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I love watching my Pokémon bicker in Sword and Shield

Settle down, now

A fox-type Pokemon looks at the screen. Game Freak via Tim Engel

So there I was, throwing a ball for my pup Yamper in Pokémon Sword and Shield’s camping mini-game, when I notice something in the background. Two of my babies aren’t having a good time. Actually, my Pokémon are throwing hands at each other. Not at an enemy, not at my rival. Each other.


Those of us who have pets already know that sometimes our companions don’t always get along with each other. I’ve got a kitten and he’s always picking a fight with my grown calico cat, who prefers a nice, quiet time over a wrestling session. They’ve got different personalities, and while they make peace most of the time, every so often, there’s a real clash.

Pokémon games are great at highlighting the nice parts of owning a pet — the more time you spend with a critter, the more friendship you’ll develop, and the harder they’ll try in battle. I’m not used to Pokémon highlighting the messy, ugly part of pet ownership, though.

Sometimes, you have a pet pal who is a jerk. Once I owned a dog who, without fail, would get into a fight with a dog ten times its size at the park nearly every time I brought him out. I loved him to death, of course, but I’d be lying if I said the doggo had a good personality.

That’s life! It’s normal. I just wasn’t expecting to see it in a Pokémon game. Most people weren’t, it seems like, judging from the number of viral posts about pals duking it out amongst themselves.

Curiously, Sword and Shield don’t just capture the bickering.

Sometimes some of your pals will be better in certain areas than others. I have to be careful when I’m playing with my cats, because the kitten is more of an athlete and will easily overtake whatever toy I’m offering while my calico is left in the dust. This happens in the new Pokémon games, too! Some popular clips show a player throwing a ball for one buddy, only to have someone else entirely pick the toy up. It’s hilarious.

Speaking to my followers on Twitter, it became clear that these aren’t random happenings. Pokémon seem to be coded to have specific personalities that will come up during camp time. Scorbunny, for example, are notorious for whizzing around and stealing everyone else’s balls — which makes sense, because they’re a speedy creature.

Some fans I spoke to outright have problem children, or critters who are having a tough time meshing with the overall team.

“None of my Pokémon seem to understand each other, and I don’t know what to do,” Sarah Wieland said on Twitter.

“My Pokémon all shun Pikachu, and he’s too shy to play or make friends,” Beth Dunston said on Twitter. “He’s me in sixth grade, basically,” she added.

“My Toxtricity keeps arguing with EVERYONE!” said Twitter user William Antonelli. “He’ll be having a wonderful conversation, then get mad and hit them!”

Some Pokémon will reveal how they feel about other teammates while you’re having a chat in camp mode.

Camp isn’t just a place where Pokémon stop playing nice and start acting real, though. Sometimes, Pokémon can become pals!

“My Toxel spent a solid 10 [minutes] copying everything my Drizzile did and getting real excited about it,” said Twitter user Raven Edwards.

But even friendly interactions can lead to funny moments.

“I had a Pancham for a while that insisted on a footrace with anyone who would listen, even though he lost every single one,” said Twitter user Shafe Vaughn Williams. “Poor guy would lose to Stunfisk if I gave him the chance.”

When your Pokémon get in a fight in camp, you’re given the option to break it up. Call me chaotic, but I like to just let it happen. Partially, it’s morbid curiosity — who will win? What’s going to happen next? Why does everyone hate my Combee!? But mostly, I love the realistic reminder that capturing Pokémon under the same banner doesn’t guarantee everyone will be BFFs.