In a Famitsu interview from last month, it was revealed that Pokemon Sword and Shield is using entirely new Pokemon assets.
In the wake of an enormous fan backlash over Sword and Shield not carrying over every pre-existing Pokemon, this interview with Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori surfaced and shed some additional light on the situation. According to Masuda, bringing the full Pokedex (now numbering 809) into 2016’s Sun and Moon was hard enough. The Switch’s improved graphics and visual fidelity have since lengthened the development time necessary to render Pokemon, the devs explained, so the decision to limit a game’s Pokedex would have been made sooner or later.
With the old “Gotta’ Catch ‘Em All!” tagline being removed from most Pokemon media, the writing on the wall that the National Dex may be leaving for good has been around for a while. It’s finally happening in Sword and Shield, as, counting alternate forms as Pokemon, the roster now numbers over 1000 – and that’s a bit too many HD 3D models to expect in a large annualized RPG that has to have other assets. Using this as a base going forward, we could see the full roster again as early as next year in a re-release, but the fact remains, the game is bursting at the seams.
While development efforts have been hampered by Game Freak dividing their team between this and the upcoming Town game while aiming for typical Pokemon profit margins in the same amount of time, it’s impossible to deny that they have a lot on their plate with making hundreds of HD Pokemon models, designing Max Raid Battles, assembling the Wild Area, and balancing all of the moves, abilities, Dynamax moves, and Gigantamax moves. The situation is ugly and the team deserves the (more sensible) feedback they’ve received, but… it is what it is.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are coming out this November 15th. Whether you think the new features outweigh the lost ones or not, it’s on its way, and I’m gonna’ hope for the best.