from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero.

Game Freak is one of Nintendo’s key partners. The success of Pokémon has made the company founded and chaired by Satoshi Tajiri in one of the most relevant in the world. And despite this, his legacy beyond Pikachu and company has been (and is) much more discreet. How is it possible?

Being fair, even though Pokemon is – by far – the star license of Game Freak, the company is constantly producing new titles and forging alliances beyond those that The Pokémon Company procures you.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

Most of the time with the Big N, of course, but also with companies like Sony, SEGA, Nis America or Rising Star Games.

In fact, the history of the company that started yellow fever does not begin with the well-known Pocket Monsters and the fulfilled dream of the very young Dr. Insecto, but the publication Game Freak, a fanzine that Tajiri himself began to publish in the 80s and that, as an added curiosity, illustrated the very Ken Sugimori.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

Precisely, Game Freak was the pseudonym that himself Satoshi Tajiri used both in his fanzine and in other publications in which he participated. And, later, it will become the name of the humble developer that would be created in April 1989. Seen in perspective, only ten years before the Pokémon phenomenon conquered the globe.

The best? Neither Tajiri nor Sugimori wasted their time, as barely three months after founding Game Freak Co., Ltd. His first game would arrive, it would reach the Japanese shelves: Quinty. The following year, the same game would be published in the West as Mendel Palace.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

From Mendel Palace to the Pokémon bombshell

Today we have associated the image of Game Freak with colorful RPG sagas, but the truth is that the origins of the company refer us to titles focused on exploring logic through puzzles and platforms. And, for a sample, his debut film: Mendel Palace.

Published by Namco in Japan and Hudson Soft in the United States, Mendel Palace offers arcade mechanics and top-down gameplay for levels that are solved with more skill than skill.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

A first contact with the industry that served to gain the trust of Nintendo and a titan about to emerge.

By 1991 Game Freak put three projects on the shelves: from the hand of the entertainment divisions of a Sony that already flirted with the Big N it was launched Smart Ball, a platform whose protagonist was almost as generic as the owner itself but which contributed certain interesting elements to the traditional formulas.

However, the other two projects could be considered the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship: Yoshi, the co-star of Super mario world, would have its own video game on the NES and Game Boy, and Game Freak would be responsible for shaping both through Mario & Yoshi, a puzzle and logic game with all the charm of Nintendo characters.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

A year later, SEGA signed Game Freak to give their Mega Drive a platform adventure. The answer was Magical Taluluto and, despite its flaws, its artistic and visual section was a pleasant surprise.

For the next two years, Game Freak focused on delivering exceptional puzzles for Nintendo systems and establishing itself in the platformer genre. Special mention, by the nintenderos systems, to a Mario & Wario that made use of the forgotten SNES mouse.

However, his best title of the pre-Pikachu stage would be for SEGA’s 16-bit: Pulseman, borrows elements from Capcom’s Mega Man and other side-scrolling classics and combines them to shape a title that deserved more prominence in that intense 1994.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

Finally, in early 1996, Game Freak would take off. Satoshi Tajiri was inspired by his youthful adventures to create an RPG in which to explore a world full of fascinating creatures. The formula of Pokémon Red Version Y Pokémon Green Version (unpublished in Spain) was, perhaps, too traditional. Even for Game Boy.

The charisma of those pocket monsters, however, it had a devastating impact. And, in turn, a legacy that lasts to this day.

Beyond The Pokémon Company

Pokémon became a phenomenon in Japan, and Nintendo knew how to stimulate the success of Pikachu wrapping the experience with sleeves, an anime series that lasts to this day and a very rare commercial deployment.

Thus, in 1998 and with a view to the western launch of the Pokémon brand – with games as the main engines of the phenomenon – the Big N formalized an unprecedented agreement with Game Freak: together with Creatures, what today comes to be The Pokémon Company, a company dedicated to the Pokémon brand and its constant expansion.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

That same year, Game Freak will further strengthen its ties with Nintendo by releasing the full-color review of Pokémon. (Pokémon Yellow Version), beginning the development of the sequels and collaborating with the most avant-garde Game Boy project: none other than the Game Boy Camera.

That did not mean, far from it, that Game Freak was integrated into Nintendo. In fact, in 1999 he created and published with Sony and for the first PlayStation the title Click Medic, an RPG that took full advantage of 32-bit digital technology.

For the next six years, Game Freak focused on developing new Pokémon games. Some of them were revisions, others were remakes and, logically, fans were offered the third generation and the definitive consolidation of what we know today as the Pokémon formula: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

We would have to wait until 2005 to see a new project on Game Boy Advance. Drill Dozer I bet on the action and the side scrolling platforms adding the sensation of vibration. An extra that on the 32-bit laptop was only seen in the Game Freak game and in WarioWare: Twisted !.

Unfortunately, Drill Dozer It was an exceptional hiatus: new Pokémon installments and experiences ended up being the priority of Game Freak and Nintendo. And reasons were not lacking for both to give it to him.

Starting in 2012, Game Freak would accompany the new Pokémon installments with other light and casual titles. TO Pokemon Black and White 2 He was accompanied by HarmoKnight, a bet that combined the colorful adventures, the musical rhythms and the possibilities of Nintendo 3DS.

And along with Pokémon X and Y, released in 2013 for Nintendo 3DS, we will see a curious Pocket Card Jockey that combines puzzles with horse racing. A true curiosity in the good and not so good sense of the expression.

As we commented, Game Freak’s first priority is Pokémon. And the margins for creating new initiatives are narrow. Above all, considering that the company launches at least one title or project related to Pikachu and company per year and supervises – along with The Pokémon Company– everything related to that world of pocket creatures.

Which does not mean that we continue to see new initiatives that must be taken into account.

The current legacy of Game Freak

We are in 2015 and The Pokémon Company In full, it is closing the preparations to commemorate the following year the 20 years of Pokémon with an unprecedented deployment. In the middle of this delicate process, SEGA shows off its new platforms with Game Freak. Breaking like an elephant into a china shop.

Tembo the Badass Elephant retained the charm of the classics, the visual style of James turner (key artist on Game Freak) and the fascinating finish resulting from fusing handcrafted drawings into highly destructible 2.5D sets.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

A hit on the table and a tribute to the legacy of the creators of Pikachu on SEGA consoles.

Two years later, and after a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Pokémon that would last a whole year, Game Freak would continue combining action, platforms and destruction in Giga Wrecker for PC and its later improved and expanded version for PS4, Xbox and Nintendo Switch consoles.

In fact, Giga Wrecker Alt It would be the third of the projects that Game Freak would launch in a crucial 2019 for the company. In addition to Pokémon Sword and Shield Version, the team of Satoshi Tajiri released a second RPG that retained known elements and represented a blank canvas in terms of content and designs: Little Town Hero.

Logically, the impact of Little town hero was completely overshadowed by the instant success of the eighth generation of a Pokémon whose acceptance divided the fans of the saga themselves and which, incidentally, continues to expand this year.

from Mendel Palace and Mario & Yoshi to Little Town Hero

Seen in perspective, although we can say that Game Freak is completely committed to the Pokémon saga, it would be unfair to say that it has been dedicated exclusively to it. Experiences that deserved more prominence? Well, it should be remembered that each new project is presented as the next game from the creators of Pokémon. An extra claim that -on the other hand- not all games have.

And despite matching the success and charisma of Pikachu, Charmander, Bulbasaur and Squirtle It is a titanic task (that others have tried to match) we are sure that in the future we will continue to see new ideas and experiences born between generations of the well-known pocket monsters.