Put on your boots and pack some tea, because we'll be heading back to Pokemon Sword and Shield's Galar region this Summer. Granted, I don't think too many of us ever left. Sword and Shield came out a mere two months ago, but Game Freak's already throwing back the curtain on expansions.
The expansions, which were revealed during today's Pokemon Direct, will take us to the Isle of Armor (June 2020) and Crown Tundra (fall 2020). We can expect lots of new Pokemon, characters, and content in the expansions, including new Galarian forms for Pokemon previously locked out of the region. I'm already in love with the ground-bound Zapdos variation that's built much like a cassowary. I don't know if Galarian Zapdos is still an Electric-type, but it doesn't need to be; if you get within kicking distance of those thicc drumsticks, your screaming, disembowelled self will wish you got Thundershocked to death.
On the topic of dark Pokemon thoughts, Game Freak mysteriously kept one Galar variant under partial wraps—and it's linked to Galarian Slowpoke, a Pokemon you can download in Sword and Shield today. "Bro" and "King" come after "Poke," and we can expect to see Galarian Slowbro and Slowking follow in Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra respectively. Galarian Slowpoke is strangely unremarkable—it's just a Slowpoke with an inexplicable Wi-Fi signal on its forehead—but Galarian Slowking's face is scribbled out in the concept art that flashes by at the start of the Pokemon Direct presentation. We saw several new Pokemon today, as well as new Galarian forms and Gigantamax forms for old Pokemon. Curiously, only Galarian Slowking is obscured.
So, uh, what's the deal?
There are a couple of immediate possibilities. Galarian Slowking's body isn't obscured, and it appears to have a vampire motif. The "frill" we normally see around Slowking's neck has been lengthened and dyed black, seemingly as a stand-in for a cape. If you peer beyond the scribbles in the concept art, you can catch a glimpse of something that looks like a high collar, too. I don't know much about Galarian Slowking, but it's already clear he's going to be a Dark-type of some kind. (Regular Slowking is a Psychic/Water-type.)
Believe it or not Dracuking would fit with Pokemon Sword and Shield's many tributes to the United Kingdom's history, literature, and culture. Dracula's author, Bram Stoker, was from Ireland. In the tale itself, Drac travels from the Carpathian Mountains with the intent of finding victims in Britain. If Galarian Slowking does indeed slither down from the frosty peaks of Crown Tundra to haunt Galar's lowlands, it'll be emulating Dracula's journey in a way.
Another possible explanation—and a big reason why Game Freak doesn't want us to see Galarian Slowking's face just yet—is the mysterious Pokemon might be a reference to the titular Phantom of the Opera. The 1926 novel, written by French author Gaston Leroux, tells the story of a disfigured boy with a masked face who haunts Paris' Palais Garnier opera house. The novel is a literary classic, but most of us are far more familiar with the Phantom of the Opera musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webber, who was knighted in 1992, is as British as tinned beans.
Whether it's based on Dracula, the Phantom, or some other monster entirely, Galarian Slowking will probably seem a little frightening when it shows its mysterious face. Stow your fear. Remember: You looked into the yellow hell-lamps that are lit behind Galarian Meowth's eyes, and you hung onto your sanity. You're more than ready to stake Slowking through its black heart if you have to.
If you're still working through Pokemon Sword and Shield, check out our TM location guide. It's guaranteed vampire-free. For now.