Game Freak talks Pokemon Sword and Shield development struggles


‘It might be surprising to hear that every Pokemon title is made in an entirely different way’

Pokemon Sword and Shield was one of the most contentious generations yet in the series. I remember the moment when it was confirmed at E3 that the entire Pokedex wouldn’t make it in, and the calm before the storm. I can vividly recall the explosion that happened afterward and basically hasn’t let up. In a new surprise blog over on Game Freak’s recruitment website, the team talks Pokemon struggles and triumphs, specifically how it relates to the development of Pokemon Sword and Shield (as translated by Nintendo Everything).

The blog was shared by Shigeru Omori (director) and Kazumasa Iwao (planning director), who talk about various facets of the creation of the game. According to them, concept work began on Sword and Shield in the fall of 2016, spurred by the idea of the Switch being a portable console, with a “larger scope.”

Iwao notes that instructing a younger generation was more paramount with Sword and Shield, which led to some “struggles” with passing the torch. He mentions a “lack of knowledge and experience” that would impact development, but is overall positive with how things turned out in the end. Omori muses how he was given that same chance with Diamond and Pearl at the age of 25. Omori mentions that the game’s clothing design was inspired by the choices of said younger staff, and how the pitching process was more collaborative as a result.

As someone who has been there near the launch of every Pokemon game, this quote really sticks out at me: “It might be surprising to hear that every Pokemon title is made in an entirely different way.”

Well, yes and no! Some games, it’s not a shock at all, in the sense that a few of them are so similar that they barely iterate upon one another, so developmental Pokemon struggles make sense. Several others: yes, it does feel like there was a completely different team working on it. Omori also mentions that “the organization often changes with every game title, which is another thing that makes Game Freak so unique.” It’s probably both their greatest strength and their greatest weakness, in that such a big series can often ride the line of inconsistency.

Such is the world of Pokemon. And in the meantime, they’ll all sell upwards of 10 million copies.