Masuda-san, earlier you said that there was a game mechanic that didn’t fit into Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version. What was that?
When you completed the game, you would get a sort of key. It was a mechanic by which you could unlock the other game. Then, because of that, when you played the second one, you would get a different experience.
By getting the key, your motivation for and experience in playing the game change.
Yes. We wanted to make a mechanic whereby after you played one game, you could play the other in a deeper way, such as with slightly stronger Pokémon appearing.
For example, if someone just can’t seem to complete the game, someone who is better at it could say, “I’ll help you out,” and use the key to change that world. The game world of Pokémon opening up that way fits the keyword of resonance perfectly. I had heard of that specification before the word resonance came up, though.
So just when you were thinking about making the theme resonance, you realised that the task Masuda-san had set fit that perfectly.
Yes, it was too good to be true. (laughs)
After Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, I think everyone on the staff was certain that we could develop the gameplay further. So when I had them plan it out, they came up with ideas extremely quickly.
Just like you couldn’t use the game mechanic that you had thought of, everyone thought that there were lots of elements and ideas left over unused in the foundation laid by Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, and that had been building up in the staff as a starting pool of energy.
Yes. Also, I think the word resonance attracted them like a magnet.
And the story for Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version left a lot of mysteries, so I suppose those making it wanted to supply answers, like, “I wonder what happened to that one guy later?”
But when making Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, you weren’t thinking about using anything leftover in a sequel, right?
Well, I did purposely leave some unknowns.
But luckily, we got to use them this time in the sequels.
Stories don’t always solve every mystery, but I suppose that as game makers you just can’t let them go. Unno-san, from your point of view, what was challenging aside from the Funfest Missions?
With regard to resonance and expanding the game world, it was , in which you make Pokémon movies. It was an idea that came from the whole planning staff but as a graphic designer, I had always wanted to broaden the game world of Pokémon in the main game with something aside from collecting Pokémon, battling, communicating and trading.
Up until now, like in Pokémon Snap15, there have been new attractions outside the main game, but you wanted to put an element like that in the main game. 15: A camera-action game released for the Nintendo 64 system in March 1999. Satoru Iwata was involved in its development.
Right. If the game world were a movie, anything would be possible, so I thought I could broaden the game world.
What do you mean by “anything would be possible”?
Like a space fantasy that wouldn’t usually be possible in Unova Region.
A space fantasy in Pokémon? (laughs)
Romance in Pokémon?! (laughs)
Yes! (laughs) But I wasn’t sure how far I could go. There is, of course, the overall universe that The Pokémon Company has preserved and GAME FREAK treasures certain things, so when I submitted the proposal, I was pretty nervous.
The first page of the specifications had Pokémon with an Adamski-style UFO! I was like, “What’s this?!” (laughs) Editor’s note: ‘Adamski-style UFO’ refers to the type of alien spaceship seen in the famous photographs taken by George Adamski on December 13, 1952.
But if you looked closely, the UFO was hanging from a thread! That was really interesting, and it looked like the possibilities were endless, so I let them do whatever they wanted.
But you needed to really work some things out to actually make it playable.
Yes. They really thought hard about what kind of gameplay to have. The movies have options for the plots and if you don’t know the type of Pokémon, the plot doesn’t move forward well.
So that way, if you’re playing and have a lot of knowledge about the Pokémon type, it comes in handy in the game.
Yes. Those who are more knowledgeable will be able to film more smoothly – so knowledge comes in handy – and those who don’t know much will learn.
We’d actually had a problem before in duels with how the Pokémon series was becoming more and more for hardcore players only. You have to remember the Pokémon and move types, so some were of the opinion that battles were difficult to understand. Something we discussed was how we could have people playing for the first time learn the essentials.
Over time, the battles get complicated, so you have to remember more.
Yes. Then when we were thinking about the Pokéstar Studios plan, we thought that if selecting the wrong lines or moves when making a movie would result in a different ending or audience evaluation, then you would naturally learn the mechanics of Pokémon, and the ideas came together. So when you play Pokéstar Studios, before you know it, you naturally learn the enjoyment and depth of battles.
When something fun you think of and a separate problem snap together, things change. That’s just like what Miyamoto-san says about an idea being something which solves multiple issues at once.16 16These words came up in a discussion titled “The Definition of Idea” between Shigesato Itoi of Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun and Satoru Iwata.
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