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Pokémon Black and White: 'We've gone back to basics'

Junichi Masuda and Ken Sugimori talk about the origins of Black & White in part one of our exclusive interview

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!

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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.

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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.

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  1. DSR3 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:37

    Good Interview so far, I am looking forward to the next part. But you put the wrong date up it comes out on the 4th of March.

  2. Gamesman2000 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:40

    you said it was released on the 25th march

  3. Tomraven Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:42

    R.E. The last para, I thought they were out on Friday 4th March... Do you have 3DS on the brain? xD

  4. TechnoWolf Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:43

    I really don't see the point of buying the magazine if you are just going to release it online. ¬_¬

  5. jimmyduckegg Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:44

    I look forward to reading more, interesting to read.... but seriously, he likes Zekrom the best... pfft, Reshiram all the way!

  6. jolteon Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:46

    Cool interview I can't wait for the second part!

    One note though: At the end of the interview you say Pokemon black and white will be released in the UK on the Friday the 25th of March.
    But I hope you mean on the 4th of March!

  7. Gamesman2000 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:47

    Reshiram all the way!

    :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

  8. Jgiron455 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 16:59

    This kinda of job is pretty cool.!!!!
    I wanna talk to the creators of Pokemon and other games too. So cool!!! (Im not good at writing Essay though TT_TT )

  9. tomonm Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 17:02

    R.E. The last para, I thought they were out on Friday 4th March... Do you have 3DS on the brain? xD

    Yes I have 3DS on the brain. Anyway, it has been fixed!

  10. fisher2007 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 17:31

    Reshiram all the way!

    Reshiram My favorite new one and i can't wait for pokemon black gonna get it friday.

  11. omza Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 18:02

    The news title says it all. They seriously have gone back to basics. I honestly think that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver practically had the formula perfect! Sure, some changes here and there, but taking away some much welcomed features (such as sprint lock, or the ability to play the whole game with just the D-Pad and touch screen) upsets me. I wasn't at all pleased with the demo available at the Celebi event, and I don't mean to be such a whiner, but WHY WOUD YOU RUIN IT?!

  12. Ningamer Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 18:11

    The news title says it all. They seriously have gone back to basics. I honestly think that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver practically had the formula perfect! Sure, some changes here and there, but taking away some much welcomed features (such as sprint lock, or the ability to play the whole game with just the D-Pad and touch screen) upsets me. I wasn't at all pleased with the demo available at the Celebi event, and I don't mean to be such a whiner, but WHY WOUD YOU RUIN IT?!


    I wouldn't judge the games based on the demo. I imported my copy a while back and the demo really doesn't do it justice - The full games are actually very good, there's loads to do and I really think they've improved over the near-perfection of HG/SS. The demo didn't really show off any of the better features of the games, all it showed that was new were the battle animations and a select few Pokémon, which are pretty good, but there's so much more than that.

  13. Everegreen Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 18:13

    The news title says it all. They seriously have gone back to basics. I honestly think that Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver practically had the formula perfect! Sure, some changes here and there, but taking away some much welcomed features (such as sprint lock, or the ability to play the whole game with just the D-Pad and touch screen) upsets me. I wasn't at all pleased with the demo available at the Celebi event, and I don't mean to be such a whiner, but WHY WOUD YOU RUIN IT?!

    I agree what you're saying about some features have been taken away (I can't believe they have taken sprint lock away, in my opinion that was one of the best new features!), but it is probably to keep the game fresh. I have a list in my head of what would be my ideal Pokemon game, and a few are sprint lock, having a Pokemon follow you, and the ability to have different and multiple Key items - I can't believe these features have been taken away! I'm sure that people will forget soon enough though, and realise these games for what they are - brilliant (apparently) games, and people shouldn't look back at HG/SS and wonder why have they taken some of the features away.

  14. RubbishGamer Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 18:23

    How can Black and White go back to basics if Pokemon basically hasn't changed? I mean, what's to go back to?

  15. Waldy565 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 18:33

    I really don't see the point of buying the magazine if you are just going to release it online. ¬_¬

    yeh, i mean, there were SOME new things :P

  16. Ai64 Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 19:12

    Great interview. Bring on the second part. ^^

  17. Frostedfirefly Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 20:05

    Pokemon White pre -ordered for me. Anyway I've loved Gamefreak's Pokemon games for years but I am getting sick of the fact that they're not actually putting in fresh Pokemon ideas and re-using animals and other Pokemon. I mean when I saw, Pidove, it looked no different to Starly as well as its similar bird shape. The deer Pokemon already exists yet they have another and same goes for the piranah Pokemon it gets pretty lazy since I'm sure I can even think of animals that HAVEN'T been used yet! Tell them this ONM: Don't just limit your animals to the zoo, try looking for them on nature programs for example. You haven't even tried doing a mosquito Pokemon for example! Badger, Dolphin, Porcupine, MORE DINOSAURS, Lama, Panda, Stick insect, Koala, Tasmanian devil, Wood louse, Guppy, Gerbil, Water snake, Wood pecker. Those were animals that could of been used but excuse me if some already have. Some people might agree but that depends...
    Anyway! Still looks like an awesome game though

  18. imbusydoctorwho Tuesday 1st Mar 2011 at 22:59

    Nice to see they are going back to basics.
    But Pokemon is the same as it's always been.
    But I'll look forward to playing it anyway.

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