Game Freak Confirms Pokémon Legends: Arceus Started Development Before Sword & Shield's Launch – Nintendo Life

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And Scarlet & Violet started in 2019
Game Freak held a talk during the Computer Entertainment Developers Conference 2022 (CEDEC) yesterday, 25th August, and the company shared a lot of information about how it developed assets for every Pokémon game, from Pokémon Red & Blue all the way through to the most recent entry in the series, Pokémon Legends: Arceus.
Hosted by Keiichi Maezawa, Game Freak detailed how it uses many different effects like ShaderFX and how its implementation has improved over the years. And during the talk, the company confirmed that the development of Legends Arceus started in the fall of 2018 — a full year before the generation VIII games, Pokémon Sword & Shield, launched.
The details of the talk have been shared by Twitter use and YouTuber @Lewchube, who is hoping to get the entire presentation translated in the near future. But this tidbit confirms that Legends: Arceus was in development for three years.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus saw a number of changes to the Pokémon formula, with more open zones and Pokémon out on the field, as well as the option to not even battle wild Pokémon — if you manage to catch them and not get spotted!
Now, we’re well on the way to the launch of generation IX with Pokémon Scarlet & Violet, and Maezawa also shared that the upcoming games started development in late 2019, around the time Sword & Shield were getting ready to launch. By the time Scarlet & Violet launch, the duo will also have been in development for three years.
Generation IX looks to be taking a few cues from Legends: Arceus, with The Pokémon Company promising an ‘open-world’ mainline RPG for the first time. With the two being developed pretty much side-by-side, it’s not too surprising, but we’re excited to see what other influences Legends: Arceus has had on the red and purple pair.
These are just early details from the talk for now — we’ll likely have even more info to dig into in the coming days, so keep an eye out. If you want an overview of the talk, then head on over to Lewchube’s Twitter.
Did you enjoy Pokémon Legend: Arceus? Are you looking forward to Scarlet & Violet? Let us know!
[source twitter.com]About Alana Hagues
Alana Hagues
RPG lover first and Nintendo fan second, Alana is often found overthinking battle strategies, characters, and stories. Fortunately, she’s also easily pleased by anything Yoshi-related, creepy-but-cute Pokémon, and SEGA air pirates.
Comments (53)
KindofaBigDeal
Based on the graphics the development started on 3DS and they forgot to upgrade them for Switch.
Chortle.
mariomaster96
Not surprising. Contrary to popular belief Pokemon games are actually longer in development than just one year lol
Snatcher
I mean that makes sense, how else would we have gotten two Pokémon games in one year.
Kimyonaakuma
Seems like they spend more time hitting deadlines instead of making progress. Or if they make an improvement it won’t carry over.
I suppose it sells either way – even if people love to complain about it.
wanghosom
At one point in time, in the middle of a pandemic, gamefreak (which is composed of only 178 employees as of may 2022) was developing sword and shield dlc, legend arceus and scarlet and violet simultaneously.
Pokémon fans are always fast to call them bad and lazy developers, but I challenge any other studios to manage to do what they do while meeting such inhuman deadlines.
Stop blaming gamefreak, the real enemy here is TPC.
Tainaru
So it seems to me that they will start working on gen X very soon, or maybe they started already.
Probably another remake for next year is in motion too, maybe with some completely new game.
Joker1234
@KindofaBigDeal Scarlet and Violet looks like Detective Pikachu graphics but HD for the Switch. It’s so crazy that Gamefreak still can’t make a Pokémon game that looks like a Switch game.
KimberlyHart
❗️Based on my opinion of each game, I can see the love was put into 🗡🛡
wicktus
@wanghosom We cannot know if it’s either Gamefreak or TPC. For me it’s both that are responsible here for the issues:
Take note that GameFreak also develop games outside the Pokémon franchise. It’s up to GF to train, hire, expand accordingly, improve the 3D toolkits/SDK (they’ll never use Unreal or Unity given the license cost). In 2020 they moved to bigger offices near Nintendo, hopefully they are going to work on their technical issues.
