Pokemon Sword and Shield
Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield logos

In a recent interview with the Japanese video games magazine Famitsu, Game Freaks Junichi Masuda and Hitoshi Omori talked about new models in Pokemon Sword and Shield, Pokemon Home and several other decisions that they had taken with the development of the new games. A redditor called peteykun translated the interview into English and shared it publicly. We’re sharing the interview in full with a TLDR version added on the top of the article.

TLDR version

  • The Galar region will feature a limited National Pokedex because balancing and improving the graphically quality of more than 1000 Pokémon and Pokémon forms is not feasible
  • Game Freak says Pokémon models have to be recreated for Sword and Shield
  • The size of the Galar Region Pokedex has not been shared, but it will include entire evolution tree of Pokemon featured in the trailers
  • There have been no decisions on whether or not additional Pokémon will be added to the Galar Pokedex after release
  • Pokémon Home is becoming the new hub for older Pokémon. Pokemon held in Home could appear in carious future titles.
  • Sword and Shield sets the stage for a new Generation and doesn’t share a lot of similarities with the Let’s Go! series
  • The only thing these two games share are base programming libraries and low level code
  • Wild Area will be a shared environment where you can trade with other people from the internet. The messages are communicated through a “stickers” system
  • There are plans to have a feature similar to Raid Battles. More about that will be shared at a later date.
  • Pre-orders in Japan start on 12th July and the team is looking forward to fan support.

Translation of Masuda and Oomori’s Famitsu Interview

Famitsu: The other day, you (Masuda) made a statement about transferring Pokémon between “Pokémon Home” and “Pokémon Sword/Shield”. I am sure it must have been a difficult decision from the development side. Could you please once again walk us through it, and let us know your own feelings towards it?

Masuda: With the change of the hardware platform to the Nintendo Switch, the depictions of Pokémon have become more vivid; on the other hand, this has caused an increase in development time. The number of Pokémon (counting both new Pokémon and forms of existing Pokémon) has crossed 1,000. In addition to improving the graphical quality to adapt to the new hardware platform, when it comes to battles, it has become exceedingly difficult to give Pokémon new individualistic traits and balance (TL note: type, etc.) affinities. These are the circumstances that led to this decision, and it was decided that it will be difficult to make all Pokémon appear in future games.

A special version of the Nintendo Switch Lite that features Zacian and Zamazenta
A special version of the Nintendo Switch Lite that features Zacian and Zamazenta

Famitsu: That is true. If you consider the quality of the graphics in Pokémon Sword/Shield, it must take a considerable amount of time to create all the Pokémon.

Masuda: Yes, this was a sad decision for us as well. If it was possible for us, we would have liked to have brought along all the Pokémon, but this is a decision that had to be made someday. In the end, we had to pick quality (over quantity).

Oomori: This decision came about after considerable consultation with Masuda. Even during the development of Pokémon Sun/Moon, it was extremely difficult for us (to bring along all previous Pokémon); with the move to new hardware, it became necessary to recreate models from scratch (TL note: he does specifically say “models“). I hope that players who play Pokémon Sword/Shield will understand (even with the restriction on Pokémon that can be brought in), the experience has been greatly improved thanks to elements such as the wild area and story.

Famitsu: How large is the Galar region Pokedex going to be?

Masuda: We cannot disclose further information at this stage beyond this, but, the evolved forms of all Pokémon appearing in trailers will be included in the Pokedex. For instance, you must have noticed Charizard behind Champion Leon. So, Charmander will also appear. Of course, there will also be Pokémon included that have not appeared in any trailers as of right now (12th June 2019).

Famitsu: Are there plans to add Pokémon not appearing in the Galar Pokedex (after release) through updates?

Masuda: There have been no decisions made about updates. We are thinking of allowing players to bring these Pokémon through Pokémon Home so they can take part in future titles. We will by no means ignore them.

Famitsu: About your future outlook, now that you will have created the graphics for Pokémon appearing in Pokémon Sword/Shield, would it be possible for these Pokémon to appear in the next titles?

