Masuda himself states that fresh blood is probably needed for the Pokemon franchise.
While Satoshi Tajiri is probably the most important person to the Pokemon franchise for having created it, I think no one will dispute that Junichi Masuda is by far the next person in line for that title. Masuda’s contributions to the franchise are legendary—he was co-director for Pokemon Gold/Silver, headed development on Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire, FireRed/LeafGreen, Diamond/Pearl, Black/White, X/Y, and is also directing the upcoming Pokemon Let’s Go games.
And these will probably be his last games as director. Speaking in an interview posted directly on Pokemon.com, Masuda stated that while he wanted to return to the director’s seat one last time with Let’s Go for a multitude of factors, he doesn’t see himself coming back after this round.
“I was the one who worked on the base game concept document for Pokémon GO, and even in that original concept, I had the idea of introducing new Pokémon through the mobile game,” he said. “I wanted to realize that goal by creating games that could connect with Pokémon GO and feel somewhat similar to it without feeling like we were copying it. Given my involvement in Pokémon GO‘s development, I felt that I was probably the best person to direct these games.
He also wanted to go hands on with the Nintendo Switch hardware at least once, he reveals.
“It was also interesting to work with Nintendo Switch. There’s a lot of technology packed into the hardware that we were all trying to discover at Game Freak For example, developing the Poké Ball Plus and working with Bluetooth to facilitate the connection with Pokémon GO were both very interesting things that I had a chance to work on as the director this time. But at the same time, it’s important to have the younger generation at Game Freak take over the development of Pokémon as a series. I do believe this will probably be, in terms of the main Pokémon RPGs, the last time that I work as the director.”
While Masuda’s last few games are a bit controversial among the Pokemon fanbase, his contributions to the series are immense, and it’s undeniable that his tenure at its head was the reason the franchise continued to maintain its popularity for the bulk of the last two decades. That said, he himself points out that fresh blood is needed, and if nothing else, I’d say he has earned himself a bit of a break.
Pokemon Let’s Go comes out exclusively for Nintendo Switch on November 16. You should check out the Halloween special trailer for it, which gives us a look at Lavender Town.