In the original Pokemon Red and Blue games, rivals were straight-up jerks to players. But this is no longer the case in recent games, including Pokemon Let’s GO Pikachu/Eevee, where rivals are friendlier and might even give you advice.
In a GameSpot interview, Game Freak director Junichi Masuda explained that in the good old days, it was hard to express characters through pixel graphics and sprites, so they had to compensate for that in the form of certain personalities and dialogue.
Masuda added as players couldn’t see much on the screen other than dialogue, it wouldn’t leave a very harsh impression on them. But if they were to do this with the latest games where characters can be expressed through elaborate HD graphics and animations, the “impression would be a lot stronger” on players. He also felt rivals with mean personalities “aren’t as accepted by players as back then”.
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