In traditional Pokemon games, you set off on a journey to become a Pokemon Master alongside a rival, with whom you’ll frequently battle as you make your way to the Pokemon League. That’s certainly still the case in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, but unlike your smug foe in the original Yellow version, your rival in the Switch games is much friendlier, offering you advice and even occasionally gifting you items when you run into each other.
This isn’t new for the series; while your rivals in Pokemon Red and Blue and their follow-ups, Gold and Silver, were straight-up jerks, all of them since have been much friendlier toward you–particularly Hau and Lillie from Pokemon Sun and Moon, both of whom would also frequently give you items to help you along. During our recent interview with Pokemon director Junichi Masuda, we asked why it seems like the series has been shying away from the meaner rivals of earlier games.
“I think the biggest reason that rivals were more of a jerk in the early days is that we were just limited in what we could express with the pixel graphics,” Masuda told GameSpot through an interpreter. “There’s not much that you can do with that kind of little sprite on the screen, so we worked harder to characterize them through dialogue and give them certain personalities.
“Also, because it’s just dialogue and there’s not a whole lot going on on the screen, it doesn’t give as harsh of an impression even if they’re jerks, I think. Now we have HD graphics and the visuals are much more impressive. If you also made him a jerk, the impression would be a lot stronger on players. Another thing, just my own personal take, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then.”
Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee launch for Nintendo Switch on November 16. We learned a lot of new details about the games recently, notably how you’ll be able to get the new Mythical Pokemon, Meltan. We also discussed a number of other topics in our interview with Masuda, including whether we’ll ever see Pikachu’s lost evolution, Gorochu. You can read more about the games in our new hands-on impressions of Let’s Go.