Regarding pokemon games release schedules that’s more TPC yes, it’s really intensive.
But in the end as of june 2022,..24.50 millions copies for sword/shield
12.6 million for Arceus as of March 2022
We’ll see scarlet/violet if it’s decreasing they may start to understand that they need to improve the games. But who am I kidding lol it’s going to wreck everything sales wise.
YoshiF2
@wanghosom and what about if … hear me on this…. Instead of making 3 games simultaneously… they made 1 or 2 better games in their pipeline? Instead of trying to meet yearly deadlines with games.
Also, Arceus was vastly superior over Sword & Shield. I don’t know what were they thinking with the latter.
Anachronism
I wonder if we’ll ever get a Pokemon game collection. I’d take something on par with 3D All-Stars, with just the first three generations packed on a cartridge. There’s gotta be some kind of diminishing returns on rereleasing Gen 1 over and over, though admittedly I’d probably buy Red again if they put it on the eshop tomorrow.
Gunit1099
I JUST wish they kept the catching mechanisms of Arceus for the main games 😢
larryisaman
@wicktus @wanghosom GameFreak are a third of TPC though, I’m sure they have enough say to be able to focus on one game if they wanted to. There’s no need for them to spread themselves so thin when there are plenty of developers they could partner with to make spin offs and remakes with their supervision while they work on mainline games. Having ILCA on SP/BD is a start but hopefully in the future they outsource any projects that aren’t mainline so they can make them the best they can be
CielloArc
@wanghosom I will simply point at Monolith Soft, they had to develop their own games while also helping other people, such as the teams developing BoTW 2 and Splatoon 3, develop tech.
In the last couple of years they’ve got not only XC3 on their plate but other games too, and XC3 still managed to be one of the best looking games on Switch.
So yeah, looking at this anyone would say that GF is lazy, they don’t even use anti-aliasing.
Wexter
@CielloArc Monolith is a different beast entirely from Gamefreak. Monolith comes from 1990s Squaresoft where graphics and smart tricks were used to make breath taking games. They also, are way better at topography and landscape design then most in the Industry, but really struggle in other areas due to ambition. Their animations are some of the stiffest in the industry, their tutorials are borderline useless and they reuse a ton of assets. Xenoblade 3 clearly reused a lot of assets from Xenoblade 2, X and Xenoblade DE. These are not bad things, but the comparison is not a good one. Sword and Shield was GF first attempt at an HD game where Monolith cut their teeth on Xenoblade X and that game has major development hurdles.
Not letting Gamefreak off the hook either, but there is a massive difference between developing 2 independent titles + large DLCs and developing one dedicated title and supporting two others in a technical capacity. Monolith are amazing, but they cut a lot of corners in their games to meet their deadlines that are not nearly as firm as GF.
SpaceboyScreams
I just want Legends 2. Arceus was quality entertainment from beginning to end even if it still felt like a college student threw it together. Everything else GF does with Pokemon is kinda lame anymore.
bobzbulder
@Joker1234 Scarlet and Violet weren’t made by gamefreak
SpaceboyScreams
@bobzbulder What? Of course they were.
wanghosom
@CielloArc Monolith soft (whose works I love) are for sure exceptionally good developers, but they have almost double the number of employees than gamefreak and they take (rightfully!) much more time to release their mainline titles (single player games which are a completely different beast than online multiplayer games btw).
Should Gamefreak follow the Monolith soft way and take them as an example? Probably, yeah.
Will TPC deadlines and greediness allow Gamefreak the time and money to do so? Never in a million years.
