Did Game Freak cancel an RPG for the PlayStation 4 in 2015?

There's a pretty interesting rumor going around the internet lately, confirming Game Freak has been looking to step out of Pokemon's shadow.

The prevailing theory is that Game Freak preferred to focus on Pokemon Sun and Moon instead.

Picture this: The year is 2016, and amidst the resounding success of Pokemon Sun and Moon for the Nintendo 3DS, the legendary gaming studio stealth launches an RPG for the PlayStation 4. Most would say that this never happened, except it did.

Most people think of Game Freak as a one-series studio. For the most part, this is true. The studio's name and its legacy are interwoven with Nintendo's beloved franchise, which most recently sold over 480 million units collectively. But, it's easy to forget that Game Freak technically isn't owned by Nintendo. This means that it has the freedom to make new games for other platforms, which it has in the past.

One eagle-eyed Twitter user, @bogorad222, pointed out that Game Freak attempted to work on a fresh IP for the PlayStation 4. Details about this game, gleaned from the LinkedIn profile of one of its designers, Masafumi Nukita, state that the project was active from August 2014 to January 2015. Alas, this ambitious undertaking never saw the light of the day.

The mysterious project remains a question mark to this day. What was it supposed to be? Did it ever make it out of the pre-production stage? If so, what happened? Did it fall short of Sony's quality standards? Or, did Game Freak just give up to focus on Pokemon Sun and Moon instead?

It's possible Game Freak just didn't have the resources available to work on the PS4-exclusive title. Nukita, in particular, moved directly from the unnamed project to Pokemon Sun and Moon after it was presumably canceled.

The Nintendo 3DS is one of the best-selling consoles of all time and the success of Pokemon games for the platform played a huge role in this.

Despite this setback, Game Freak continues to dip its toes into waters beyond Pokemon. It never went back to making an exclusive title for the PS4 but it has released other multi-platform and non-Nintendo titles since. Case in point, Little Town Hero, which graced both the PS4 and the Switch. More importantly, Game Freak hasn't given up on its aspirations of doing stuff outside of Pokemon.

The company is currently working with North American publisher, Private Division, which itself is a subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive, on an action-adventure game simply known as Project Bloom. The concept art for this game paints a scene closer to the likes of Monster Hunter or Ghost of Tsushima than Pokemon.

While this is undoubtedly exciting, some fans have expressed caution. Already, Game Freak is spreading itself thin after it struggled to launch Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in a polished state.

There's genuine concern that Game Freak might not be able to handle the simultaneous development of the next mainline Pokemon game and Project Bloom.

Until Game Freak comes out with AAA game that's good and not Pokemon, it will forever be stereotyped as the studio behind the best-selling Nintendo franchise.

Nevertheless, it's worth noting that Game Freak has a track record of taking care of its employees and letting them initiate their own projects. The canceled PS4 title might just be one of the many unseen games that never got the full green light.

For now, it's best to look forward to what lies ahead for Game Freak. After all, Pokemon might be the jewel in its crown, but it isn't the only gem in its treasure trove.

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5853

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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