Pokémon Sword and Shield: new UK nods include tea and curry

The references to British culture in Pokémon Sword and Shield are a bit barmy and quite endearing...

Pokémon Sword and Shield, the upcoming RPG games for Nintendo Switch, are heavily inspired by the UK. The games are set in Galar, a Britain-based region in the Pokémon world that will play host to the 8th Generation of cute critters.

In an interview with US Gamer, Pokémon Sword and Shield director Shigeru Ohmori explained why the team at Game Freak took inspiration from the UK when crafting the Galar region: “It kind of ties into the main scene we have for the game,” he explained, “which is this idea of being the strongest or the greatest. Being on the Nintendo Switch, I wanted to really challenge myself to create the greatest Pokemon experience yet using all the hardware power we didn’t have before.” These ideas of power, strength and greatness reminded Ohmori of his trips to the UK.

As he puts it: “I’ve been to the UK on trips, and I just get a kind of sense of strength and greatness from the region, you know, the home of the Industrial Revolution, and all these people trying to aim for greatness. We translated some of that feeling into the Galar Region.”

In this article, we’ll chronicle every way in which Galar is showing its UK influence, starting off with the newest reveals…

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You can bond with your Pokémon over curry

In a brand new promo video for Sword and Shield, Nintendo has revealed that players will be able to cook curries with their critters. In a new area called Pokémon Camp, up to four players can work together with their Pokémon to throw ingredients into a pot and rustle up some tasty curries.

As well as choosing ingredients, players will have to fan the flames beneath the pot and give the tasty mixture a stir. You also have to ‘put your heart into it’, which involves throwing a golden heart into the mix. It looks incredibly cute.

Since many a friendship in Britain was forged over a plate of hot curry, this feels like a neat extension of the connection between Galar and the UK. We’ve got to admit that we didn’t see it coming, though, and we sure hope there aren’t any horrifically spicy options that will ruin your Pokémon’s tastebuds.

The critters of Galar also have a British flavour

There will also brand new creatures introduced in the game, with some of these pocket monsters having a UK-inspired feel. For instance, we’ve embedded a picture Polteageist above: this ghost-type critter literally lives in a teapot. And there’s nothing more British than cups of tea, right?

There’s also the electric corgi Yamper, a yellow-tinged canine that is probably the sort of creature that her royal highness Queen Elizabeth II would approve of. And there’s even Alcremie, a Pokémon that looks like an Eton Mess and uses whipped cream in its attacks. And let’s not forget the water-type bird Cramorant, which looks like the sort of demented seagull that would definitely steal your chips.

Additionally, the sword and shield of the game’s titles, which are wielded by the legendary creatures Zacian and Zamazenta, could be seen as a reference to the ancient weaponry of British myths and medieval history. These legendary creatures also have a red, white and blue colour palette, just like the Union Jack flag.

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Also, much like the Hawaii-inspired Alola region of Pokémon Sun and Moon, the Galar region will play host to ‘Galarian forms’ of pre-existing creatures from the franchise. Among these Galar variants is the new version of Weezing, which looks a bit like the iconic Battersea Power Station. 

Another pre-established creature that has a Galarian form is Zigzagoon (along with its evolved forms, Linoone and Obstagoon). Traditionally, Zigzagoon looks like a racoon, but this new version has a closer resemblance to the sort of badger you’d find in the UK. The evolved version of Obstagoone looks like a cross between a badger and Gene Simmons, so much so that the Kiss singer was moved to comment on the critter. (He found it “flattering,” if you were wondering.)

The UK-inspired landmarks are obvious

In the first Sword and Shield gameplay footage (which was revealed during a video called Pokémon Direct), it was easy to spot an industrial-looking area with an eye-catching clock tower. This could be interpreted as the Pokémon equivalent of London complete with its own Big Ben.

The gameplay footage also showcased a location that includes an artwork presented on a hill. To any British person, this would seem to be a reference to the chalk-made hill figures (such as the Uffington White Horse in Oxfordshire), which can be found at various locations around the UK.

There was also emphasis given to a moment in which the player-character walks into a big stadium. If you’re looking for connections to British culture, this could be seen as a nod to our obsession with football and other massive sporting events.

People in Galar include punks and sports fans

When we took part in a hands-on gameplay preview event for Sword and Shield, a Nintendo representative told us that the people of Galar are obsessed with Pokémon battles and that your character will become something a celebrity. People you meet will remember how you did in your last battle, for instance, just like footy fans might mention the form of their favourite player if they met them in the street.

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Footy fans aren’t the only Brits that seem to have inspired characters in Sword and Shield, either, with a recent trailer for the game revealing the punk-looking Team Yell. These evildoers represent the latest in a long line of villainous teams in the franchise, which dates all way back to Team Rocket in Pokémon Red and Blue.

And finally, the Galar map looks awfully familiar…

A full map of the Galar region has also been shared, and it certainly does have a ‘tall and thin with a pointy bit at the top’ design that looks more than a little bit like Britain.

Well, more specifically, the map of Galar looks a lot like England and Scotland. Wales and Ireland seem to be missing, which could be a bit of a shame for Poké-fans that live in those countries. (Could a DLC perhaps be added later?)

That’s basically everything we know about the connection between Sword and Shield and the UK, for now, so we’ll leave you with some funny Tweets about the topic…

Pokémon Sword and Shield will launch on Nintendo Switch on 15 November 2019. Also, the UK’s first Pokémon Center shop will open in October.