Pokémon Sword and Shield Locks Manual Audio Sliders Behind Unlockable Earbuds

Pokémon Sword and Shield seems to be locking manual audio sliders behind obtainable "earbuds" that can only be obtained later in the game.

November 18, 2019

The article has had a small update below regarding the location of the earbuds thanks to the knowledge of our readers.

Pokémon Sword and Shield came out last week, giving fans the weekend to jump into the idyllic British-inspired setting. While the build-up to launch found Game Freak wading through the controversy surrounding the leaked character models, it seems there’s a new and odd annoyance that has been discovered within the game.

No, this isn’t more angry gamers ranting about shadow rendering and draw distances, this is something related to accessibility, and quite frankly, a mind-boggling option.

Nikki ‘Gazelle’ Crenshaw on Twitter put forward the below tweet to her followers, asking what their thoughts were on the “Hi-tech Earbuds” that are available in Sword and Shield. This obtainable in-game item rather peculiarly unlocks the ability to adjust the volume controls.

Rather than, like nearly every other game in existence, offer the player the ability to adjust the volume levels manually from an options screen, Sword and Shield seem to require you to earn that option.

The items description explains, “Strange earbuds that allow you to freely control the volume of various sounds. Crenshaw does elaborate, explaining that these sounds are for music, sound effects, Pokémon cries, etc.

To make it even weirder, these earbuds are obtained by a random NPC that you meet fairly far into Pokémon Sword and Shield and can be easily overlooked. You don’t even need to talk to the character which means you can go the entire game without being allowed to adjust audio options.

So why is this weird and irritating for a lot of players? For accessibility reasons. The adjustment of volume options isn’t simply put into games so you don’t have to reach for the remote and turn the TV down. They’re also there so people with disabilities that may require the volume to be turned down or to bring attention to specific sounds without being distracted. Such as deafness, misophonia, autism, and more.

Accessibility specialist, Ian Hamilton has made efforts to reach out to Junichi Masuda asking for this to be fixed.

I’ve seen a few people arguing that you can just adjust the volume of the game through the Switch alone, but this only controls the master volume. Someone on Twitter commented, “I had problems with the first few towns’ music getting way too harsh for my brain too [sic] handle listening to it over and over.”

Nikki states that she found this NPC randomly outside of a shop roughly 5 hours into her game. So if you’re wanting to grab the Hi-tech Earbuds that’s where to keep your eyes peeled.

Update: Thanks to our wonderful readers, it has been noted that these earbuds can be found earlier on in the game, particularly in the town where you start the arena challenge. The earbuds can be found on the right side of the elevator by the music store. Of course, this still doesn’t make it any better that the options are hidden away and not available from the start.

Game Freak hasn’t commented on the weird feature yet but people are talking and raising concerns about the choice to lock manual volume sliders behind an obtainable item.

Pokémon Sword and Shield is available on the Nintendo Switch.

Ben Bayliss

Based in the UK and adores venturing through FPS horrors and taking photos in pretty much anything with a functioning photo mode. Also likes car games.

Read more of Ben's articles

Got a tip?

Let us know