The Pokemon Community Has Gone Full-Blown Toxic Over Sword and Shield

#IStandWithSerebii trends on Twitter after angry Pokemon fans attack one of the community's most helpful people.

Nintendo/ The Pokemon Company

A large chunk of the Pokemon fandom seems to have taught themselves TM06 in response to their dissatisfaction with the upcoming Pokemon Sword and Shield games for Nintendo Switch. That's the in-game means of making your Pokemon learn the move Toxic, for any of you non-fans.

With Pokemon Sword and Shield set to launch on Friday, the online Pokemon fan community is wrapped up in a storm of inner turmoil. Every official Pokemon post on social media is being barraged with negativity, and the Pokemon subreddit is mired in complaint threads––all over a game that hasn't even come out yet.

sword and shield mr mimeNintendo/ The Pokemon Company

Their ire boils down to an overwhelming sentiment that Game Freak, the development team behind the Pokemon games, is giving them a subpar product. Many of their issues center around "Dexit," the fan term for Game Freak's decision to make roughly 400 Pokemon species unavailable in Sword and Shield––a particularly unpopular direction for a series wherein every previous Pokemon has been available in every subsequent mainline game since its inception over 20 years ago.

On a personal note, I agree with a lot of the complaints. I've been a dedicated Pokemon player since Gen 1, when I got the original Pokemon Blue alongside my first Gameboy. So yes, I've been disappointed in everything from the cut Pokemon to the newer Pokemon designs, and if it weren't for Chonk Pikachu, there's a good chance I would have canceled my preorder.

That being said, the Pokemon community's toxicity has gotten out of hand. Complaints and dissatisfaction are fine, but recently, some fans have taken to lashing out at game developers, and even other fans, who simply want to enjoy their own gameplay experience. And while personally being upset about a game not turning out the way you want it to is totally understandable, attacking other people, accusing the game developers of lying, and going so far as to send death threats is completely inexcusable.

If you've been on Twitter recently, you might have seen #IStandWithSerebii trending. For those out of the loop, is the most prominent Pokemon news site, having been in operation for over 20 years and providing a veritable treasure trove of Pokemon info. Amazingly, it's also fan-run. The site's creator and webmaster, Joe Merrick, is a bit like a Pokemon fandom celebrity, considering his dedication to running a core source of information for one of the world's biggest franchises.

Like most Pokemon fans, Merrick hasn't exactly been celebrating the loss of over 400 Pokemon in the new games. But he's also a seemingly nice, level-headed guy, and he's been vocal about not supporting anyone taking their anger out on the game's developers.

On November 8th, after the Pokemon Company in Japan canceled their Sword and Shield launch event due to "operational reasons," Merrick Tweeted a nice, sympathetic message to the game's director, Junichi Masuda.

The message is in Japanese, but it basically expresses the fact that the vocal outrage is not indicative of the feelings of every fan, and while many people might have different opinions about the new games, a lot of fans still appreciate all the fun and imagination that comes part and parcel with a new Pokemon game. Merrick later Tweeted appreciation for the franchise under #ThankYouGameFreak.

Well, some Pokemon fans didn't take kindly to this and started attacking Merrick on Twitter and even, allegedly, sending death threats. The unprecedented toxicity against Merrick, a person who has brought nothing but positivity to the Pokemon community, resulted in a rallying cry for sanity from the portion of the Pokemon fanbase who, you know, aren't real monsters. Thus began #IStandWithSerebii.

Merrick's partner, Marti, utilized the hashtag to lament her SO's treatment by the fanbase.

Many people expressed extreme disappointment in their community.

Some even took a harsher approach, pointing out how pathetic a person must be to send out death threats over a video game.

And, in what might be the only positive thing to come out from the entire Sword and Shield debacle, Merrick got the message of support loud and clear.

But the truth is, no matter how mad you are about anything in a video game, even a franchise you've loved for over 20 years, it's never justifiable to use that passion to attack another person. Purposely ruining enjoyment for other fans because they like something you don't like is never okay. Writing mean messages to a game developer because you're mad a game feature wasn't included is never okay. And sending death threats over a video game is never, ever, ever okay. No matter how anyone feels about Sword and Shield, we need to be better than that.

Screenshot: The Cutting Room Floor (ResetEra)

With Pokemon Sword and Shield set to launch in just a few short weeks, I can't help but feel a little underwhelmed.

It's not the lack of a National Dex, as I'm fairly confident those cuts aren't permanent, and I'm not hardcore enough to keep my Pokedex up-to-date anyways. Moreover, I actually think the curry cooking and Gigantamax battles (mainly fat Pikachu, AKA PIKACHONK) look really fun. But for me, the bread and butter of any new mainline Pokemon game is the new Pokemon, and with the exception of Wooloo, who will be in my final party regardless of their battle prowess, the new ones are kind of disappointing.

Sun and Moon might not have been the most memorable entries into the series, but Mimikyu––the ghost Pokemon that hides its terrifying appearance beneath a shoddy, crayon-drawn Pikachu rag because "it thought it would be able to make friends with humans if only it looked like Pikachu"––is arguably the best new Pokemon concept since Gold and Silver.

MimikyuNintendo/ Game Freak

Currently, Sword and Shield seems to fall short in comparison. Like, what the heck is wrong with Morpeko, and why does it look like a derpy Pikachu that fell into a mud puddle?

MorpekoNintendo/ Game Freak

This is a real shame because, as it turns out, Game Freak has had a few really great unused concept monsters in their pocket for over two decades. In 2018, a leaked ROM of a 1997 demo for Pokemon Gold and Silver revealed a whole slew of scrapped Pokemon. And while some of them later appeared with updated designs, a few––and maybe even the best of them––were ultimately forgotten.

Beta PokemonNintendo/ Game Freak

Thankfully, a Twitter account called "Dr. Lava's Lost Pokemon" has spent the past year faithfully hunting down and documenting info on the lost Pokemon species. It's a bit of a double-edged sword though, because now we know what we're missing.

One painful loss is an evolution chain of electric tiger Pokemon consisting of Kotora, Raitora, and an unnamed third evolution that received a back sprite but not an official frontal animation. As such, Pokemon researchers can only guess what might have been, but we still mourn for this cute little thickboi.

Another major loss is Wolfman and its evolved form, Warwolf, a lost Pokemon chain that seems to depict a strange monster wearing a werewolf costume. One could easily imagine an alternate universe wherein Warwolf plushies flood the Nintendo Store every Halloween.

Even more unfortunate, the Warwolf concept might have actually been translated into Swinub and Piloswine, who kind of suck.

But no loss feels quite as brutal as that of the Ditto evolution, Animon––a Pokemon that literally look like a screaming condom. Oh, what a world we could have lived in.

Of course, not every change was bad. The original designs for the Legendary Dogs were a lot less cool than the final versions.

All things considered, Entei, Raikou, and Suicune look a lot more powerful than En, Rai, and Sui.

Legendary DogsNintendo/ Game Freak

Similarly, the first Pichu design looks insanely doofy, and actually not that far off from Morpeko—which actually explains a lot.

Then again, why would they remove Turban, the shell Pokemon that clearly lives on Slowbro's tail (in spite of the fact that the game officially refers to it as a Shellder, which it so obviously is not).

Mainly though, we'd like to see Nintendo and Game Freak bring back Animon. Until the new games give us a proper condom Pokemon, the franchise will never truly be whole.