The announcement for the next generation of Pokémon games — Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield — revealed the super-duper cute starters, as well as the new region. Each Pokémon region reflects a real-life setting — where in the (real) world could this new one be based on?
Called Galar, the eighth-gen Pokémon region is “filled with idyllic countryside and contemporary cities—vast plains and snow-covered mountains,” according to the Pokémon Company. The gameplay footage showed off the pastoral countryside, along with a few more industrial areas, full of steampunk-reminiscent cogs, bolts, and railroads.
In #PokemonSwordShield, you’ll explore the expansive Galar region, which is filled with idyllic countryside and contemporary cities—vast plains and snow-covered mountains. ⚔ pic.twitter.com/ECtjU6K8kp
This juxtaposition of the countryside and the very Industrial Revolution-like aesthetic of the cityscapes, combined with the overall shape of the map, have many fans speculating that the Galar region is based on the United Kingdom.
Pokémon regions historically reflect real-life locations. Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh are all based on regions in Japan (the IRL Kanto, Kansai, Kyūshū, and Hokkaido, respectively). Unova, meanwhile, is based on the United States, with a particular focus on New York City, Kalos on France, and Alola on Hawaii. The Sword and Shield motifs (very Knights of the Round Table) would work perfectly with a U.K.-inspired setting. The appearance of coal mines, the abundant cottages, and the plaid accents on the player characters’ outfits all add to this theory.
Looking closer at the map, you can spot that the Galar region’s northernmost city has a wee little clocktower (the Big Ben!), a ferris wheel (the London Eye!), and a large spire (the Shard!). There’s even a dome-like building, which looks like London’s City Hall.
Now, in real life, London is in the south of the United Kingdom, not nestled in the north among mountains. But some fans have pointed out that it looks like a flipped map of the U.K. (And also, it’s a Pokémon game, not real life — Unova had mountains in Astoria, Queens!)
The Galar region is Britain!! South is at the top! pic.twitter.com/ZFBWDemHRP
In addition to highlighting the similarly shaped landmass, the trailer showed specific Galar landmarks that have real-life British equivalents. A tall tower seen in the teaser bears resemblance to university towns in England (like Oxford), and the cryptic drawings in the hills resemble ones in Dorset.
Note the similarities between this hillside image in Sword and Shield and the famous Cerne Abbas giant. pic.twitter.com/iD9AOnOA9n
It’s not just the landscapes that are similar. Even the characters’ clothing just reek of the U.K.
So one thing I really love about the Sword and Shield trailer is that the new Lass equivalent has a short tie, like basically every british teenager in a school uniform circa the mid 2000’s
That’s how you *really* know this one’s inspired by the UK pic.twitter.com/kbKvJ8mhCl
Since Pokémon X and Y’s Kalos was based on France, some hope for a post-game trip to the potentially neighboring region, not unlike how Gold and Silver ended with returns to Kanto. Time to ride through the Pokémon Chunnel?
ARE WE TAKING THE TRAIN TO KALOS THO?? THOSE ARE TRAIN TRACKS!!!! pic.twitter.com/6FNS9NBwwx
Of course, this speculation has generated its own share of goofs and memes about what a possible U.K.-inspired setting means for the Pokémon world.
1776: When the Unova Region won its independence from the Galar Region.
>Go to Galar Region
>My pokedex is set to Unova’s timezone
>Ask someone what the time is
>TOYME? WHAT’S THAT?
>Notice no one in Galar has a pokedex
>Big Ben starts to chime
>Everyone stops to count the bongs on their fingers
>Man crashes Gogoat trying to count them
>OI ITS 7 BONG
“Welcome to the Galar region, where only you can stop the nefarious Team Leave from carrying out their chaotic Galaxit plan” pic.twitter.com/o8qwIjh8ST
Pokémon Sword and Shield are set to launch in late 2019 on Nintendo Switch.