Keeping up with a successful title is a daunting task for any developer, but it’s especially true for a series as popular as Pokemon. Pokemon director Junichi Masuda recently revealed to game informant that the first Game Boy Advance installments in the series, Ruby and Sapphire, were actually the most difficult Pokemon titles to create.

Part of the reason Ruby and Sapphire gave Game Freak such a problem was due to the Game Boy Advance’s hardware being more powerful than the developers were used to. “With Ruby and Sapphire, the screen became a bit longer and the aspect ratio was different, [and it had] a lot more colors and sound channels, so the technology has been vastly improved,” Masuda said. “It allowed us to do a lot more and gave us more freedom, but at the same time it took a lot longer to do things and was more resource intensive.”

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Now Playing: E3 2014: Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire trailer at Nintendo’s press conference

The biggest challenge, according to Masuda, has been following the success of the series’ first full sequels, Pokemon Gold and Silver, which arrived at the height of the Pokemon phenomenon. After their release, however, many felt the series had run its course. “After the gold and silver came out, it was a huge hit around the world, but soon after everyone was like, ‘This is it. Pokemon fashion is over! It’s dead !'” Masuda said. “At the time, the atmosphere and general thinking was that the Pokemon fad was over and there was tremendous pressure to prove people wrong.”

Masuda revealed that he was so stressed during the development of the games that he was hospitalized at one point. “I was really stressed and had to go to hospital and had stomach issues and had to have a camera inserted and they didn’t know what it was – very stressful,” Masuda said. “The night before the release, I dreamed that it was a complete failure, a total nightmare.”

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire was originally released in the United States in 2003. The games would be remade a decade later for 3DS as Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. Along with improved visuals, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire built on the original games with a number of new elements, including Mega Evolution, new story scenarios, and more.

The next episodes of the Pokemon series, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, are scheduled to arrive on November 17. Like Sun and Moon before them, the pair are set in the Alola region but tell an “alternate story”. Players who purchase either title before January 10, 2018 will receive a free bonus: a special Rockruff that can evolve into the brand new Dusk Form Lycanroc.

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