Pokémon may be heading into mobile territory with the recent release of the official trading card game for iPad, but fans shouldn't expect to see a port of the handheld games anytime soon.
Producer Junichi Masuda served with Game Freak on design, script writing and more since the launch of the first Pokémon game before more recently acting as the director on Pokémon X and Y. During an interview with Polygon, Masuda said that there would "need to be a justification there" to bring the creature catching franchise to smartphones or tablets.
"If we were to bring Pokémon to iPad or mobile or smartphones or anything, I think there would need to be ... some sort of problem it would be solving, not just that it would be porting over old games, for example," Masuda said via translator.
When it came to the Pokémon Trading Card game, Masuda explained that the move to iPad was a practical one. In order to really play and enjoy the game, you need a living opponent.
"I think that there's a certain challenge there for certain people to find an opponent, and I think the iPad version, or TCG online in general, kind of solves that problem," Masuda said.
Masuda didn't rule out the possibility of a full mobile game or port eventually, but added that it isn't in the books right now. Thanks to the controls, kid-friendly nature and communication features of the Nintendo 3DS, Game Freak plans to keep its main-series game on the platform.
"I feel like 3DS is really the best platform for the series."
"Right now, I feel like 3DS is really the best platform for the series," Masuda said.
"Perhaps if we were going to do something with completely different hardware interface, like mobile for example, the games may turn into something completely different — like the way you control for example."
With the release of Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, the generation-based remakes have reached the level of the Nintendo DS era, aka Pokémon Diamond and Pearl. The cycle of rebooting old games appears to be coming to a natural end, for now. Reviving those last two titles was a matter of timing, with Masuda citing the Nintendo 3DS' hardware as good of a reason as any to improve on Generation 3.
"If we can find something that would be a good reason to update previous games, we may go back and do remakes of them again," he said. "I don't want to say these are the final ones, of course."
Masuda, however, considers both new titles to be more than just remakes, thanks to new visuals and features. New to Ruby and Sapphire is the ability to super train your team, as introduced in Pokémon X and Y. Both games also include a new AreaNav, which allows players to easily fly to cities they've traveled to, and the DexNav.
During our hands-on time with the game, we used the DexNav to seek out new Pokémon. Once activated, the DexNav appears on the bottom screen of the Nintendo 3DS. Unknown Pokémon in a given area will appear as silhouettes waiting to be discovered, while those you've already encountered appear as a small icon.
"I often like to think of [Pokémon] as soccer, baseball or football."
Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire will also include the new story of the Mega and Primal Pokémon evolutions. It will be available before its November release date as an early demo that allows players to keep items and one special Pokémon when the game launches — a first for the series.
Gameplay in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire remains largely unchanged from the catch, battle, repeat formula most players have come to know, and according to Masuda and director Shigeru Ohmori, that's ok. Ohmori said his goal as game director of the project was to focus on recreating the feeling had playing the original Ruby and Sapphire games. Masuda added that Pokémon's formula continues to be successful because the original game was the first of its kind — a genre definer.
"I often like to think of [Pokémon] as soccer, baseball or football," Masuda said. "People come together, and they have these same rules that they're familiar with and know. They come back and really enjoy it."