Game Freak, the developer of the overwhelmingly successful Pokémon franchise, has filed a videogame trademark for “Little Town Hero,” as well as the Japanese translation リトルタウンヒーロ. This is suspected to be the final name for Town, an original RPG revealed at E3 this year about fighting monsters in a small fantasy town for the Nintendo Switch. Game Freak has been using Town as a working title.
Town has been the target of a fair bit of controversy in recent weeks, specifically surrounding the development of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Game Freak developer Masayuki Onoue revealed recently that Game Freak has essentially split into two teams, one of which is focused on the upcoming Pokémon titles while the other focuses on Town, which seems to be the developer’s primary focus.
Game Freak shifting its focus from Pokémon doesn’t come as a huge surprise; since opening in 1989, the studio has worked almost exclusively on Pokémon titles since Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green released in Japan in 1996. Lately, however, following the success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo’s vision of the franchise seems to be moving towards mobile platforms, with games like Pokémon Quest, Pokémon: Magikarp Jump, and the coming Pokémon Masters all following in the footsteps of Niantic’s Go release in 2016. It’s reasonable, then, that Game Freak would be splitting their focus and setting up alternative projects in case they lose control of Pokémon; the unfortunate side effects of this decision being, of course, a distinct lack of man-power on the development of Sword and Shield.
News broke in June that the newest Pokémon games would not feature a National Pokédex, a staple of all prior games tying all previously created Pokémon into the newer series installments. This didn’t sit well with fans, and outrage followed quickly, even sparking the hashtag #BringBackNationalDex and causing some gamers to call for a boycott of the new games. Hearing that Town, a brand-new, unproven IP, was taking Game Freak’s attention away from their beloved Pokémon franchise simply stoked the fire. Gamers have now been calling for a boycott of Town, asking their fellow Pokémon fans to “vote with their wallets” to show Game Freak how they feel about this decision.
It is, of course, tough to say whether any of this will affect Game Freak in any meaningful way. The internet isn’t known for having the longest memory, so it’s entirely possible that this could all blow over by the time Pokémon and Town come out later this year.
What’s your take on the Town and Pokémon controversy? Will you be playing either game when they drop for the Nintendo Switch this holiday? Let us know in the comments below!