The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind for Pokémon Sword and Shield news, with the substantial reveal in the Pokémon Direct followed up by a look at another Gym battle, this one Water-focused, and then some more gameplay of the open-world Wild Area in the Nintendo Treehouse straight after.
On top of all that, we've just played it - and there are two brand spanking new Pokémon in there that are yet to be detailed.
The first is Yamper, an Electric-type Pokémon that very much resembles a corgi (you know, the breed of dog favoured by the Queen). It's not the toughest in the world but tries its best. The one in our demo, where all Pokémon were automatically set to level 50, knew the moves Play Rough, Spark, Crunch and Wild Charge. Unfortunately we couldn't get much more of a look at it than that as the demo had all of the menus locked off - we could only open our party to inspect it mid-battle, and were keen to get through all of the stuff available in that demo before we ran out of time.
The second we know even less about, as it was one of our opponents' Pokémon in the Gym. This was a seemingly Dark-type, called Impidimp. It's bright pink, looks extremely mischievous, and used Dark-type attacks before we took it out. It was also set to level 50 in the demo but again, that's likely artificially set for the purpose of an even playing field in this very-much-vertical slice.
Anyway, as for what we actually played, we got through a roughly fifteen-minute runthrough of that Water-type gym from the latest Direct, and if you've been longing for a return to the old school brainteasers, you're in luck.
This was more or less an archetypal Gym: on entering you're greeted by the usual chirpy 'Go get 'em Champ!' guy, who'll also heal your Pokémon for you to save a trip outside to the Pokémon Centre. Up ahead, a type-themed room of environmental puzzles. The puzzles here were very much classic Pokémon, too, with the task being to press buttons near big columns of water that blocked the path to switch them on or off.
It's nothing too tricky, obviously, but it does at least sit nicely in that oddly relaxing tier of light problem solving, and it's nice to have this kind of mild puzzling back, especially after getting a refresher of the original Gym obstacles in Let's Go. Given that this Water-type Gym is likely to be one of the earlier ones in the final game, too, there's always hope things will get a little more complex as you get further along.
The battles were pretty easy, as is probably to be expected - one Pokémon each for the three or four Gym trainers we faced along the way, including a Vulpix of all things, in a Water Gym - before the final showdown.
That, as you might already know, happens in a stadium. After solving the water column puzzles you head through a door at the back of the traditional Gym room, give the camera wave, and head through to the fight itself. At this point it's pretty much as-you-were from the E3 Direct clip, with the Gym Leader, Nessa, having two Pokémon and Dynamaxing her second, the Water and Rock-type Dreadnaw.
That, again, wasn't too much of a struggle, but there were a few new things picked up along the way. One of Dreadnaw's Dynamaxed moves does a big chunk of Rock-type damage as well as whipping up a Sandstorm as a secondary effect. We Dynamaxed our Grookey and used its Grass-type, Razor Leaf-replacing Dynamax move which did plenty of damage itself, as well as creating a Grassy arena, in the same way something like a Tapu Koko could electrify the arena in Sun and Moon, which healed both Pokémon by a small amount each turn. It seems Dynamaxed moves are a very similar level of power to Z-moves, if you're familiar.
Once the battle's over it's all standard stuff again - you get a Gym badge, and it goes into a slot in a kind of golden ring, like a piece of a jigsaw making up a whole - and there wasn't any mention of this new system that was referred to as a 'league' in one of the previous reveals, so it's still not clear how that'll shake out.
Much of a muchness then - apart from those new Pokémon. Maybe that's a testament to the series' strength though, because a few new critters and a spot of gentle puzzling - on top of the increasingly charming gameplay footage we've seen so far - and I think I'm already pretty sold.