Ishihara-san, how was the process of turning Pokémon into 3D?
In turning it to 3D, I was able to get a clear grasp of aspects that I wasn’t very aware of before. For example, what I thought was a tail would turn out not to be, or I’d start to offer instructions about a whisker only to be told it was a horn! (laughs)
The Pokémon have always expressed the full diversity of the animal world, so modelling was pretty tough.
(heartfelt) Indeed it was!
Many video games around the world have a lot of characters, and they’re for the most part broken down, like this one is one of the main characters, this is a big boss, this is a middle boss, and this falls in the “Other” category. And the developers give each character a different amount of effort.
In this game, however, each player has his or her own favourite Pokémon, so you have to pour an equal amount of energy into all of the many Pokémon.
We can’t slack off on any of them.
It must be an insurmountable ordeal on the people who make them! (laughs)
It sure is! (laughs) But we’ve been doing that for years, so it’s basically standard procedure.
I’d also like to ask about the titles: Pokémon X and Pokémon Y.
In January this year, when we announced the first Pokémon Direct2 broadcast, a lot of rumours were flying around until the moment it was released, such as, “Is the new game going to be called Pokémon Rainbow?!” (laughs)2. First Pokémon Direct: The titles Pokémon X and Pokémon Y were revealed in the Pokémon Direct, which aired on January 8th, 2013.
Yeah, yeah, that’s right! (laughs)
I can remember like it was yesterday how strong the response was when we announced the actual titles, with people surprised and saying it was unexpected. Why did you decide to call them Pokémon X and Pokémon Y?
The X and Y represent the x-axis and the y-axis.
X is the horizontal axis and Y is the vertical axis.
Right. The world holds people with all sorts of ways of thinking, and you can get a sense that they exist in different dimensions. But if you think of them as people who think on the x-axis and people who think on the y-axis – horizontal and vertical axes – then they intersect somewhere.
Even if they think in contrary ways, they agree in places too.
Exactly. We may think differently, but we all live on the same planet, so everyone eats, sleeps and goes about their business day after day, just like everyone else.
So the theme this time is that even if languages, cultures and mindsets are different, even if the surrounding environments are different, they overlap somewhere.
Yes. We thought of that early on and then started building the surrounding world of these games.
But until now, the series titles have been colours, like Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version3, or gems like Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version4, so when you decided to suddenly go with single letters of the alphabet this time, weren’t some of the staff uneasy and wondering whether it would be all right?3. Pokémon Red Version and Pokémon Blue Version: The first games in the Pokémon series released for the Nintendo Game Boy system in Japan on February 27th, 1996. They were released in Europe on June 10th, 1999. Pokémon Blue Version was called Pokémon Green Version in Japan.4. Pokémon Ruby Version and Pokémon Sapphire Version: Games released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance system in Japan on November 21, 2002. They were released in Europe on July 25th, 2003.
Yes, they were.
I thought so! (laughs)
So we consulted a lot of people, like (Ken) Sugimori-san5, and eventually decided this route was simple and easy to understand. And while the pronunciation of the letter may change by country, the shape of the letter is the same the world over — for example, we say ekkusu for the letter X in Japanese, but in French they say ix — so in that way too, it was an appropriate way to name these games.5. Ken Sugimori: Executive Director, Game Freak Inc. He has been in charge of Pokémon character design since the first games up through the latest instalments. He appeared in the session of “Iwata Asks” for Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version.
They’re the perfect titles for games that are going to be released simultaneously around the world.
Yes. And the Legendary Pokémon named Xerneas and Yveltal appear this time. They were purposely designed so their silhouettes would resemble X and Y.
Did you put in that request to Sugimori-san?
I suspected that.
They’re Legendary Pokémon, so you don’t see them very often. But some people living in Kalos Region have seen them, so when they excitedly tell others and leave behind a tradition, we thought it would be interesting if they said things like, “It looked like an X!” or “It looked like a Y!”
There’s an oral tradition describing these Legendary Pokémon.
Ishihara-san, when consulted about using X and Y in the titles, what did you think?
I rather welcomed it. Because they’re the first main Pokémon games for a new hardware platform, Nintendo 3DS, I wanted to do something completely different. So I thought these titles were perfect.
You gave your approval right away?
You bet! (laughs)
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