Yes, Game Freak lied. But it’s more than that. This movement has been building for a long time.
Pokémon fans fall into two camps when it comes to Sword & Shield’s release today. Most, perhaps even a strong majority, are just happy to have a new Pokémon game to play. And then there’s another camp angrily tweeting #GameFreakLied and denouncing Sword & Shield as the end of all things Pokémon.
#GameFreakLied appears to have been born on Reddit in a thread that “proves” Game Freak, the developers of Pokémon, reused 3D models of Pokémon from previous games in Sword & Shield. The argument here is that Game Freak previously said one of the reasons that the national Dex was cut was due to them remaking every Pokémon from scratch, including new models and new animations.
Game Freak producer Junichi Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori did a now-infamous interview last June with Famitsu to explain their reasoning for not carrying forward every Pokémon from previous games. Animations and modeling were just one reason, but the largest explanation was given to game mechanics. It’s simply impossible to properly balance a game with over 900 Pokémon in it. Monsters would need to be culled eventually, and Sword & Shield seemed to be as good a time as any.
The #GameFreakLied camp seems to want to focus on the modeling and animations, however, and use it as a rallying cry for like-minded former fans who feel betrayed. And yet, the problem here isn’t so much that Game Freak lied, or that Sword & Shield seems to have sub-par graphics.
I've been going through the returning Pokemon models in SwSh and comparing them to the ones from SuMo, and so far every model I've checked has (unsurprisingly) been 100% identical. pic.twitter.com/ehyytH0QQY— Blazingflare (@Blazingflare) November 13, 2019
The problem, as Polygon so rightly points out, is the generational divide that Pokémon has to endure. Fans that grew up playing Red & Blue are now in their thirties or forties, and they have a notion of Pokémon that is entirely different than those new to the series. For them, the act of bringing forward every Pokémon from previous generations is sacred--some still have beloved ‘Mons from their original team. Leaving them behind is such a viscerally tragic thing to endure that it’s no wonder they’re venting their frustrations on any excuse they can find.
#GameFreakLied will trend on Twitter for a little long, but already we see #PokemonSwordShield drowning out the naysayers. It likely won’t affect Nintendo or Game Freak’s future development of the franchise either--catering to kids has been, and always will be, Pokémon’s bread and butter.