Pokémon Sword and Shield has been enjoying robust sales during its first week on shelves. It’s already become the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch title in Japan.
We already covered Sword and Shield’s gameplay in our review of the game, but how do Galar’s new Pokémon and regional variant stack up against previous entries in the popular series?
The good news is most of the Pokémon introduced in Sword and Shield pass the smell test. However, there are a few that might have benefitted from going back to the drawing board. So, we decided to compile a list of the best and worst Pokémon that the Galar region has to offer. For the purposes of this list, neither Sword and Shield‘s starter Pokémon, their evolved forms, nor the Legendary Pokémon in the games will be included.
Now without further ado, here is our list of the best and worst Pokémon of Galar – starting with…
Hatenna looks like a throwback to a simpler time in gaming. The psychic-type Pokémon could easily fit in with the cast of Kirby. Not to mention every stage of its evolutionary chain is equally adorable.
Let’s face it, Corviknight just looks cool from any angle. The raven-inspired design commands both respect and maybe even a tinge of fear. It’s both regal yet mysterious. The Pokémon series has a plethora of bird-like creatures already, but Corviknight still manages to impress us.
Like Corviknight, Drednaw faces some serious competition. There have been a lot of Pokémon designs based on turtles over the years. Does Blastoise ring a bell? Nonetheless, Drednaw carves out an identity of its own and looks like it could have easily walked in off the set of Pokémon Gold and Silver. It’s a fine addition to any trainer’s team.
It’s almost unfair how cute Yamper is. Who doesn’t love Corgis? The best thing about Yamper is that it definitely looks like a modern Pokémon without sacrificing anything that made the classic monsters so iconic.
Carkol is one of those Pokémon that doesn’t look like it should work, but somehow it does. It’s just so ridiculous yet so endearing at the same time. Sometimes Pokémon goes too far in their more abstract designs, so it always feels great to see them actually pull one of their weirder ideas off.
We here at United Squid might be a bit biased towards cephalopods, but Clobbopus is simply amazing. There have been some decent octopus and squid-like Pokémon over the years, like Octillery and Inkay, but Clobbopus is already one of our favorites. Hopefully it will get a cameo appearance in Splatoon 3.
Nothing could ever replace our love for the original fox Pokémon, Vulpix, but Nickit doesn’t need to replace anybody. Nickit is its own thing. Red foxes have always been animal ambassadors of the United Kingdom, so it only makes sense the Galar region would be home to such a delightful Pokémon. Similar to Yamper’s design, Nickit has a modern design that doesn’t betray what makes Pokémon so great to begin with.
Morpeko is another weird concept that Game Freak somehow managed to pull off, including its Hangry Mode alter ego. It’s like Hamtaro with multiple personalities, what’s not to love?
With its bowler hat and Rich Uncle Pennybags-esque mustache, Mr. Rime has tap danced its way straight into our hearts and Pokéballs. It respectfully pays homage to the trailblazing Mr. Mime before it, whilst keeping the integrity of the mime life intact.
Being the evolved form of a Galarian Yamusk, Runerigus is basically the Galarian form of Cofagrigus. Which is awesome. Cofagrigus was inspired by the cursed pyramids (more specifically the pharaoh’s coffins) of Egypt, whereas Runerigus is based on ancient rune stones from Britain and Scandinavia. It’s pure genius.
Believe it or not, I was initially on the fence about Ponyta’s Galarian variant. Its cotton candy design seemed a little too reminiscent of My Little Pony. But honestly, it’s just too cute to turn away from. Galarian Ponyta earns a place on our list of Galar’s best.
Eiscue had to do something to set itself apart from other penguin-based Pokémon like Piplup, so it chose to have an ice block for a head. Risky choice. But it worked. Eiscue, you’re in.
Usually I’m not a fan of Pokémon with puns for names, but Polteagust makes so much sense. It’s yet another one of those ultra-creative designs that sounds crazy on paper, but actually works. The fact that it plays into the British stereotype of tea time is just icing on the cake.
Once you see that Galarian Weezing’s heads are essentially top hats and the green smog on its two faces are hoity-toity beards, you have to give its designers credit. Unnecessary? Maybe. But worth it? Absolutely.
Once people laughed at the thought of ice-cream Pokémon, but as Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker would say, “Nobody’s laughing now.”
