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Game Freak should not be making Pokémon games anymore – Reader’s Feature

Pokémon Sword and Shield – if only the actual game looked like this (pic: The Pokémon Company)
A reader is unimpressed by Pokémon Sword and Shield’s graphics and insists that Game Freak should be replaced as the primary developer.
Having now spent some considerable time with Pokémon Sword/Shield (Sword to be precise) I feel perfectly qualified to say that Game Freak should not make the next one. I absolutely do not want to accuse any of the developers of being lazy but I think it’s obvious that they’ve become complacent, especially when reading interviews where their attitude towards adding any kind of new idea, or explaining why they keep removing existing ones, is a sort of self-satisfied ‘mother knows best’.
Having played the game it seems obvious to me that their main problem is simply that they have no idea how to work with modern technology and, more importantly, seemingly no interest in finding out. The graphics in Sword and Shield are just terrible. It looks much worse than Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, despite that game world being much bigger and more interactive and actually originally being designed for the Wii U. So it wasn’t even made for the Switch from the ground up.
Pokémon games always sell much more than any Zelda, so the idea that the first one on the Switch wouldn’t get at least as much tender loving care and budget is madness. If you don’t count Mario – which includes basically any game that he made so much as a cameo in – according to Wikipedia, Pokémon is the biggest video game franchise in the world. Bigger than Call Of Duty and bigger than GTA.
As GC pointed out in their review of Pokémon Sword and Shield , this game should have whatever budget it needs but it looks like something made on the cheap as some sort of side project while the rest of the team worked on something else. The lack of detail and geometry in the backdrops are embarrassing, the way the camera jerkily moves around in the non-Wild Area sections is like some first year computer student’s first demo, and the amount of pop-up in the open world is just sad. All that and there’s frequent slowdown too!
Then there’s the pokémon themselves. Why do they still look like this? Ignoring the fact of whether most of the old ones have been ported over from Sun and Moon or not (I think it’s pretty obvious they have) why are they all just flat-shaded textures? The pokémon in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where there is a lot, lot more going on at once are much more detailed in terms of features and they have fur, scales, etc. Why not in Sword and Shield as well? Smash even has the proper pokémon noises!

Having hundreds of pokémon reacting and interacting with each other in battles is difficult, of course, but it’s really just a question of manpower and budget, both of which should not be an issue for a game like this. The most important new sequel to the biggest franchise of all time should not be penny-pinching and having lame animations where moves like Slam just have what looks like a generic white tadpole flop onto screen or where Double Kick is just a stencil of a foot appearing on screen.
That was clever when it was on a low powered portable console but when the Switch is putting out games as graphically impressive as Luigi’s Mansion 3 there’s only three possible explanations: laziness, lack of money, or incompetence. I really don’t think it’s the first, I know it’s not the second, so the only conclusion is that Game Freak just aren’t up to the job. Which is totally understandable really, considering they’ve barely ever made any home console games and Pokémon is usually only on portables.
But they should have accepted that lack of experience and either staffed up enough to get around it or brought in someone else to help. But they’re too arrogant for that and so we get a game that looks two generations behind where it should be and, because it’s been super successful, they’ve now got no incentive to try harder.
Everyone talks about having their ‘dream Pokémon game’ and the main reason for that is because it’s so easy to see how the games could be improved – and yet everybody knows Game Freak are never going to get around to doing it. Not only that, they can’t do it; not with their current level of experience and technical ability.
If Pokémon was done by Microsoft or Sony, or even just the Zelda or Xenoblade teams, it would be completely different: great graphics, huge open world, decent dialogue and story… there’s nothing that could’t be instantly improved by any developer with just a bit more vision and ambition. Maybe Game Freak can be kept on in an advisory role – the one thing I will say about Sword and Shield is that the majority of the new designs are good – but that’s all.
In terms of actually making the games… they’re not up to the job and they should have been removed or put into a different role as soon as possible. Preferably 10 years ago.
By reader Joshdarn

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email [email protected] and follow us on Twitter .
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