What I said was mostly me giving my general perspective on the situation, but sure I can provide a list of why I think that way.
Here’s a possible list of strengths in no particular order:
- Leon is an absolute boss. Furthermore, he has much more presence than some of the champions from previous generations (Diantha, Alder, and Iris were all laughably underdeveloped; and obviously an avatar-intended character like Alola’s playable character is by nature personality-less). I also genuinely struggled with fights against him sometimes which is more than I can say of ANY Champion since Gold/Silver came out. Which leads me to the next point.
- Contrary to popular opinion, I did not find the game was insultingly easy. There were certainly ways to make it much easier, but in reality the opinion that player choice should not “have to” drive difficulty is flawed (I sometimes hear this point of view about these games’ approach to difficulty). Not every game needs to be dark souls from the gate, and if you can have a hard time if you don’t take leveling seriously, I see that as a sign that the difficulty level is not inherently bad. Player induced handicap options are only a sign of poor difficulty design when the last sentence I said is not true. As I played with my son and tried to hurry through some days, I ended up struggling if I neglected training. That is not a sign of a “baby difficulty game”.
Again, I actually struggled with Leon sometimes, and despite keeping up with leveling. Even taking into account my earlier comment about Gold/Silver, in retrospect that game was only hard when I was 10. Later playthroughs saw me breeze past Lance in the blink of an eye, and even Red was not that hard.
- Pokémon designs for gen 8 are fine, actually. Some are very creative (like the Dreepy and Applin lines, but not exclusively; I like lots of others). The idea that Pokémon has been on a decline in creative design has always been a tenuous assertion (you can not like the designs, fine; it’s the outright claim they all lack creativity of “the olden days” which is just silly). Do people REALLY think a pile of sludge is better than a trash Pokémon, or whatever, for example? Sorry but this idea is just not as strong as people want to believe.
- The music was also pretty good, overall. I found a few actually memorable, most others at least ambient, and really that’s the most video game songs NEED to be. Not everything needs the weight of the Zelda theme or almost anything Nobuo Uematsu puts out.
- Dynamaxing is cool, sorry. Kaiju Pokémon is a great idea. They did a good job with Gigantamax forms, especially. And they loop it in pretty well to the lore of the game. Can it be better? Sure. Does it replace Megas? No. But is it a sign of “laziness” or any more gimmicky than most other Pokémon features? Absolutely not.
-Also, has it really never bothered anyone that the very idea of Gyms and Badges was NEVER explained in any meaningful way before Galar? This time there is a reason for it, and not just a believable one, I daresay a GOOD one. Treating Pokémon battles like soccer/football is perfect.
-The first “evil” team also plays into this soccer idea, and guess what? They’re not just one-dimensional idiots like every team but Team Rocket and the Aether Foundation. There is an actual point to their annoying antics (stupid as most of the people in this team may arguably still be) beyond the Saturday morning cartoon villain excuse. And that the “leader” is not actually that kind of one-dimensional villain type just adds to the unexpectedly good idea for this game.
-Further to the above point, there is genuine character development in this game, contrary to the apparent popular claim. Piers, Marnie, Bede, even Hop (yea I said it) all have real arcs. Are they “mature and deep”? No. Could they have done more with this? Sure. But it’s a far cry from the lazy/non-existent perspective I so often hear.
-Also, Chairman Rose may be a flawed villain in terms of execution, but I really do think his general situation and philosophy can work. I liked both him and Oleana a lot. Again, the execution was definitely lacking in certain important ways, but it’s not for lack of general creativity. Perhaps they ran out of time with this part, and I don’t feel how it turned out was game breaking, so I am willing to forgive it. This piece is the most conflicted bit of the game for me: Rose/Oleana had a lot of potential, IMO, and I do wish the part between battling Hop and then battling Eternatus was better executed. But it’s not really awful, either...
-Interestingly, on multiple replays the post-game bit has grown on me. Rushed, sure, but again in terms of the world-building the two “celebrities” surprisingly work, and completing Hop’s arc through it was actually quite well done, IMO.
-The DLC was also good, I really liked both bonus places and all they offered.
Feel free to agree or disagree with any of the above; this isn’t intended to be viewed as an attempt at an infallible defence. My main point is that the assertion that there is nothing good about these games and they represent everything wrong with modern Pokémon is no less an opinion than that they are fine. For anyone to ultimately act like the base view should be that these games are bad and the opposite view must be vigorously well outlined and defended or be rendered unacceptable or something is unfair and silly. That may not be everyone’s intent but with the sheer animosity I can see towards these games, it sure feels like that’s what is being said. People are free to like and dislike whatever they want, and games can be flawed but still have silver linings.
At the end of the day, I have no problem with people wanting more, even better, from Pokémon. I can even personally think of good counter-arguments that demonstrate things that are NOT good about Sword and Shield. But I really am sick of the “Pokémon is DEAD” or TPC/Game Freak are particularly bad at making games now narrative. I just do not agree with that.