In a recent interview with GameSpot, Game Freak director Junichi Masuda explained why rival characters no longer act like jerks in the Pokémon games, specifically in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee.
“I think the biggest reason that rivals were more of a jerk in the early days is that we were just limited in what we could express with the pixel graphics,” Masuda told GameSpot through an interpreter. “There’s not much that you can do with that kind of little sprite on the screen, so we worked harder to characterize them through dialogue and give them certain personalities.
“Also, because it’s just dialogue and there’s not a whole lot going on on the screen, it doesn’t give as harsh of an impression even if they’re jerks, I think. Now we have HD graphics and the visuals are much more impressive. If you also made him a jerk, the impression would be a lot stronger on players. Another thing, just my own personal take, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then.”