We are seeing numerous reports that Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield have a major bug- causing microSD cards inserted into the Nintendo Switch to become corrupted due to the game’s auto-save feature.
The digital eShop version of the game is reportedly crashing in some instances when attempting to autosave. When the Nintendo Switch reboots, the microSD card then needs to be formatted (i.e. all data wiped) to be usable.
It should be noted save data is stored on the Nintendo Switch itself, while the microSD card is used for game installs, screenshots, and videos. However in this video the Japanese user seems to have no data for the affected games on either his Nintendo Switch or the microSD card. The live streamer stated “Since I sent an error message to Nintendo, I think there are quite a few error reports going to Pokémon headquarters.”
However we are also seeing conflicting reports, with users claiming the crashes can occur other than when the game auto-saves. Others have made claims that if the game is installed on the Nintendo Switch hardware itself, it will corrupt the console’s memory- wiping save data and even bricking the console. Some even claim the issue is occurring with the physical version of the game.
We must emphasize that the claims of the microSD card being corrupted are the more prevalent ones, and that false information may circulate due to many fans being upset with several of the game’s issues.
It was announced soon after the game’s announcement that not all Pokemon would be in the game, preventing them from being transferred. While producer Junichi Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori stated this was to dedicate more time to animations and other areas of development, fans were critical of trailer and now released gameplay footage showing no marked improvement over the previous 3DS entry in the series, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
Fans were outraged when the news was first announced, pushing both “Dexit” and “BringBackNationalDex” hashtags on social media. New footage of the game’s and leaks only fueled their frustrations that the graphics and animations had little to no marked improvement. Some suspect the outrage reaching fever-pitch from leaked information was why the Japanese launch event was cancelled.
The issue may be related to Nintendo Switch exFat drivers interacting with microSD cards using exFat file management, though corruption in those issues most commonly occurs when pirates are attempting to make the Nintendo Switch run unlicensed or pirated software, and occasionally even with legitimate use (1, 2, 3. Editor’s Note: Niche Gamer does not condone or support piracy). Others seem to have known of the issue for quite some time.
The exFat file management system allows storage of up to 2TB, while Fat 32 can only store up to a maximum of 4GB. On the technical side, it is claimed that due to Nintendo’s exFat driver losing handles of data, it then cannot recover said data (essentially putting it in the wrong place and not having the means to pull it out of there).
“The bug is in Nintendo’s exfat driver. It constantly changes folders/files even on reads. And because it never syncs properly, on a hang/force quit/force reboot/power off, the handles are lost and the files/folders become missing from the file allocation table. Because exFAT does not have a 2nd FAT like fat32, these file/folders cannot be recovered.”
Curiously, we have heard reports that the issue has not affected those who have allegedly pirated the game prior to the game’s official launch- though we cannot verify if the user did pirate the game (as oppose to a physical store breaking the street date), or if the user turned off autosaves.
While we have been playing the game as part of our upcoming review, we have not run across this issue ourselves (we have seen the game autosave once with no issue). However, due to how wide-spread cases are being reported from both outlets and social media, we are taking more stock in its credibility.
We highly recommend all readers who currently have or plan to buy the games to turn off the autosave feature. We also recommend users utilize microSD cards of 4GB or smaller and/or utilize Fat 32 instead of exFat.
We have reached out to Nintendo for comment. You can expect our thorough review soon.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield are out now on Nintendo Switch.