If Pokémon director, Junichi Masuda, is nervous about Pokémon X and Y, he hides it well. Chatting to ONM on the eve of its release he seems ecstatic about players finally getting to grips with Game Freaks' 3DS adventure; when we finish questioning him he turns the table and starts quizzing us on what we made of the title, beaming with pride when we give it the thumbs up. With its visual overhaul and wealth of new features, how could we not?
ONM: For the five or so readers out there who don't know who you are, could you both introduce yourselves, please?
Junichi Masuda: I'm Junichi Masuda. I'm head of development at Game Freak and was the director on Pokémon X and Y.
Hironobu Yoshida: I'm Hironobu Yoshida, also from Game Freak. I am a graphic designer and I led the team behind the user interface on Pokémon X and Y.
ONM: Cast your minds back to the first day you started thinking about Pokémon X and Y. What was the first big decision you made regarding what you wanted to achieve?
JM: Around the time Black and White were ending development and before the games had been released I started noting down new ideas.
I really wanted to make the next game focus on 'beauty', I wanted to make the most beautiful games possible and I also wanted to focus more on society, showing how people lived in the world. One other thing I realised at the very beginning was that I wanted to be able to reach out and pet the Pokémon.
ONM: Obviously, the Pokémon on the cover are the first that most people see. What was the inspiration behind your two cover stars? Is there any significance to their names?
JM: With Xerneas and Yveltal I had an image of what they would look like. I wanted these two to represent the themes of X and Y. In X, the theme we want to convey is that of 'the eternal' and in Y it's that of destruction. I also knew what types I wanted the Pokémon to be and that I wanted one to be a quadruped and one to fly.
I conveyed these ideas to the graphic designers and had them come up with some Pokémon. Each Pokémon has meaning behind its name, but the focus with these two was on having 'X' and 'Y' at the beginning of their names. We took that as the starting point.
ONM: Along the same lines, how long does it take to design and pick the starter Pokémon? Do you have an idea of what you want or is there a lot of trial and error?
HY: It took about a year to finalise the designs of the starter Pokémon. In the beginning we have the restriction of Fire, Grass and Water types, but within that we didn't know what kind of creatures to take inspiration from. The idea of taking inspiration from a frog, fox and hedgehog didn't come about until a bit later.
We knew that France was going to be the inspiration for the Kalos region, though, so we looked at what kinds of animals appeared in Europe, for example.
Also, what we wanted to do with the final evolutions was to remind people, or give them the image, of creatures that might appear in a European role-playing game. I think the fans are going to enjoy them.