With the reveal of Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! still fresh in the minds of fans around the world, many are left wondering what the games might mean for the future of the series. These first Pokémon RPG titles for Switch are set to take the franchise in a slightly new direction, combining the series' more traditional setup with that of mobile hit Pokémon GO, yet 2019 will see a second RPG release that is destined to return to those well-loved qualities. So how will all of this work?
Talking to members of the European press last week, Game Freak director Junichi Masuda provided answers to some of the burning questions shared by attendees. Firstly, Masuda confirmed that the Pokémon Let's Go titles will feature different available Pokémon to catch across the two versions (as is normal for the main series) and that trading will be present as usual to encourage players to work together on completing their Pokédex.
When asked about the relevancy of Pokémon GO's success and how the title might influence the new games, Masuda talks about the idea of creating a game that everyone can play.
"So in terms of first about how I assess the success of Pokémon Go, of course it makes me very happy to see Pokémon Go be such a huge success and such a phenomenon - and really we think it introduced a lot of people to Pokémon, the idea of catching Pokémon, the idea of a Pokéball. And because of that we really wanted to expand on that kind of idea of what a Pokémon RPG could be, something that's broader, for everyone, and that's why we work on these games. So that's one assessment on Pokémon Go."
"With that in mind obviously there are so many people that played Pokémon Go - I think we reached 800 million downloads - so we wanted to create a fun experience for them but at the same time really make a fun game for fans that have enjoyed the RPGs up until now, so it's really kind of merging those two audiences into one game that we all can have fun and play."
A widely debated topic since the games' reveal has been that of the 'core' audience, and their potential disappointment at a more 'casual'-focused experience. When asked directly about this particular audience, and whether those fans need to wait for the 2019 RPG release to be fully satisfied, Masuda mentions his hopes for all fans of the series to unite together with the upcoming games.
"I've been the director on the main series Pokémon RPGs - most of them, up until now - and there are a lot of kind of core tenets or rules of the series that I've never broke up until now, for example the whole idea of the flow of going into a battle against wild Pokémon, reducing their health and then catching them. That was one of the things that we just never wanted to change but, with these games specifically, I wanted to create a new experience for kids and with this time I decided to shift that towards more of a kind of casual, lighter experience. So that's one of the things I wanted to do."
"So for me, having worked on the Pokémon main series games, and Pokémon Go, both the players who have enjoyed our RPGs until now, all the fans are extremely important to me - but also the people who played Pokémon Go, and that was their first Pokémon game, they're also extremely important to me, and what I really want to do with these games is prevent both of these types of players from going in different directions, and I'm hoping that these games will kind of bring them together."
One last interesting point to mention from this Q & A is the possibility of two types of Pokémon games running alongside each other. Replying to a question asking about the possibility of the Let's Go titles being released simultaneously with games in the main series such as Pokémon Sun and Moon, Masuda said that "there's a possibility of that, should the games sell really well and obviously a lot of people play them, but right now we're really focusing on the development, and just getting a lot of people to play the games in the first place!"
It's certainly an interesting point for discussion, and we could see two sets of games running side-by-side working quite nicely. But what do you think? Let us know your thoughts down below.