Despite nearly two decades worth of titles, Pokemon still remains one of the most popular handheld titles on the market. Every Pokemon release is a major even for its fan base, regardless of whether it's a brand new title or an upgraded re-release.
However, if one were to ask Pokefans what they prefer, they would likely say a brand new title – like Pokemon X and Y – is a more favorable option. And that's why the fan base is bursting with excitement after a very cryptic announcement from Game Freak programmer Tetsuya Watanabe.
In 4Gamer's regular year-end developer survey, they poll a number of individuals from around the game development scene asking them what the future may hold. Fans of Kingdom Hearts and Danganropa might want to give the full survey a read-through, but the juiciest response belongs to Watanabe.
Tetsuya Watanaba (Game Freak)Known for: Pokemon series
“We’re doing a lot of different things with respect to our next project, so right now we’re focusing on getting ready to announce it. We sincerely hope from the bottom of our hearts that it’ll be worth checking out once we get to that point.”
While Watanabe doesn't have much to say at the moment, he suggests an official game reveal is imminent. He also says that Game Freak's next project will try to deviate from past approaches in some key ways, manly in how it adapts to modern game structure.
To be honest, the Watanabe quotes are a little impenetrable, partly because they are translated from Japanese to German and then English and partly because he is trying to remain cryptic. The major takeaway, though, is that it appears Game Freak will move towards a shorter release cycle so as to keep up with the times.
Essentially, Watanabe suggests that leaving 3 years between releases (he doesn't mention Pokemon) has put Game Freak behind the curve. With a 1-year development cycle, the company can look at current games and decide how best to adapt to those new approaches.
Read the (roughly translated) quotes below:
"Luckily, we at GAME FREAK are blessed with great workers. Because of that i don't have to worry when i'm concentrating on new Games like Pokemon X and Pokemon Y and Sequels are being handled by other Project Managers. In Case of Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 it was Takao Unno, and this Time Mr. Ohmori took the Wheel. When i give a Game in the Hands of another Project Manager, i need to be convinced that their Vision is the right one for the Game. The responsibillity will be entirely on him, but at the same Time he recives full creative Freedom. Naturally we hope that all Team-Members will support this Project Manager and give their best, thus at the End a Game of high Quality can be released. Releasing multiple Games over a short Time Period is always a Race against the Time. The more Time you'll invest, the better the Game will be. However, there are multiple Factors that prevent us from doing this. If we would always take three years of Time to develop a Game, we wouldn't be able to keep up with with the fast moving nature of the modern World. When we think about when to release a Game, we ask ourselfs when the demand for it from our audience will be the highest. But if we have one year of development Time, it'll becomes easier to look at the current Framework and to decide what needs to be improved, and what can stay in it's current condition. Thus, we have to do everything to achieve the best possible Result in the stated Timeframe"
Ultimately, there's little to go on, but the prospect of an imminent announcement from Game Freak is nonetheless exciting. Most would point to another Pokemon game, sequel, spin-off, re-release as the likeliest candidates, but it's also possible Game Freak is prepping something completely new. All we know at this point is that Game Freak is going to try and bring a little modern flair to the game.
What do you make of Watanabe's quotes? How would you like to see the next Pokemon game change things up?