Every set of Pokémon games brings a bevy of Pokémon to collect, train and battle with, and the newest eighth generation of games were no different. The “Pokémon Sword” and “Pokémon Shield” games, released on Nov. 15, introduced 81 new species and 13 new variants of previously existing species.
While there aren’t as many new Pokémon introduced as there were in previous generations of games, a significant portion of these Pokémon are powerful, cute or otherwise unique to find and befriend. Here are just some of the creatures that you don’t want to miss on your adventures through the Galar region in “Sword” and “Shield.”
If you love complaining about how Pokémon designs are becoming too weird, reading this article might be bad for your health. Out of all of the new Pokémon, Stonjourner has to be in the top five most confusing, head-scratching and overall bizarre new species to be introduced. And that’s the best thing about it. Pokémon in the Galar region are mostly themed around British customs and history, and Stonjourner is one of the most obvious examples of these homages.
Stonjourner is inspired by Stonehenge, the enormous stone monument which is located in Wiltshire, England. One of the character’s descriptions even says that “once a year, on a specific date and at a specific time, they gather out of nowhere and form up in a circle,” just like how Stonehenge was designed to match up with the sunrise of the summer solstice.
The Pokémon’s gentle expression and sedentary nature belie its strength and stamina in battle. It’s a very strange Pokémon, no doubt, but it’s unique and it has a lot of character.
One of the most anticipated Pokémon in “Sword” and “Shield” was Galarian Ponyta and its evolution, Rapidash. These two were originally introduced in the first generation of Pokémon games as fire-type horses. They’ve been featured heavily in Pokémon material throughout the years, so when Nintendo teased an updated form of the beloved horses, fans got excited. The Galarian variant of Ponyta is a technicolor rainbow unicorn that has drawn comparisons to “My Little Pony” and the Lisa Frank aesthetic.
It’s a psychic-type Pokémon, which is odd, since it looks a lot like fairy-type Pokémon usually do — graceful and serene with a cotton candy color scheme. However, there’s a good reason for the unexpected typing: These unicorns are based off of the creatures from Scottish folklore that are notable for being able to create antidotes to poison.
In Pokémon’s rock-paper-scissors battle system, psychic is strong against poison, whereas fairy is weak against poison. These little details are what make the creatures from Galar so interesting to learn about.
There’s no doubt about it: Galarian Stunfisk and its distinctive, sharp body are unpleasant to look at. So what’s it doing on a list of the best Pokémon from Galar? Well, it has a lot of character to it, going all the way back to the original Stunfisk from the fifth generation.
The little guys have always been overlooked for their unassuming appearances and overall weakness in battle. Despite these less than stellar attributes, the trap Pokémon was chosen to be one of the lucky few Pokémon that got a Galarian variation.
In the new games, the flatfish-like creature gains a steel-typing to go along with its new jagged teeth around the edges of its body. Yeah, Stunfisk isn’t messing around anymore: it’s a bear trap. In the games, instead of hanging out in tall grass like most Pokémon, it sits in the middle of dark caverns and blends in with its surroundings.
It’s easy to overlook and walk right past it, but if you do end up noticing the creature, you might mistake its red and white beak as a collectible that you can pick up and use. When you manage to catch one, you’ll find out that Stunfisk will jump up and clap its steel “jaws” together in battle in order to attack, but will still lazily flop around like a pancake when outside of a fight. It’s charming in its absurdity.
Following in the footsteps of numerous other cute fox Pokémon, like Fennekin, Vulpix and Leafeon, comes Nickit. Nickit is a red fox like Vulpix, but it eschews Vulpix’s kitsune-like attributes to instead be a regular red fox. It’s extremely cute and can be found running around in the early sections of “Sword” and “Shield,” frolicking through tall grass and practically begging to be caught.
This adorable creature acts the part of a sneaky trickster fox from folklore — it “survives by stealing food from others,” learns moves like Thief, and even has an ability called Stakeout. Even its name has to do with stealing, since it could be read as “nick it,” slang for “steal it.” It evolves into a Pokémon called Thievul, which has markings like a classic burglar’s mask on its face. Like most other Pokémon in the region, Nickit has a well-executed theme that makes it unique, and it has a lot of personality as a result.
The Fossil Pokémon
The fossil Pokémon in Galar are actually four Pokémon: Arctozolt, Arctovish, Dracovish and Dracozolt. You acquire them by collecting fossil specimens and giving them to a scientist, who then revives them and presents you with one of these Pokémon that, to be frank, look like they were better off as skeletons.
They’re really bizarre and somewhat unsettling; why does Dracozolt look like it’s wearing pants instead of having a bottom half? Why is Arctovish’s mouth on the back of its head? They look like somebody grabbed a bunch of Pokémon parts, fit them together at random and called it a day.
That’s because they did. These four creatures are inspired by chimera fossils, which are fossil collections that are actually made up of more than one species; for example, if two dinosaurs of different species die close to each other, paleontologists might assume that the two sets of fossils are just one large creature.
This happened a lot before modern technology allowed paleontologists to distinguish between two separate species, and the dinosaur sculptures from 1854 at the Crystal Palace Park in London are a great example of misconceptions of this nature. The fossil Pokémon have been put together incorrectly by an in-game scientist as an homage to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs. The inspirations for the Pokémon in Galar really come from everywhere.
That’s what makes these Pokémon so special: their inspirations. The designers pulled ideas from around the globe when creating them in “Sword” and “Shield” and, as a result, the games have a unique personality that differentiates them from prior titles in the series. There are tons of great Pokémon in the Galar region — hopefully this list inspires you to start your own journey.