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Does Pokémon have “indie roots”?

Battista

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This is a carryover post from Serebii forums. I’m moving some of my stuff from there over here, particularly the things I think will prompt worthwhile discussion. Hopefully the introductory post will clear up some confusion about the question I'm asking...

Is Pokemon an indie game series? Absolutely not. Nintendo's involvement and the marketing from the earliest of days make that pretty clear.

Is Game Freak an indie company? It's hard to argue that they are, again due to Nintendo's involvement as well as the fact that "indie" wasn't really a thing back then.

But I have noticed a lot more people talking about Game Freak's development strategy resembling that of a smaller "indie-esque" company, specifically in the making of the main series games of Generations 1 and 8. Regardless of one's thoughts on Sword/Shield's development cycle, both the most recent and the earliest games in the main series exhibit a sort of "rough around the edges" feel. For Sword/Shield, some of that feel could be attributed to the fact that the team for those games were relatively small while the other half of the company was working on Little Town Hero.

I probably wouldn't have given it too much thought except I've been seeing more the history of Game Freak as a company. Originally they were a video game fanzine that eventually expanded into game development. The concept of "indie studios" didn't really exist at the time, but a company with such humble beginnings evokes that idea to me at least.

I'm not entirely sure if this has any implications for the future even, but with the 25th anniversary coming up it was fun to look at this stuff. I hope it is for you too. Also "if I ran the Pokemon Company", I'd probably outsource a game or two to the indie company who made that Bug Fables game :)
 

Daren

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An interesting point of discussion, and I believe I see what you mean.

I'd even argue some of the games have a kind of "indie" feel.

It's obvious with Sw/Sh because standards like voice acting are missing, but even earlier games never quite felt the same as something like Zelda or Dragon Quest.
For instance R/B were very ambitious but buggy and fairly unpolished--not uncommon for small studio releases where the budget isn't super high and they can afford to be experimental, while D/P were criticized at the time for feeling like a test run before Platinum smoothed out the edges.
Similarly, B/W's idea of removing the entire cast until the post-game for a series not known for that kind of action seem more reminiscent of a small company to me than a large one--large ones are often somewhat risk averse with their major releases.
 

Daren

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I mean, if that's how it works SquareEnix is in a lot of trouble since Dragon Quest was based off Wizardry.
 

Poke Dragon

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Pokemon's popularity was unexpected at the time of Gold/Silver/Crystal even to the developers (who were a very small team at the time, with only some lucky help from Iwata to squeeze Kanto with Johto). So yeah, it does have some indie roots as indie games typically aren't expected to be as popular as big, established franchises when first created, some became like that due to grabbing people's interest in an original concept, some even do not become popular until well after their release. At the time, Mario and Zelda were already cemented as big games since they started long before the Game Boy was released. Pokemon on the other hand made its debut in the 90's, which is why it was unexpected at the time because one-off games by established developers were very common during both the 80's and 90's due to the experimental nature of earlier systems. And this is not even mentioning other RPGs that were released before the Game Boy either.

So really, Pokemon had tough competition from the start with its future uncertain after the first entry, heck even the Anime had a planned ending before the said ending was scrapped to allow it to support Pokemon after Gen 2.
 
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Jukain726

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I honestly don't really have a sense of what makes a game "complete". If there are things that one can think another game does better, that's a preference really. It is well known, however, that the first gen had a lot of flaws, at least in what it was intended to do. It is possible to play the game and either ignore the flaws or not encounter them at all. In other words, I only consider something to really be wrong if it causes the game to be unable to function for any intention. The first gen does have things that can mess up even a casual playthrough, but some of them can be overlooked. If Sword and Shield has flaws, it's that some of those flaws have persisted since then. (So then the entire main series is flawed) Most of the complaints I have seen amount to either comparing them to other games, which again, is a preference, or they see things they want to be there, which is still a preference. Gamefreak has said, however, that they were unable to do everything they wanted in the time given. This has happened to even studios with more money or resources.

I have seen "indie" games that as far as I could tell, were no better than other games I've played. The only real common threads I see are the gameplay type; or genre. Even within one genre, one can see different games that are successful and have differing graphics and different mechanisms. As for innovation, that can be had from any developer, and "indie" studios are no more capable in this arena than mainstream ones. (I do not find innovation to really be measurable)

In short, the distinction has no meaning to me.
 
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