There have been so many Pokemon games over the years with so many different features, functions, Pokemon, and content that it seems like it would be tough to pinpoint exactly which game gave the developers the toughest time to make. Well, the game director at Game Freak knows exactly the two Pokemon titles that were the most difficult to develop, but not for the reasons you think.
According to Game Informer, Game Freak co-founder and game director, Junichi Masuda, made it quite clear that Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire were the two most difficult games to make. Why? Because of hype. Masuda states...
Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver came out back in late 1999 for the Game Boy Color. It was a huge step up from the previous games and it marked a significant step forward in the game's presentation.
Pokemon Gold and Silver sold over 23 million units over the course of its lifetime on the market, so, obviously, there was a lot of pressure for Game Freak to step up its game and do better.
The crazy part about it was that it wasn't just about following up on the huge Game Boy Color successes, it was also a mixture of taking on the challenge of utilizing the Game Boy Advance's new higher-end tech, and competing with a far more nefarious opponent: Star Wars.
According to Masuda, he thought that the Pokemon brand was on a downward trend because, at the time, Star Wars: Episode 1 was big business, and he noticed that the toys for Pokemon were being cleared out and replaced with Star Wars stuff, and that the merchandise was no longer as ubiquitous as it once was during the 1990s.
The stress of failing actually caused him to become briefly hospitalized, but the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with him.
Eventually he got his stuff together and Game Freak went back to work on Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, working on issues like filling out the slightly larger Game Boy Advance screen, as well as utilizing more sound channels and colors to help make the game pop.
The team managed to get Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire up and out for Nintendo's handheld device in late 2002, and managed to sell several million copies across each of the regions the two titles released in.
In some ways, Masuda's fears did come true and the sales were not as high as Pokemon Gold and Silver, and the brand lost a lot of interest during the height of things like Yu-Gi-Oh, Beyblade, Digimon and Medabots eating into market share. However, the Pokemon series has been resilient, and sales have greatly rebounded thanks to a resurgence in popularity with mobile titles like Pokemon Go and the huge success of the Nintendo 3DS titles Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon.