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Play OverviewPlay Overview

Pokémon (1996) Sword and Shield are role-playing games where you explore a fictional world and collect different creatures called Pokémon. You progress through the game by exploring the world, talking to characters and winning turn-based battles with the Pokémon you've collected.

The aim is to collect Pokémon gym badges and eventually become the region's Pokémon champion. You can level up your team of Pokémon by winning battles and evolving them into different species. You can also trade Pokémon with friends and other players.

Most Pokémon games come in two variants (ie. Sword and Shield). Each version, although similar, is slightly different in what Pokémon it offers. If a friend has one version, you might consider getting the other so you can trade with each other and get all the Pokémon available over both versions. To trade with nearby friends, you do not need to be online, but for trades with other people across the world, you will need an internet connection and a Switch Online subscription.

The game gets gradually more difficult, and you need to learn which Pokémon do well against which kinds of enemies, and, at a high level, you'll need to know exactly what moves and magic to use in battle and when. There is significant strategy and memorisation involved in playing, and the series has a prominent competitive scene. There are almost 900 different species of Pokémon to collect, and each set of games adds more, keeping the gameplay fresh.

The original Pokémon games, Red and Green, launched back in 1996 on the Game Boy console, and since there have been 31 more main series games. The pattern of release is a pair of games that are then followed up by an enhanced version:
  • Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green (Feb 1996) Game Boy
  • Pokémon Blue (Oct 1996) Game Boy
  • Pokémon Yellow (Sept 1998) Game Boy
  • Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver (Nov 1999) Game Boy Color
  • Pokémon Crystal (Dec 2000) Game Boy Color
  • Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire (Nov 2002) Game Boy Advance
  • Pokémon Emerald (Sept 2004) Game Boy Advance
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl (Sept 2006) DS
  • Pokémon Platinum (Sept 2008) DS
  • Pokémon Black and Pokémon White (Sept 2010) DS
  • Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 (June 2012) DS
  • Pokémon X and Pokémon Y (Oct 2013) 3DS
  • Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon (Nov 2016) 3DS
  • Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon Let's Go, Eevee! (Nov 2018) Switch
  • Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield (Nov 2019) Switch
  • Pokémon Legends: Arceus (2022) Switch

Games are also updated and re-released:
  • Pokémon Fire Red and Pokémon Leaf Green (Jan 2004) Game Boy Advance
  • Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver (Sept 2009) DS
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (Nov 2014) 3DS
  • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon (Nov 2017) 3DS
  • Pokémon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl (Nov 2021) Switch

Our examiner, Ben Kendall, first checked Pokémon 3 years ago. It was re-examined by Ellen Robertson and updated 5 months ago.
There are lots of games similar to Pokémon (Series). Here are some we picked for you:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Battle, Collecting and Role-Play game with Adventure, Fighting and Strategy elements. You can play this by yourself or as a 4-player online game. While the main game is a single-player experience, you can take on competitive 1v1 or 2v2 battles and join with up to four friends to complete some battles in the main game.

You can play this game in the following styles:

This has been enjoyed by families in the following styles:


Play Time: This game will take between 17 hours and 40 hours to complete. You can progress through each area of the game quickly, but you might want to explore the different sections and encounter many of the wild Pokémon in each area depending on your play style, significantly increasing play time.


This game is good if you want to:

This game has helped players develop their Disposition, Relationships and Skill as part of the following pathways:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Content Rating

Rated PEGI 7 for Violence. There is mild violence towards fantasy characters that lacks any apparent harm or injury. Battles see two Pokémon exchanging attacks, which results in the loss of health points but no visible injuries.

Pokemon Red/Yellow/Blue were rated PEGI 12 on 3DS for moving images that encourage the use of games of chance that are played as a traditional means of gambling. The player’s character places bets in a ‘slot’ machine. With each loss, the player is asked whether to “play again”. If yes is selected, a further number of bets can be placed followed by a number of losses until the player wins. The number of losses greatly outweighs the number of wins.
Users Interact: The game enables players to interact and communicate with each other, so may expose players to language usually associated with older rated games.

Rated for younger players in the US. Rated ESRB EVERYONE for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence. Players engage in turn-based combat with other trainers. Players select various attacks (e.g. fire, lightning/electricity) from a menu to defeat Pokémon Melee-style attacks (e.g. rolling, scratching, bouncing) are also used, as impact sounds, light effects and diminishing health bars indicate damage. One creature is seen with a large drop of mucous hanging from its nose.

Skill Level

8+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Still, it’s important for parents and guardians to ensure they understand in-game purchases and have spending limits set-up. Younger players enjoy the adventure and characters. As children get older they set about collecting and breeding Pokemon to collect them all. Discovering new tactics and strategies helps them develop tactical planning and lateral thinking.

Our Game Pathways reveal how 6 - 9 year-olds play this game:

Account Rating

  • You need be 18-years-old to subscribe to Nintendo Online, but can then create accounts for children of any age to play online with Nintendo Switch.


You can only play this on older systems (Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 2DS|3DS and Nintendo DS) but can usually find it second hand on eBay.


Switch Store Switch -
There are the following additional costs associated with this game:
  • In-Game Purchases: Additional in-game purchases are offered for items that enhance the experience.
  • You need a subscription to play online:
    • You need to purchase a Nintendo Online subscription to play online with Nintendo Switch.
In Pokémon Sword and Shield, you can buy an expansion pack which allow you to travel to extra areas and catch different Pokémon. It costs £26.99 / $29.99. None of the other Pokémon games contain expansion packs, although to transfer Pokémon from one game to another requires the use of a separate application, which cost money and can be bought for different amounts of time and different prices, depending on your needs. Playing online in battles requires a subscription, as does trading Pokémon. 
It's important to set up your accounts and devices appropriately. More information is on our Financial Resources page.

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 27/02/1996, updated in 2019

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, DS, GBA, Game Boy and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Players: 1 (4 online)

Genres: Battle, Collecting, Role-Play (Adventure, Fighting and Strategy)

Accessibility: 13 features

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Developer: Game Freak Info (@GameFreak_Info)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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