Pokémon Sword & Shield lacked challenging battles, but they remain a hallmark of the franchise. Here are some of the series’ best.

Despite being the franchise’s best-selling game of the last 20 years, Pokémon Sword & Shield disappointed many long-time fans. Although there were many reasons for the disappointment, including a reduced Pokédex number and poor graphics, one of the most common complaints was that the games were just too easy. For many, this was a particularly disappointing issue, as the core Pokémon games used to give a legitimate challenge.

Pokémon games are known for their battles, and Sword & Shield misses the mark in this department. Because of the EXP candies in the game and the extra-large EXP share, the player’s party would almost always be over-leveled. Players are left with nothing but a slew of forgettable and easy battles to sleepwalk through when this is combined with the fact many gym leaders start with small and underwhelming teams.

In a Pokémon game, the importance of difficulty is vastly underestimated. When confronted with a challenging opponent that necessitates strategy and trial and error, the player can connect with their virtual team. Being able to barely get over a formidable opponent when the player’s starter Pokémon could secure a critical hit at precisely the right time helps a player appreciate the Pokémon even more. These tense moments make a memorable Pokémon adventure, and they were largely absent from Sword & Shield. Here are some of the most memorable Pokémon fights in the franchise’s history.

Pokémon Gold & Silver – Battle With Red

Pokémon Gold & Silver - Battle With Red

Climbing to the top of Mt. Silver at the end of Pokémon: Gold & Silver and being greeted by the main character from the first game was a surprise to no one in 1999. Red, as he was known in-game, had a solid team. At level 77, all three Kanto starters were active, and offensive powerhouses Snorlax and Espeon meant the player would have difficulty if they were not prepared. Red’s signature Pikachu was clearly the team’s primary weakness, but it was still a pleasant addition for the fans.

Battle With Wally in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire

Battle With Wally in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire Yehiweb

Wally is the second rival in Pokémon: Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, who the player encounters many times, but he is not a challenge until the final battle at the Battle Maison. This time, Wally is well-prepared when the majority of his team is at level 79. With heavy hitters of the water, heat, and grass variety in Azumarill, Talonflame, and Roserade, his team has excellent type coverage. As a level 81 Gallade, the Ralts that the player assisted him in catching early in the adventure have evolved into a wrecking ball of a Pokémon. This battle is challenging enough on its own, but the games take it a step further by allowing Wally’s team to become ever more potent by other competitions.

Cynthia’s Battle in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl

Cynthia’s Battle in Pokémon Diamond & Pearl Yehiweb

Cynthia, the Sinnoh region’s champion, is generally regarded as the most formidable champion in the Pokémon franchise. Her team is remarkably diverse, with outstanding type coverage and few common weaknesses. She had Spiritomb, one of the few Pokémon in the series without liability, and Garchomp and Lucario, two of the hardest-hitting and rarest Pokémon in the Sinnoh region.

Cynthia posed such a challenge in Pokemon: Diamond & Pearl that her entire team had to be leveled down in the Platinum version.

Battle With Ultra Necrozma in Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon

Battle With Ultra Necrozma in Pokémon Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon Yehiweb

In Ultra Sun & Moon, the Ultra Necrozma battle is the series’ most challenging single Pokémon battle. This fearsome creature is not only level 60 when encountered, but its aura also boosts all of its stats. Although some can see this as a negative, many players applaud the battle for pushing them to think carefully rather than simply hammering their best moves as they would in other wild Pokémon encounters. This is definitely a battle in which Pokémon players would need a lot of Revives and Hyper Potions.