The developers of Pokemon have revealed the reasons behind a very visual shift in Pokemon design.
Earlier this year, a fan on Reddit pointed out how the eye shapes of Pokemon had shifted from polygonal shapes to more circular shapes over time. It was suggested that this shift in eye shapes might be one of the reasons so many fans of the original Pokemon games seem to reject newer Pokemon as having inferior designs.
During a lengthy interview and tour of the Game Freak facilities, Game Informer asked Junichi Masuda, one of the main leads of the Pokemon franchise, why this shift occurred. His explanation was a bit surprising, but makes a lot of sense. "It’s definitely conscious of the evolving design, but some of the reason behind that, for example, is in the beginning, the Game Boy had a really limited palette and a very small amount of pixels to express the designs," Masuda said.
"It was hard to make circles so that was one reason a lot of them had a similar look," Masuda continued. "As the technology evolved we had more options for expression with different shapes and more variety, so I think we’ve focused on trying to have a lot of variety in the eyes, for example."
Of course, shifting to the rounder design also had an impact on how a lot of those Pokemon were perceived. While the rounder eyes are associated more with "cuter" Pokemon, the polygonal eye shapes of Mewtwo or Charizard are associated with the tougher Pokemon of the franchise.
So, Pokemon fans were correct in that the franchise did make a conscious decision to shift eye shapes over the year, but they were wrong in that it was done to make the franchise more appealing to younger fans. Improvements in technology have done a lot for the Pokemon franchise, including change how Pokemon are designed.