Pokemon video game veteran Junichi Masuda — who has served in several capacities at developer Game Freak over the years, including composer, director, designer, producer, and programmer — hopes that the upcoming Pokemon: Let’s Go! will serve as a “starting point for the next 20 years of Pokemon”.
In an interview with The Verge, Masuda revealed that he has high hopes from the next Pokemon game, out November 16 on the Nintendo Switch, on which he is game director. He has spent over two decades with the franchise, starting with Pokemon Red and Blue in 1996 for the Game Boy. And he credited Niantic’s 2016 mobile hit Pokemon Go for propelling the series forward.
“Pokemon Go really did represent the second Pokemon boom, so to say, and it was really a rare opportunity that no one could have counted on,” Masuda said. “Especially the timing, with the 20th anniversary of Pokemon was the same year and we were able to create something that really resonated with the world again and just kind of create this huge explosion.”
Masuda also talked about the importance of Pokemon being “a positive force in the world”, recalling an anecdote from years past, when a child’s mother said the Pokemon games had changed her son’s life for the better. Owing to that feedback, Masuda has since “tried to focus on keeping the series positive”.
“I really think it’s important that Pokemon […] makes people happier, enriches their lives through a variety of ways,” he added. “But I don’t think it needs to be a consistent, unchanging experience necessarily. I think there’s still a lot of room to explore variety, not only through the main series of games but also through the more spin-off titles.”