Game Freak’s highly unpopular decision to limit Pokémon Sword and Shield’s Pokedex spawned a rumor that the studio was reusing models from recent 3DS games, making it too much trouble to include older models. But an interview in Famitsu, recently surfaced on social media and the Pokémon subreddit, specifically refutes this.
Somehow, this wasn’t noticed (and Game Freak didn’t repeat these explanations in their response two weeks ago), but developers rebuilt from scratch all of the models for Pokémon Sword and Shield, meaning the reused-assets rumor is bunk.
According to a translation (last month) of the interview (also last month) Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori said that it was difficult enough bringing in a full Pokédex (now numbering 809) into 2016’s Pokémon Sun and Moon. The Switch’s improved graphics and visual fidelity has since lengthened the development time necessary to render Pokémon, they explained, so the decision to limit a game’s Pokédex would have been made sooner or later. It was made with Sword and Shield, so everyone’s getting this out of their system now.
A couple of finer points on this to remember: developments like Mega Evolution and Dynamax, which affect all Pokémon, have considerable effect on development, balancing and artwork, to give a sense of what Game Freak is staggering under after 20 years of games.
And further, the Pokémon Home storage system will be able to highlight Pokémon in future games even if they’re left out of Sword and Shield. That said, it’s uncertain whether Pokémon will be added to the games in post-release updates.