Obviously, it was a proposition that was met with a lot of resistance.
With the true Pokemon 8 that people have been waiting for since its announcement last year due out next year, this year’s Pokemon Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee! should have just been a nice filler game, a comfy throwback to the series’ early days, and an attempt at simplifying the admittedly bloated nature of the recent games.
However, it’s been met with a lot of pushback from fans— an almost surprising amount. And most of the skepticism and fan outcry is over one decision, which probably epitomizes what they feel is wrong with the new game better than anything else— the decision to remove wild Pokemon battles, a mainstay of the series, and replace them with a Pokemon GO style catching mini game.
Speaking to Polygon, director Junichi Masada spoke about the team wanting to do something new and different, and the resistance that the idea faced, even internally.
“What I mean by that being like a challenge, because we’re a business now with Pokémon being so huge, being able to just rewind is difficult, because a lot of the people who are now on the team, they also grew up with Pokémon,” he said. “They have an idea of what Pokémon is supposed to be. They’ve played these games, they’ve enjoyed them themselves. Just taking for example, on Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, even the idea of getting rid of wild Pokémon battles and trying something different was obviously met with a lot of resistance at first.
“People were just like, “No. Of course. It’s Pokémon, there’s wild battles. That’s how it is.” There’s a lot of these unspoken rules that people feel [can’t change], but at the same time at Game Freak, we always want to be open to trying new things. If someone has a good idea or wants to try something out, we want to be able to actually do that. That’s just always a challenge that comes up with each project, just making sure that we don’t take anything for granted.
“It’s always just, “What do we want to do with this project? What do we want to try out this time?” We really just discuss it with the team and game and find out what the best direction is for that game. One thing I’m always saying at the beginning of a project, you’re always telling the team is when you’re making a new Pokémon, don’t make Pokémon from Pokémon. Make Pokémon from scratch. What would you do if it wasn’t a Pokémon game? How would you make the game? Always be in that mindset, is what I’m always trying to tell the team.”
For a series as formulaic as Pokemon, I can’t begrudge the team trying to do something different, if nothing else. That said, I’m not sure if different is necessarily for the better in this case. Pokemon Let’s Go looks like a cute game, and I am sure to enjoy it for what it is when it comes out later this year; but I sincerely hope that when Pokemon 8 launches next year, there are very few cues that it ends up taking from it.