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Sobble’s Popularity Surprised Game Freak, Plus More Interesting Facts About Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Starters

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The release date for Pokemon Sword and Shield is drawing closer, and Game Freak’s been introducing us to more of the Pokemon we can expect to see in the Galar region. The studio recently granted Game Informer an in-depth look at the new Pokemon adventures, including a meet-and-greet with its starters.

For all we’ve learned about Pokemon Sword and Shield (including “Hey, the Galar region has Ponyta variant and it’s not a Fairy-type for some reason!“), Game Freak is being extremely coy about the evolutions for Scorbunny, Grookey, and Sobble. Not even Game Informer‘s extensive Pokemon Sword and Shield preview yields much information. However, the game’s director, Shigeru Ohmori, says the starters’ evolutions should make it clear why these three seemingly “unconnected” animals are native to the UK-inspired Galar region. Curiouser and curiouser.

For now, we have everything you could want to know about the starter Pokemon’s initial forms. What does your choice of starter say about your personality? Why is Sobble so darn sad? Let’s do some serious nature study.



Hasenpheffer to go. | Game Freak/The Pokemon Company

He has flammable patches on the bottoms of its feet – The pale patches on the pads of Scorbunny’s big feet are kind of like flints. They’re the reason it leaves behind burning footprints wherever it walks. Might want to keep it away from forests during dry seasons.

The patch on his nose symbolizes its rambunctiousness – If you’re a fan of manga and/or anime, you’re probably familiar with the trope of the energetic kid with a bandage across their nose. The patch on Scorbunny’s nose is supposed to resemble that bandage. “It gives us the sense that Scorbunny might just run off at any time or get us into trouble,” says Ohmori.

A fast, energetic person might choose Scorbunny as a starter – Got energy to spare? Scorbunny might be the starter for you. “I think the person that would choose a Scorbunny would be a person that could keep up with it, that likes to run around a lot,” says Ohmori. I plan to choose Scorbunny as my starter and walking to the washroom tires me out, so I don’t know what that says about me.



“I AM LARGE.” | Game Freak/The Pokemon Company

Grookey’s stick brings life to all it bashes – Grass and other foliage grows on whatever Grookey hits with its stick. Does that mean the stick will be an integral part of Grookey’s evolved forms? Game Freak isn’t telling.

Why another monkey starter when we already have Chimchar? – Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS gave us a monkey starter with Chimchar, so why is Game Freak going with another monkey starter for Pokemon Sword and Shield? “I think that just as like there are many types of monkeys in the world, it’ll be interesting to see what this guy becomes,” Ohmori laughs. “Through the evolutions, I think you’ll see differences in these monkey-themed Pokemon.” Cue some jokes about how Grookey might simply evolve into a human. Hey, it worked in E.V.O.: Search for Eden.

You might choose Grookey as your starter if you like to party – Grookey’s jovial energy might suit someone who loves to dance or party, Ohmori says. Finally, a Pokemon well-suited for barhopping during Spring Break. Just imagine a half-conscious, hung-over Grookey trying to type out its woes on a modified communication console. “Pray…For…Grookey…”

Sobble is designed to be more subdued next to Grookey and Scorbunny – If its sad little face wasn’t enough of a clue, Sobble is purposefully designed to look and act a bit demure compared to the happier Scorbunny and Grookey. Someone has to suffer for the sins of Galar region’s populace, and it sure isn’t going to be that heathen party animal Grookey.

Sobble’s popularity with Western fans surprised Game Freak – “In Japan, there definitely is a culture of feeling like something’s cute because you kind of feel sorry for it a little bit,” says Ohmori, “so I knew [Sobble] would be well received in Japan.” Sobble was immediately embraced outside Japan as well. Its ever-anxious personality seems to hit a note with Millennials saddled with insurmountable student debt and impending climate disaster. D’aww, our future is hopeless, and Sobble knows it!

Sobble was designed by two women – Visual designers and gameplay/feature planners teamed up to design the Pokemon in Pokemon Sword and Shield. In Sobble’s case, two ladies designed the lovably sad creature.

If you’re kind and caring, you might choose Sobble as your starter – Game Freak says people who are kind-hearted might gravitate towards Sobble, though its shy, bashful nature should make it an easy sell for introverts. Sobble can also turn transparent when it’s submerged in water, and I’m not going to lie, that sounds like one of my dream superpowers.

Pokemon Sword and Shield come to the Switch on November 15. You can check out our Pokemon Sword and Shield guides for everything you need to know about the game beyond “What does my choice of starters say about my placement on the Myers Briggs chart?”

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