Game Freak Discusses How It Goes About Developing Two Versions of a Pokemon Game
Prior to the release of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield, Junichi Masuda explains how Game Freak makes two versions of a Pokemon game.
Since Pokemon began, the series has prided itself on having multiple versions of each entry. While this creates a lot of discussion around each pair of releases, it also impacts how Game Freak must go about developing each generation. In a recent interview with Game Informer about Pokemon Sword and Shield, Producer Junichi Masuda explained how Pokemon games are created and when exactly the game’s split during development.
“They obviously share the same underlying systems, so throughout the early part of development, when we’re developing those core systems, it’ll be a single version,” Masuda stated before revealing when the second version of a Pokemon game starts to form. “It’s really when we start getting into more of which Pokémon appear in which game, and kind of the data table stuff, where they split into two different versions where we have to manage both versions…Definitely the latter half of development.” That being said, Game Freak does “always start with two versions in mind” in the conceptual phase, but the developers focus on “building the core systems first and then splitting it up.”
He then shared an interesting anecdote about how the playtesting process for the games can actually be lopsided at first as developers tend to gravitate towards their favorite version. “When we’re test-playing the games internally before we actually go into the formal debug process, people have their favorites for which version. For example, for Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Eevee!, a lot of the team preferred Eevee, and they’d always be playing that, and that would be more polished and in a better state. For the Pikachu version, we had to kind of then make up for lost time later on.”
While he followed up by stressing that each game gets the same amount of time and focus during the debugging process, he does admit that “there’s definitely some internal favoritism that can create some lopsidedness.” Director Shigeru Ohmori says that Pokemon Sword and Shield’s length is “comparable to other Pokémon generations that we’ve played” so hopefully the latest Pokemon games will have the same level of polish as previous generations.
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield will release for Nintendo Switch on November 15, 2019. You can pre-order the games on Amazon.