Wexter
@SpaceboyScreams yeah… No idea where he got that idea. Outside of Nintendo, TPC and Creatures Inc I don’t see any other developer’s logos in the trailers outside of Gamefreak…
Wexter
@wanghosom I honestly think GF should ask Monolith to help with their games topography. Sword and Shield’s biggest issue was the wild areas were just not that interesting to explore. Isle of Armour and Crown Tundra were improvements, but if Monolith was allowed to help critique their design and provide technical support they’d be beyond better experiences.
Controversial opinion, but Pokemon Sword and Shield looked visually fine… Just the level design was real sore spots thay highlighted the weakest parts of Gamefreak’s art style. Gamefreak can make beautiful games when it plays to their strengths like Sun and Moon and Let’s Go Eevee/Pikachu. Sword and Shield did not play to those strengths.
AlexanderDaniels
Three years of development and it shows.
westman98
@bobzbulder
Huh? Scarlet/Violet are absolutely made by GameFreak.
westman98
@CielloArc
To be fair, no Nintendo games outside of the Xenoblade titles have anti-aliasing. The lack of AA is somewhat of a defining trait of Nintendo software 😂.
Bobb
I hope they make another spinoff like Legends Arceus. It was too fun to have an official Pokemon game throw out all the rules through the window and still make an amazing game
Kilroy
This is news? Games take years to develop now, been that way for several generations, lol.
Serpenterror
It was an awesome game but hamper only by its low quality graphical performance, hopefully they make a sequel for the next gen Switch successor and build upon that.
wanghosom
@Wexter I wholeheartedly agree, a pokémon game co-developed with Monolith Soft would be a dream come true
Joker1234
@bobzbulder Are you sure about? Last time I checked Gamefreak was behind every mainline Pokémon game lol.
Kestrel
I hope the new games play more like Arceus. Tried to get into the older ones in 3DS but found the gameplay loop just too dull. Loved Arceus, tho.
Zorox88
@Kestrel Give Ruby and Sapphire remakes a chance they are actually really good.
Kiwi_Unlimited
@SpaceboyScreams
Or even. . . Just give us multiple massive dlcs!
I didn’t care to buy sword and shield’s dlc. I’d by arceus legends dlc in a heart beat.
NinjaWaddleDee
3 years development? I think Gamefreak… may just not be a good developer… lol
NinjaWaddleDee
@Zorox88 Yeah ORAS was the last Pokemon game I was addicted to. Arceus was pretty good too, but I stopped playing after a beat it.
Arawn93
Well yes. You typically start development for next game long before the launch of current game. You don’t need the entire dev team for the last lap of the race. Whoever remained worked on the dlc/updates of SW/SD while rest worked on new game is typically how it works
Wouldn’t surprise me that they are currently working on next game after Scarlet/Violet
JazzyBeat
They took 3 years to develop Legends Arceus but couldn’t make it look great visually. Legends Arceus was fun, but after hearing this reveal I have no hope for GF and TPC to make an actual visually impressive game that doesn’t only depend on gameplay to be great.
Dizavid
I hope people who complain about graphics have to spend two decades playing Pong before they’re allowed into the afterlife. Gamers Purgatory if you will. The absolute worst I can say about Arceus is I’d have liked a bit more color but the detail put into each landscape meant, as I explored an area multiple times, I grew to know it and recognize where I’d come out at times I’d gotten myself lost but come across a familiar place, until I’d began mentally mapping it out myself. That’s the kind of attention I want on graphics. I mean, Pokemon can only get so realistic before they’d have to turn it into a horror game (imagine these creatures only realistic. Most of them would be nightmare fuel. Arbok would be an actual Resident Evil boss)
Joeynator3000
@KindofaBigDeal I swear the resolution looked 3DS-ish at times here…normally I don’t care about graphics and stuff like that, but…wtf?
prismt
And still managed to launch with the shiny giratina bug, which is still unfixed.
thefoxystoat
i honestly dont believe them, developers say all the time stuff like ‘ we began working on skyrim as soon as we shipped fallout 3 ‘ etc, i have no doubt in my mind that 99% of staff were not working on pokemon games after the release of the last, maybe one artist was doodling cocept art on toilet paper but thers no way in hell these games get any more than a years development time
thefoxystoat
Removed – inappropriate
Arawn93
@thefoxystoat who cares? Some people play games for the gameplay and not how pretty the graphics are. It’s why Nintendo is successful despite them not pursuing 4k, 120 FPS, etc
Switch_Pro
@wanghosom There is no "enemy" at all, they are just gonna do what they wanna do. They are a private company, not public sector or the government.
