So that was fast. It turns out that modding Pokemon Sword and Shield wasn’t that hard. By cracking open the game code, a Twitter user named SciresM, has already been able to find a way to get older Generation roster entries into the new iteration without too much trouble. The modder even found a way to port animation data into the Switch version. The currently released version of the game is a bit infamous for restricting the roster to a limited number of Galar-specific monsters.
As previously reported by NintendoLife, modders have been able to completely change the way the Switch game is played. The modding was accomplished by using a tool many Pokemon fans will know well, PKHeX. And while PKHeX wasn’t key to modding, it just enabled some testing, the modder was able to get an animated version of Omastar into the Switch game. Check out the progress so far in the Tweets below.
And despite that initial blowback on launch over things like the reduced roster size and some pretty annoying bugs, the game is going gangbusters in terms of sales in various regions. Pokémon Sword alone is the UK No.1, and the biggest exclusive game of the year. In fact, Pokémon Sword is the third biggest boxed game launch of 2019 in that region. And we can expect similar numbers to be reported all over the globe. A big part of the draw is the new battle system and items which offer completely new gameplay experiences, like Gigantamaxing.
And while there are obviously some hurdles, and plenty of work left to do, this works as a great proof-of-concept. The feat not only introduced models dating all the way back to Generation 1 including animations, but also demonstrates that as long as 3D models exist, the technique should be repeatable. Animations are not without issue, and obvious stats are not correct, but the core concept looks workable.
The modder who reported this first success says that scaling the work of modding the full roster into the game is difficult but possible. There will need to be some streamlining of the process of obtaining and converting model and animation data. There’s also the necessity to develop software tools to handle the conversion process to file formats usable by Pokemon Sword and Shield. Other post-conversion work like polishing animations remains to be done as well.
So although there are going to be many people interested in ways to bring back the full 800+ roster into the new Generation, it will take some time to get to that level. So if you’re talented enough to handle such a task, consider looking into starting some of this work yourself. For everyone else though, we will just have to be content with the original version of Pokemon Sword and Shield for now. Pokemon Sword and Shield is out now exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.