The producer of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield has issued an impassioned message to fans following the backlash to the news the games won't support every single Pokémon species.
Earlier this month it emerged Sword and Shield, which pushes the series' overall Pokémon count to over 1000, won't let you catch all the Pokémon, nor will you be able to transfer Pokémon outside of the games' regional Pokédex. Sword and Shield, then, are the first new, mainline Pokémon games not to support every single Pokémon species.
The backlash to this news was as vociferous as it was immediate. In a prior interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu, Game Freak producer Junichi Masuda explained "it has become extremely difficult to make Pokémon with a new personality play an active part and to balance their compatibility".
Not only would it be tough to include more than 1000 in-game models with the graphical quality demanded by a Nintendo Switch game, Masuda added, it would also be too much work to ensure every Pokémon was balanced in battle.
"That is the reason for this decision," Masuda concluded, "and we have decided that it is difficult to make all Pokémon appear in future works.
"This decision is personally sad. Of course, I wanted to be able to bring all Pokémon if I could do it, but it was also a decision that I had to make some day. In the end, I had no choice but to choose the quality."
Despite the explanation, the backlash continued. Now, in a rare public comment to fans, Masuda has addressed the backlash, or, as he puts it, the "love and passion for Pokémon", and moved to reassure concerned fans that "even if a specific Pokémon is not available in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, that does not mean it will not appear in future games".
"Thank you to all of our fans for caring so deeply about Pokémon," the message begins.
"Recently, I shared the news that some Pokémon cannot be transferred to Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. I've read all your comments and appreciate your love and passion for Pokémon.
"Just like all of you, we are passionate about Pokémon and each and every one of them is very important to us. After so many years of developing the Pokémon video games, this was a very difficult decision for me. I'd like to make one thing clear: even if a specific Pokémon is not available in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, that does not mean it will not appear in future games."
Masuda then pointed to the new Pokémon that will be introduced with Sword and Shield.
"The world of Pokémon continues to evolve," he said. "The Galar region offers new Pokémon to encounter, Trainers to battle, and adventures to embark on. We are pouring our hearts into these games, and we hope you will look forward to joining us on this new journey."
It remains to be seen whether this message pours cold water on the current hot response to Pokémon Sword and Shield. But a cursory glance at the Twitter replies to the message suggests Game Freak still has some way to go before it turns opinion around.
Chris Tapsell went hands-on with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield at E3 2019, and saw two brand new Pokémon.