The upcoming Nintendo Switch exclusive Pokémon games Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are clearly taking several steps to be more accessible like Pokémon GO in both presentation and gameplay. This was something I pointed out in my own preview of the game from E3 2018, as I came to the conclusion that these were “simple and accessible Pokémon games that will be a good starting point for those introduced to the series through Pokémon GO.”
Apparently, I was pretty spot on as Game Freak’s Executive Director and Head of Game Development Junichi Masuda reflected these same sentiments in a recent interview with Eurogamer. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! are being poised as welcoming child-friendly entrance points to the World of Pokémon through remakes of the Generation I games. It also just so happened that this fell in line with the series’ 20th anniversary:
“So actually it was more that one of the main targets of these games is kids, who haven’t had the opportunity to play Pokémon Go, because you know, they don’t have a smartphone, and we thought that amongst all of the previous Pokémon games up until now, the one that’s the most relatable to kids like this would be Pokémon Yellow.
So you have Pikachu of course as a main feature in these games, and you have Team Rocket, who appears a lot in the anime as well…we thought that Pokémon Yellow would be kind of the easiest for everyone to relate to, everyone to understand, and then actually we only noticed afterwards that it would be the 20th anniversary of the release of the games, so we thought ‘Ah great! That lines up very nicely.’”
This led to Junichi Masuda also discussing the game’s graphical style, which looks like a slightly more polished version of the graphics featured in Pokémon X and Y. He described Kanto as a warm, summer-like region, and re-enforced the fact that the developers “didn’t want to make it in any way a scary game.” Ultimately though, Game Freak is trying to craft a game that will keep children invested in a time of simpler, easily accessible mobile games:
“So when we tried to think about how kids these days generally play games, what came to mind was mobile games really. Games which you play for a short time, and perhaps you’ll be moving between various games pretty quickly, so if it was a game that kind of takes about two hours to get into, we thought that perhaps people might get a bit bored and then decide to move on to a different game.
So back in the day, even playing in the virtual console version of the original Pikachu version, it might take you know thirty hours, forty hours to kind of complete, or progress significantly in the game. And in this age with so many games to choose from, we thought that we’d rather make something that was easier to progress through, and kind of tailor that playstyle to how we think that the playstyle has evolved over the years and how children are playing games now.”
While these developer sentiments may be a bit worrying to the older and hardcore Pokémon fans, Junichi Masuda and Designer Kensaku Nabana did touch on the fact that Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! will still feature some more in-depth mechanics like catch combos and post-game master trainers:
Junichi Masuda: “So you know to those kinds of fans we’d mention the ‘catch combo’ mechanic, whereby you catch the same Pokémon multiple times in a row and get various rewards and benefits for that.”
Kensaku Nabana: “And also the postgame content as well, in particular the master trainiers – so these are trainers who are kind of the ultimate trainers of a specific Pokémon, so you will challenge them. So you will challenge them, and then get their title for that Pokémon, so you become the master of that Pokémon if you manage to beat them in battle.”
Junichi Masuda: “So for me, my favorite Pokémon is Psyduck, so I’d be training my Psyduck amazingly and then would challenge the Psyduck Master, and then gain the Psyduck Master title, and that’s something you can put a lot of effort and a lot of time into, if I really wanted to create a challenge for myself – and these Master Trainers exist for all of the 151 Pokémon in the game, so you know, if you want to collect all of the titles then that’s something you can really challenge yourself with.”
Ultimately, while some series veterans might come away disappointed, the developers are clearly setting up Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! as accessible titles to onboard new children the Pokémon GO crowd to the series before Generation VIII hits.
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