Some Things Belong to the Past
Pokemon Sword and Shield did a lot of interesting things overall—both in what it added and what it trimmed from the series—to the point of internet oversaturation. Whether it be moves cut, Pokemon removed, the textures on the trees, or other aspects, there’s been much to discuss.
That said, none of the above are what I want to talk about today. Pokemon Sword and Shield made a key change that made the game infinitely more playable for me compared to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
It shut the damn Rotom Dex up.
In Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, if you ever made the mistake of responding to the Rotom Dex, you would be treated to the horror of a creature that would never shut up. Not only that, it would block your bottom screen, which had your map among other things, and it would block it until you responded... and sometimes it would just block everything until you answered it. Then, because you did answer, it was inspired to talk more and more. When it felt like it had talked with you enough, it would even go so far as to give you a nickname—which you would have to decline four separate times to get it to stop on that idea.
That Rotom was like the worst mix of Navi and the Owl from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to maximize annoyance. Oh sure, it had some decent giveaways there that could help, but you were getting endless, needless info, questions that get in the way, and all sorts of other annoyances that slow you down by blocking the screen.
In Pokemon Sword and Shield, while a Rotom is with you powering your Smartphone and functionally is a Rotom Dex, this Rotom is blessedly quiet. There are no questions about intent, no unneeded reminders about things you learned hours ago, and no blocking up the screen until you answer it.
With Pokemon Sword and Shield only having the single screen, anything with the type of screen freezing the Rotom Dex did in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon would be even worse. This could hold up far more and block everything, and it would interact poorly with the Wild Area and the idea of Pokemon on the map wandering about.
So for me at least, while Sword and Shield is a fun Pokemon game with a lot of interesting choices (for good and ill), the thing it did best overall was cut out that feature from the last main Pokemon game. No more Rotom Loto, no more Rotom wannabe Butler, no more Rotom harassment; instead the only Rotom you hear talking is at the PC in PokeCenters. Your own Rotom ‘companion’ on the other hand is silent, and beyond powering up your phone, it even powers your bike, admirably letting it have burst speed and, later on, go over water with the proper upgrade.
The Rotom Dex is a clear reminder that sometimes ideas need to be cut, no matter their inclusion in the past generations. The decision by Game Freak to excise the annoying RotomDex made for a far better game.
Now, I have a newly captured Rotom to feed into a pile of Gengars and Obstagoons to make up for trauma caused by its distant relatives.