I have a soft spot for plant for Grass-type Pokémon. Maybe it’s their ability to cause all sorts of status condition mayhem from poisoning to sleeping, but they just tend to get the job done in disarming ways. Eldgeoss’s dandelion head and its evolutionary chain carry on in the tradition of Bellossom and Roselia. It’s a worthy successor.
What Sirfetch’d lacks in originality, it makes up for in pure spirit. Its smug demeanor makes you feel confident as you enter any battle, even those in which you are severely unprepared for.
Sizzlipede may look like a fiery tapeworm from an active volcano, but it’s our fiery tapeworm from an active volcano. Ya know?
Wooloo is another Pokémon that almost didn’t make the list, but it just blends in with the Galar region so seamlessly that it seemed criminal not to include it and its fleecy pigtails. It’s like the comfort food of Pokémon. You’re just glad it’s there.
And that concludes our list of the best Pokémon in Galar. Now, let’s move onto…
Galar’s variant of Meowth may very well be the worst thing the Pokémon franchise has ever spawned. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong in this alternative design of Team Rocket’s sidekick. Seriously, what were they thinking? Its evolved form, which can be considered the Galarian form of Persian for all intents and purposes, adds further insult to injury. The Alolan variant of Meowth was beautiful. This is just… ugly.
I like the concept of a demonic goblin-like Pokémon, but Morgrem doesn’t match the Pokémon aesthetic at all. It looks more like Zazz from Sonic Lost World than an official Pokémon.
To be honest, I could see Toxtricity growing on me. At least insofar as its usefulness in battle. However, design-wise it also looks too similar to a Sonic Lost World villain than an actual Pokémon.
I just… why? Why? …Why?
Pokémon has done elephant designs before, and there’s definitely room for more. A mammoth-like Pokémon is a cool idea. But Copperajah just doesn’t look right. Its blocky art style doesn’t really register well.
Galarian Mr. Mime
Mr. Mime has always been an oddball of the Pokémon world. The Detective Pikachu movie helped it get the recognition it’s always rightfully deserved, but Sword and Shield isn’t doing Mr. Mime any favors with this lackluster Galarian variant.
The original Corsola has always been a fan favorite. It was one Misty’s primary Pokémon allies in the anime series and is just overall a sound character. Its Galarian variant isn’t quite as charming, but things really go off the rails with the variant’s evolved form, Cursola. Look, the concept behind Cursola is kind of nifty, but it would’ve been better if the developers had just created a new Ghost-type Pokémon rather than modify an existing one to this creepy fate.
Arctozolt (and Dracozolt for that matter) seriously look like they belong in Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz way more than Pokémon Sword and Shield. I love dragon Pokémon and I can appreciate where Game Freak was trying to go with this idea, but it just fell flat for me.
It actually pains me to put Stonjourner on this list. Creating a Pokémon based off of Stonehenge and putting it in the Galar region is an awesome idea. And Stonjourner almost hits the mark, but I can’t help feeling like something’s missing. It just doesn’t have that Pokémon feel to it. Maybe it’s the eyes, but I think it could have benefitted from a few more drafts to arrive at a superior final design than this.
Full disclosure, I actually liked this design when I first saw it. In fact, maybe it’s a bit unfair to put it on the worst list, but I have a gripe to pick with Barraskewda. Is it just me, or does it look a little too Americanized? I know The Pokémon Company hires artists from all over the world to design new Pokémon, but the curving sides of Barraskewda’s mouth and its googly Simpsons eyes just feel a little too removed from the series’ Japanese roots that made it famous.
To be fair, this is another design that might grow on me later. It does look like the snake version Sandile, which is a Pokémon that I happen to like. That said, Sandaconda takes things a bit too far in trying to distinguish itself from other snake-like Pokémon such as Arbok. The design just feels like it’s trying too hard.
Honestly, I like Skwovet and its design. But this dang squirrel and its evolved form have stolen so many of my hard-earned berries that I’m putting it on this list just out of spite.
One of the funnest aspects of playing Pokémon Sword and Shield is seeing all of the new Pokémon those mad scientists over at Game Freak have cooked up for us. While everyone’s list may look different, we hope you enjoyed reading ours. Let us know your favorite (and least favorite) Pokémon of the Galar region in the comments!