’s a lot of responsibility, Corviknight.
A Wolf In Mareep’s Clothing
One look at the two new legendary Pokémon Zacian and Zamazenta, and gamers will be able to see the wolf resemblance. Wolves were originally native to Britain until they were hunted to extinction hundreds of years ago (sad doggo face), but they are still a big part of our heritage. Zacian and Zamazenta are a nod to this, and their sword and shield-based design links to Britain’s blood-soaked medieval history. That being said, they do seem to be teaming up against a mystery something in the trailer. Maybe against a big red dragon, akin to the one on the Welsh flag?
The Great British Public-itung
Finally, we need to talk about the human residents of the Galar Region. Whilst not as important as the ‘Mon themselves, the Galarians (is that the right word?!) do have a decidedly British vibe, at least in some cases.
Gym leader Milo specialises in Grass-Type Pokémon, and his big sun hat and green Gym Leader attire gives off a very gardener-y vibe. We British love our gardening, and a couple of gardening shops scattered throughout Galar also seem to be a reference to this.
Then there’s Team Yell. Fanatical fans of Marnie (one of the player’s rivals), members of this villainous team boast a punky look, with vibrant pinks, chockers and studs aplenty. Punk Rock has its roots in UK history and has been a huge part of British culture for decades. Interestingly, Team Yell seem to be a kind of meta-commentary on toxic fandom. Pretty deep for a Pokémon game!
Three Pyroars On A Shirt
From iconic UK animals to football stadiums, it seems Pokémon Sword and Shield are rife with references to Britain. In fact, we would argue that British culture has influenced the game beyond even how Hawaii influenced Sun and Moon’s Alola. We also think this new level of real-world emulation is a brilliant move by Game Freak, as the UK is such a rich and diverse place, the perfect inspiration for a Pokémon game’s world!
But what do you think? Are you excited about exploring UK-inspired Galar? Did we miss any nods to British culture? Let us know with a comment.