I’ve gathered you all here before the release of Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 for the Nintendo DS system. Thank you for coming.
Thank you for inviting us.
I would like to jump right in by hearing how the idea for Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 came about. Ishihara-san, if you would, please.
Okay. I’m Ishihara from The Pokémon Company.1 Pokémon Diamond Version and Pokémon Pearl Version2 were followed by Pokémon Platinum Version3 and Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version4 were followed by Pokémon Emerald Version5, so we discussed what kind of product would come together after Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version.6 1: In addition to brand management of everything related to Pokémon, the company operates seven Pokémon Centers around Japan. Founded in 2000. Headquarters: Tokyo. 2 and : Videogames released for the Nintendo DS™ system in September 2006 in Japan. 3: A videogame released for the Nintendo DS system in September 2008 in Japan as the new version of and . 4 and : Videogames released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance system in November 2002 in Japan. 5: A videogame released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance system in September 2004 in Japan as the new version of and . 6: Videogames released for the Nintendo DS system in September 2010 in Japan.
Like a difference in colour – for example, “How about coming out with Pokémon Grey Version?”
Yes. But lots of players were expecting us to follow the same pattern, so for the first time we decided to try adding a “2” for a pleasant surprise.
Something else that’s different from the pattern so far is that you’re releasing two games. When I first heard that, I couldn’t help but say, “What? Two?”
That sort of surprise is what gives this product its newness. I’d like to have Masuda-san and Unno-san talk about what we aimed for in the sequels to Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version.
I’m Masuda from GAME FREAK7. As for why we’re releasing two, we thought of a game mechanic to include when we were developing Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, but we didn’t have enough time to do it. We needed two games for that, so this time we decided to make two. 7: The videogame developer responsible for the Pokémon series and other titles. Founded in 1989.
So that’s why you made two.
Yes. A little later, we thought of making them sequels. When you told me that if we were going to release something for the Nintendo DS system, we had to come up with something new, I was really worried. (laughs) Then I thought, “How about sequels?”
Direct sequels for games are nothing unusual, but we’d never taken that direction with Pokémon, so it was new.
Yes. And as for why we made it for the Nintendo DS system instead of Nintendo 3DS, we wanted to use the same . Both Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 are set two years later than the first two games.
It’s also two years later in the real world since Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version came out.
Yes. Then I appointed Unno-san to be director and he started the project.
Unno-san, would you please introduce yourself?
Sure. I’m Unno from GAME FREAK. I was the director of Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2. It’s nice to meet you.
It’s nice to meet you, too. How long have you been involved with Pokémon?
It’s been exactly ten years. I first worked on Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version. Since then, I’ve been involved with almost all of the main titles, such as Pokémon FireRed Version and Pokémon LeafGreen Version.8 8: Remakes of and with various new elements added. Released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance system in January 2004 in Japan.
After ten years, a big role came your way. Has it changed a lot?
Yes, quite a lot. I had experience as an art director, but this time I was in a position to offer instruction regarding the game’s fundamentals – while it was worthwhile, it was a struggle at first.
Masuda-san, why did you have Unno-san be the director?
I thought highly of his ability as art director, so I thought he would be able to further reinforce the visual sense of Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version. I thought if someone could lend support in planning, then we could leave the directorial part to Unno-san. He was all for it, so I asked him to do it.
So you pulled him out of his comfort zone to have him grow another step. Unno-san, when Masuda-san first assigned you, what did you think?
I was surprised, of course, but I had told Masuda-san before that I wanted to be director. Every time we made a game, I thought, “Next, I want to develop this kind of gameplay!” Even when we made Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, which were supposed to be a grand culmination of ideas, I thought, “There are still so many ways to expand this!”
At the time of Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, I thought it was amazing how many elements you had packed into the games for Nintendo DS, so this time, I couldn’t imagine how you could develop it much further. But this is how it turned out two years later.
Yes. We put a number of new gameplay ideas utilising communication features into Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, but this time we also challenged ourselves to develop new ideas that evolved the gameplay even further.
And having the story take place two years later was just right. Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version had a communication feature on the bottom screen called C-Gear, and it was easy to imagine how that would evolve two years on.
In other words, having those various elements – a solid foundation, with a clear direction for expanding it, the idea of setting the games two years later and the new style of making two sequels – may have made it easier to make progress.
Yes. The key word this time for Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 was “resonance”. In Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, you communicated with other players in a kind of “interference” – this time it’s resonance, so we adopted gameplay that broadens each other’s worlds instead.