Masuda: We are investigating the possibility. With the introduction of new mechanics like Mega Evolution or Dynamaxing, there are changes affecting both the graphics production and battle balance. There certainly are difficulties.

Galar region gym battles feature dynamaxed Pokemon
Galar region gym battles feature dynamaxed Pokemon

Famitsu: So instead of increasing the number Pokémon (in the game) as the series develops, and bringing them all up to the standards of the current hardware, the new situation is that you can now bring Pokémon that go well together with specific titles from “Pokémon Home”?

Masuda: That is correct, under these new circumstances, it will be possible for players to bring their Pokémon into “Pokémon Home” and take them out into various titles. If you think about it from the perspective of the Pokémon (that aren’t coming over), it’s as if they’re saying “this region is cold, so I’ll stay back in Home!”. We are also thinking of preparing ways to play inside of Pokémon Home.

Famitsu: Will it be possible to take Pokémon into spin-offs of the Pokémon series?

Masuda: We have considered this concept (implication: no decision has been made). We will keep it in consideration in the future.

Famitsu: I see. So the new stance is that “Pokémon Home” is the hub, and you will be able to take out Pokémon into each title. In concern to the next generation games that incorporate this stance, “Pokémon Sword/Shield”, what sort of a game do you want to think of it as, in comparison to “Pokémon Lets Go! Pikachu/Eevee” that released on the same system?

Masuda: Being a game developed from the ground up, “Pokémon Sword/Shield” sets the stage for a new generation, and fundamentally differs from “Pokémon Lets Go! Pikachu/Eevee” (that were based on “Pokémon Yellow”), both in terms of development and nature of play. The only thing that carried over were the “base” and programming libraries created for these games.

Oomori: We are creating these games in the hopes that everyone is able to enjoy playing them. We are, of course, also highly concerned with making sure that children are able to play and understand the games. We also hope it will be enjoyed by players looking for a deeper training and battling experience. We wish to support various different kinds of play.

Famitsu: You have already introduced new elements like the “Wild Area” and “Dynamaxing”, etc. What are the new parts of the games that the two of you would like to draw attention towards?

Masuda: It would be Max Raid Battles for me. I hope everyone gives playing four player co-op a try. While playing together, I hope it will give rise to conversations like “Would it be okay for me to Dynamax?”, “If you Dynamax, I’ll use this move!”, I hope you will enjoy conversing while playing together!

Oomori: The “Wild Area” that we have tried our hand at for the first time is taking shape as an interesting element of the game. You can meet people from all over the world in the Wild Area by connecting to the internet and you what players are doing will be communicated through stickers (something resembling icons). For instance, when someone catches a Pokémon, a “XX was caught!” sticker will appear. If that is a Pokémon you want, you can request a trade. I hope players will enjoy stickers as a new tool for communication.

Max raid battles in Pokemon Sword and Shield
Max raid battles in Pokemon Sword and Shield

Famitsu: … I see! Of the communication features of the game, I would like to ask about battling — have you been able to realize the full-blown battle system of the traditional “Pokémon” series?

Masuda: It would be good to think of this as a continuation/improvement of the foundations of (implied: the battle system in) Pokémon X/Y and Pokémon Sun/Moon. We also have plans to have “competitive communication features” resembling Raid battles. We will reveal more at a later date.

Famitsu: What is your final message for the fans looking forward to the game?

Oomori: The story and characters are now a lot more charming. With that said, I hope you look forward to the games!

Masuda: As completely new entries into the “Pokémon” series, these games will have great value for players (TL note: liberal translation warning!). I hope players look forward to them. I hope you look forward to see what the three starter Pokémon, Grooky, Scorbunny and Sobble evolve into! Also, as this game is also a simultaneous worldwide release, I hope people the world over look forward to it together. Pre-orders (in Japan) start on 12th July 2019, so we look forward to your support!

Mentioned in the article

Releases on November 15 2019
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