This year at E3, Game Freak announced that Pokemon Sword and Shield would be breaking series tradition and not allow for all Pokemon from previous generations to be transferred to the new games. Although this news initially distressed fans, a following interview with Pokemon producer Junichi Masuda abated concerns about the games’ new direction.
Masuda explained that the decision to cut Pokemon came down to keeping everything balanced and giving all the Pokemon that appear in the games a chance to shine. Fans initially believed this would mean only including Pokemon of about the same strength. However, Game Freak has subsequently revealed that the Pokedex will include Pokemon ranging in strength from pseudo legendaries, like Tyranitar and Hydreigon, to previously weak fodder, such as Noctowl and Butterfree, indicating that Game Freak plans on completely rebalancing the game from the ground up.
“For generations Game Freak has introduced progressively stronger Pokemon into the game while leaving the old ones at the same strength, but with their new focus on balance Game Freak seems to be indicating plans to alter the stats and abilities of practically every Pokemon in the game.” one Smogon community member commented. “I mean, just from the currently revealed Pokedex we can infer that the developers are planning to make Gyarados just as competitively viable as Seaking. That’s going to be a ton of work and require a bunch of mechanical changes, much more difficult that simply importing in all the Gen 6 models again and calling it a day.”
Fans were also intrigued by Masuda’s statements that Game Freak would be focusing on higher fidelity and higher quality animations. Game Freak released an E3 demo of Sword and Shield which has similar animation quality to the previous two generations, but fans have assumed that the developers are hard at work creating specialized attack animations for each of the Pokemon in the now smaller Pokedex. Fans were particularly curious to see how Generation 8’s newest feature, Dynamaxing, will have higher animation quality than the specific models and animations of the now cut Mega Evolutions and Z Moves, given that Dynamaxing currently appears to be just making the normal Pokemon models bigger.
Masuda stated that the team evaluated the best selection of Pokemon that appeal to the widest audience of fans, as evidenced by the inclusion of classic beloved Pokemon such as Garbodor and Vanilluxe. In fact, Masuda is confident that the cut Pokemon will not be missed.
“Pokemon has never been about finding that one special, obscure Pokemon out of hundreds and forming an emotional bond with it that can stretch over 10 years and several different consoles. Going forward, we will focus exclusively on the classic key appeals of Pokemon: challenging gameplay, fair balance between every available Pokemon, the highest possible quality graphics, and new designs for porn fanart.”