Back to Basics. These are the words Pokemon designer Ken Sugimori used to describe his approach to creating Pokémon Black And White.
He may have a point. While anyone who has seen the main character cross Skyarrow Bridge on the way to Castelia City will know that this is a world away from the Kanto region of Pokémon Red and Blue, those who play the game will have that familiar feeling of catching 150-odd new Pokemon in the game's main story.
There is a lot more to Black and White than the new Pokémon, too. You've got triple battles, rotation battles, infrared communication, the Battle Subway and lots more. Yet when we had the opportunity to meet Game Freak's Ken Sugimori and Junichi Masuda at Game Freak HQ in Tokyo, we started by going back to basics and asking them about how they came to be working for the Pokemon Company, what makes Pokémon so popular and the initial inspiration for Black and White.
What follows is the first in a three part interview. Look out for part two tomorrow when Masuda and Sugimori will go into more detail on Black and White.
Let's start at the beginning. Could you tell us how you both came to be working for the Pokémon Company? We'd also like to know which is your favourite Pokémon from Black and White!
Junichi Masuda: I am a board member and director of game developing. I started to work on Pokémon from the very first game - Red and Blue. I was the director for Pokémon Black and White. I was engaged in the battle sound as well as composing for the videogame. My favourite Pokémon is Victini.
Ken: Sugimori: I'm also a board member as well as art director. As you may know, Mr Tajiri is the founder of Game Freak and I was a friend of Mr Tajiri when we were students. We played videogames together and that's how we started the company. For Black and White I was art director. I was in charge of supervising the graphic designers to create Pokémon. And I drew all the official art for Pokémon. My favourite is Zekrom.
Can you tell us more about Game Freak? What do the company hope to achieve with the Pokémon games?
Junichi Masuda: Our company is mainly focused on developing the videogames. Pokémon was founded by Mr Tajiri and the company itself was established on the idea Mr Tajiri came up with.
In 1996 the company created the first Pokémon game. It's based on a lot of characters including Pikachu, and these unique characters were born here at Game Freak.
Our basic philosophy is that a videogame is not just providing fun, but we also want consumers to be happy.
If someone is playing a videogame and someone is watching the other person playing, both of them will be happy. It's not just a videogame, it's a broader entertainment. I believe Pokémon is entertainment that can provide happiness to people all over the world.
Why do you think people like Pokémon as much as they do?
Ken Sugimori: It's easy to understand and diverse. The characters which are now used in the TV shows or movies are based on the characters for the videogame. [Depending on its] feature, ability or shape, if you look at that Pokémon you get an idea of what kind of Pokémon it is.