A subset of Pokemon fans are complaining because Game Freak has the audacity to re-use animations in Pokemon Sword & Shield. A portion of the Pokemon fanbase has been very vocal in their dislike that Pokemon Sword & Shield won’t be compatible with every Pokemon currently in the franchise. While past games have allowed players to transfer all of their older Pokemon into the game, Game Freak made the decision to limit the number of Pokemon species to an unspecified number due to the need to animate over 900 Pokemon models and close to a thousand different Pokemon moves in a higher fidelity than what was needed in Nintendo 3DS Pokemon games.
Since the announcement was made, a group of Pokemon fans have turned on the main series game developers Game Freak, claiming that their decision was made out of laziness and greed. To prove their point, fans have occasionally posted videos showing side-by-side comparisons of Pokemon Sword & Shield clips with clips from past games that appear to show Pokemon having the same idle animations and battle animations. Other “fans” have made the claim that Pokemon Coliseum, a game containing a fraction of the Pokemon and released over 15 years ago, actually looks better than Pokemon Sword & Shield.
While some of the disappointment is understandable, there’s a couple of erroneous narratives that are in need of correcting. Game Freak director Junichi Masuda stated that the decision was made to focus on higher fidelity animations for the Nintendo Switch, not that they were crafting all new Pokemon models and animations. While it’s clear that Game Freak is re-using some animations and models, increasing the fidelity isn’t an instant process, as explained in this threadby game designer Miodrag Kovachevic. And while there’s plenty of evidence that Pokemon Sword & Shield will use some new animations, Game Freak director Junichi Masuda noted in a previous interview that they attempted to bring over many of the older models and animations, but the higher fidelity rate led to some models needing to be completely re-made.
In addition, a narrative about Game Freak being “stingy” or “cheap” by not hiring enough developers to work on Pokemon Sword & Shield ignores the economic and business reality that it often takes months to properly on-board a new employee to the point that they can contribute to a high-profile project. Plus, finding skilled developers (like any skilled job) can be a long process, one that can’t be fixed in a matter of weeks or even months. There’s an argument to be made that Game Freak should have hired more developers if they wanted to include all 800 Pokemon, but that decision would had to occur years ago to make an impact on Pokemon Sword & Shield.1COMMENTS
At the end of the day, Game Freak and Nintendo have the right to design and release a Pokemon game with as many Pokemon as they want, and Pokemon fans have the right not to buy it if they feel it doesn’t live up to its standards. However, trying to craft a narrative using a few seconds of video seems disingenuous and doesn’t really help the discourse of the game or the toxicity of the fanbase at all.
Pokemon Sword & Shield will be released on November 19th.