Game Freak has been cranking out smash hit Pokémon games for over 20 years, and the series has had to continue to evolve alongside new tech. Each generation presents its own unique challenges, but according to Tsunekazu Ishihara, President and CEO of The Pokémon Company, developing for Switch is the most complicated task yet.
You might think that revelation reflects poorly on Switch, but really it’s quite the opposite. Developing for Switch isn’t hard because of limitations, but rather because of options. Because the hybrid device can be played in so many ways and with so many control styles, Game Freak has to keep a much wider variety of play scenarios in mind to make sure the gameplay works well in any circumstance.
“The main entries in the Pokémon game series have always been on handheld systems – from the Game Boy all the way to the 3DS. For this next entry, the Nintendo Switch has a variety of playstyles. While you can still play in handheld mode, you now have the option of playing on a bigger TV screen while in docked mode. Given this new hardware, I’ve found it harder to make a new mainline Pokémon game than I had originally thought. Even as a Pokemon game on the Switch, does it still work? Is it possible for me to make all of those playstyles interesting? I think it’s probably about five times harder than any of you could imagine! (laughs)” — Tsunekazu Ishihara
Ishihara believes developing Pokémon for Switch to be “five times harder than any of you could imagine,” which should give you an idea of how seriously they take this task of accommodating all play styles. So what should we expect from the upcoming 2019 releases? Ishihara has previously teased that the upcoming games will “evolve” and “succeed the traditions” of past games. It’s a tough task, but with 20 years of experience, I’d wager that The Pokémon Company is more than up to it.