The development of Game Freak and its capabilities are doubtful in recent years. It’s also because of Pokémon’s overall lack of polish over the past few years.
But that is not stopping the studio from pursuing projects and releasing other games. These games include Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On, which launched on Apple Arcade last week. “Even if resources are tight, we won’t stop making original games,” Taya reported.
While Game Freak produced several other titles throughout its history, it announced its hopes beyond developing Pokemon games.
The company has been around for over 30 years. At that time, Game Freak made a name for itself. Even more, they became popular primarily for developing the beloved Pokemon RPG franchise. Pokemon has been exclusive to Nintendo consoles ever since the release of Pokemon Red and Blue on the Game Boy.
Game Freak History
Before Game Freak developed video games, it was a self-published video game magazine created by Satoshi Tajiri. He was eventually joined by Ken Sugimori and Junichi Masuda in establishing Game Freak in 1989.
The company’s first title was a puzzle game, Mendel Palace, followed by several other titles for various Nintendo and Sega systems before Pokemon Red and Blue. Game Freak has continued to develop Pokemon games.
Since then, Game Freak continued the franchise into its 9th generation. The successful sales of Pokemon Scarlet and Violet continue the trend that the franchise has maintained since its inception.
Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On!
In an interview with VGC, Masao Taya, director of Game Freak’s original games, discussed Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On.
Taya discussed the company’s difficulties with developing for mobile. It would require a free-to-play model, and how the Apple Arcade model allows it to monetize the game. Of course, without adding microtransactions.
He also discussed the challenge of developing new, original titles alongside working on Pokemon games. Taya lamented the upcoming closure of the Nintendo 3DS eShop, which will render Game Freak titles like HarmoKnight and the original Pocket Card Jockey unavailable.
Pocket Card Jockey is one of the original games developed by Game Freak. It was first released in North America for Nintendo 3DS in 2016, where it won praise for its good humor and its card-based mechanics. It is based on Derby Stallion, a popular Japan-only horse-racing sim originally released on the NES.
Taya is a self-professed Derby Stallion fan, and he remembers “the thrill of seeing how the horses displayed in pixels of 16-dot squares behaved.” The experience remained with him even as he grew up and joined Game Freak, and he sought to recreate it with a game of his own.
“I spent time during several vacation days working on implementing a program like that. It went better than I thought, so I showed it to my co-workers and was content with that. I then decided to use that program to try and make a horse racing game. But I thought to myself if it was just a development-type simulation it would be nothing more than a rehash of Derby Stallion several years too late,” said Taya.
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