DrewBA77
I don’t get this obsession with graphics. Games come out all the time with sound technology as old as PS1 games. And gameplay more outdated than a PS2 game. Or games that have very little gameplay in between cutscenes. Guaranteed the whiners wouldn’t say a thing if this was a game that looked like God of War and it was just one long quick time event.
"Highly rated game but I refuse to buy it cuz graphics." I don’t get it.
tkdboy1889
@JazzyBeat I’ll take fun gameplay over impressive visuals any day of the week.
tkdboy1889
@thefoxystoat fun gameplay and compelling game design sticks around. Pretty visuals are quickly forgotten, and will eventually become outdated.
SpaceboyScreams
@tkdboy1889 @DrewBA77 In the case of a company that runs the most successful media franchise in the world, graphics are a big indication of the rest of the game’s quality. If Marvel put out movies with terrible CGI, like 1990’s straight to DVD fantasy movies, fans would think the company doesn’t care and wonder why they should invest their money and time into going to see it in theaters. If GameFreak were underdogs nobody would bat a lash at the graphics, but when we all know what they’re capable of as they sit on a mountain-sized pile of cash they could throw at a team dedicated to graphics alone, a lot of us are scratching our heads. Sword and Shield didn’t just look like doodoo, it had doodoo cutscenes and doodoo mechanics (those raid battles were a joke) and doodoo DLC. The writing was on the wall. All we ask is that they start respecting the fans that made them so incredibly rich by spending a little of that wealth on a more quality experience. It’s not an insane proposition. Respect is a two way street.
tkdboy1889
@SpaceboyScreams See, I have never really seen the correlation between quality of visuals and quality of the game’s overall design in other fields. I’ve played several triple A games with absolutely gorgeous graphics and crisp textures, but the game itself would range from simply good, to mediocre, to downright boring.
Let’s compare two big games from this year. Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West. Elden Ring took over the internet for months, people couldn’t stop talking about it. It’s on track to potentially be GOTY. It’s been touted by many as the best game from From Software. Horizon Forbidden West was forgotten fairly quickly outside of dedicated communities. The one area where everyone agrees HFW is superior is the graphics. It has top of the line visuals, whereas Elden Ring graphically looks ten years old already. And yet Elden Ring dominated the conversation.
Would it be nice to have both state-of-the-art graphics AND gameplay design? Absolutely. But if I can only get one it’s gameplay all day. Sword and Shield wasn’t bad mainly for the visuals; it was generic and uninspired. Arceus felt like a true innovation for the series. It took risks, it felt fresh. I look past the visuals with ease when everything else is good.
bobzbulder
@westman98 @Joker1234 @Wexter @SpaceboyScreams Lol, I must have been really tired, was thinking of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl. I get the names confused 🤪
Cathousemaster
So how many of you have worked at a professional video games company and have in-depth knowledge of software development and video games development?
Oh that’s right. Zero.
Cathousemaster
Graphics have never been the selling point of Pokemon games, yet they are selling just fine. The graphics will gradually improve with each team, each product, each hardware cycle.
And don’t discount the impact of something called "Covid" either.
arnold337
Yeah Thats nice is there any DLC in development? I like that one.
calbeau
Whatever. Just give me the National Dex back in-game.
I know the games have long dropped the "Gotta Catch ‘Em All" slogan, so I guess that’s just me being a stubborn old-school Pokemon player, but still. Pokemon Home is a pain for NDex management.
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