With so many titles in the extensive and ever-growing Pokemon game franchise, it can be hard to pinpoint a favorite. But for Game Freak co-founder and director Junichi Masuda, it’s quite simple: Pokemon GO is his unrivaled and best-loved Pokemon series “spin-off.”

Speaking in an interview with Game Informer, which centered around an in-depth discussion of core Pokemon RPGs, Masuda opened up about why Pokemon GO is the standout and superior spin-off title across all platforms. Though Masuda was hesitant to consider it an actual spin-off, he explained that the popularity of the game took him by surprise — especially after a rocky road with creating titles that proceeded it.

The director brought up the mobile monster-catching game when tackling the topic of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, which he stated were the two most difficult titles for him to create. While those games were in development, Masuda began to notice the Pokemon brand fading, a realization that put him under a great amount of stress. But when Pokemon GO finally came out, he discovered that the franchise still had countless adoring fans. At one point, Pokemon GO became more popular than the dating app Tinder. “Pokemon GO is experiencing something similar where people are saying, ‘Eh, it’s done. The fad’s over,’ but it was way worse than that after Gold and Silver had settled down and we were working on the next game,” Masuda explained.

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Also in attendance at the interview was director Shigeru Ohmori, who gave an unexpected answer when asked his favorite Pokemon spin-off game. “I played a lot of Pokemon Snap. I got really into it,” Ohmori said of the 1999 first-person rail shooter and simulation title. “The most fun part for me — this may have been a Japan-only thing — but you could take your game to a convenience store and print out the photos you took and could use them like stickers and put them on things. I just had a lot of fun being able to take the photos in the game and print them out as things that I could use.”

The game saw a resurgence earlier this year in the United States when Nintendo announced Pokemon Snap for the Wii U Virtual Console. A Nintendo 64 classic, Pokemon Snap was made available last year in European countries and in Japan, following the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon.

As far as what the future holds for the Pokemon franchise, it’s still anyone’s guess. But is Masua and Ohmori have their way, racing and action-focused games will be coming soon. Masuda stated that there is an Easter egg-like reference in and Y, where “Rhydon Racing” exists in that world. “There might be a message in there that I really want to create Rhydon racing,” Masuda hinted. For Ohmori, he “really want[s] to try working on a real action-focused game,” perhaps a 2D side-scroller, since the franchise already has a few fighting games.

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Lately, the buzz around Pokemon GO hasn’t been all that positive. Following a failed festival held in Chicago that resulted in technical glitches and service outages, disappointed fans, and subsequent playability issues, the mobile game’s reputation has taken a few hits over the past month. Though the title seems to have found its footing again this week, with more than two million players attending the Pikachu Outbreak event in Japan, hearing a distinguished industry executive sing Pokemon GO‘s praises is a great thing to hear after back-to-back game-related disasters.

Pokemon GO is available now exclusively on Android and iOS devices.

Source: Game Informer