Pokemon's eighth-generation has been blighted by controversy. From accusations of recycled sprites from Sun & Moon to the infamous 'Dexit' scandal, the franchise's first foray on to the home console has not been the smash-hit triumph Pokemaniacs dreamed of it being.
While this might be the albatross that comes with choosing good old Britain as your game's inspiration, it has left Sword & Shield in desperate need of a win. And even with vocal minorities of the fan base and tempered expectations against it, The Isle of Armor came out this week to pleasantly warm buzz.
Now to call if perfect would be hyperbole of the highest form, but to call it a fun, eccentric, well-designed extra slice of Pokemon pie would be bang on. Shaking off the worst of Galar's early growing pains and honing in on what made the Wild Area stand out, a trip to the Isle Of Armor is filled with delightful little moments that stand out.
10. That Coast Hogging Wailord
Moments after stepping on to the Isle of Armor, players are landed on the southern beach from where they can see the great blue 14 and a half metre frame of Wailord splashing round the peninsula. This isn't a cutesy bit of landscaping either; this is a genuine overworld spawn of the Float Whale Pokemon that you can go up to, swim around, battle, and even catch if you feel it's blighting your coastal views.
It's great, not just because its the kind of self-aware ridiculousness that the franchise needed to inject itself with, but also because it shows how much extra care has gone into the new map's design. Seeing the blue behemoth from so far off shows Game Freak are at least starting to push Pokemon's capabilities on the new hardware, but also marks the Isle of Armor as more alive and filled with fun and secrets than any other part of mainland Galar.