After 20 years from the arrival in the west of Pokémon Red and Blue we will return once again to that of Kanto.
Pokémon Let’s Go has introduced many changes, with some of them turning out to be more popular as we approach the release than others, but there is still the latent feeling that with only the first generation of Pokémon available in the first region alone a feeling of already seen to be inevitable.
A few weeks ago, along with an extensive preview of Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, we discussed with Junichi Masuda, executive director and head of development at the main Pokémon studio, Game Freak, and with designer, Kensaku Nabana, about the essential details fans want to know, including the idea behind Meltan’s reveal, the HMs, and those ongoing issues regarding difficulty, open world and the future of the series.
SamaGame: It’s been 20 years since the launch of Pokémon Red and Blue in the west (19 in Europe) so first of all congratulations. Was this anniversary one of the main reasons that prompted you to decide to set Let’s Go in the Kanto region as a reinterpretation of Pokémon Yellow?
Junichi Masuda: It is actually more the fact that one of the main targets of the game are children who have not had the opportunity to play Pokémon Go because they may not have a smartphone and we thought that of all the games in the history of Pokémon that easier for kids to identify with was Pokémon Yellow. There is Pikachu as a key feature in these games and there is Team Rocket, which also appeared quite a lot in the anime and so if we revisit this game and revisit Pikachu for the modern audience we thought that Pokémon Yellow would be the simplest in. to identify with, the simplest to understand. Only later did we notice that it would also be the twentieth anniversary of the games launch and so we thought “Oh great!
In those days there was obviously pixel art, all in black and white and monochrome but with the new games there is obviously television which is one of the main ways of fruition. You look all in all closely by looking at these high quality graphics so we wanted people to experience the difference between the former, very simple pixel art and the new graphics visible on a large TV screen.
SamaGame: So would you say this is the definitive version of Kanto? Is it close to what you or Game Freak imagined when you were first creating it years ago?
Junichi Masuda:This time of course we are making a title that, as mentioned previously, will be played a lot in the living room, on a large television. The setting of the story is the Kanto region (a region of Japan) which is known or is strongly associated with summer or a strong summer vibe. This is something we were always aware of when we were making this game and there is also the fact that we absolutely didn’t want to make it a scary, dark game in any way. We wanted the image to be graphically friendly so to speak, something like that. However, as far as what we have been able to do in this case and what we have not been able to do before, there is It’s the fact that in the past we couldn’t have everyone coming together to play in the living room, back in the days of the original games there was this sort of need to play it individually. This time around, however, there are various ways in which you can enjoy the game experience: you can have friends come to your house to play one player or two player mode, there is throwing the Pokéball and there is everything. a number of aspects in which we can be successful this time. It also seems that in this case they are such simple elements but at the time of the original game they were impossible to make. It is therefore a big difference.
This time around, however, there are various ways in which you can enjoy the game experience: you can have friends come to your house to play one player or two player mode, there is throwing the Pokéball and there is everything. a number of aspects in which we can be successful this time. It also seems that in this case they are such simple elements but at the time of the original game they were impossible to make. It is therefore a big difference. This time around, however, there are various ways in which you can enjoy the game experience: you can have friends come to your house to play one player or two player mode, there is throwing the Pokéball and there is everything. a number of aspects in which we can be successful this time. It also seems that in this case they are such simple elements but at the time of the original game they were impossible to make. It is therefore a big difference. It also seems that in this case they are such simple elements but at the time of the original game they were impossible to make. It is therefore a big difference. It also seems that in this case they are such simple elements but at the time of the original game they were impossible to make. It is therefore a big difference.
SamaGame: You mentioned that you didn’t want Kanto to be scary and I know you talked about Pokémon and specifically Let’s Go as something that is accessible to new players. Are there still puzzles and challenges, things like cave force puzzles, or have you completely moved away from that?
Junichi Masuda:When we tried to think about how children generally play these days, what came to mind was mobile games. Titles where you play for a short time and maybe switch to many other games pretty fast, so in case there was a game that takes two hours to access core content we thought maybe people might get a little bored and decide to move on to something else. In the days of the old pokémon or even just the virtual console version of the original that has Pikachu as its core, it could take something like thirty or forty hours to have a sense of completion or significant progress.
Junichi Masuda: In the same vein in the past there was no type of mechanics that allowed you to run anywhere in the game but obviously now with the 3D map you can move diagonally and you can go wherever you want, you can run, move and all effects faster and with the Pokémon appearing in the game world you can choose whether you want to catch them or avoid them altogether. In this case we are somewhat bending the will of the players and giving them more options to choose the way to play that is most enjoyable for them.
SamaGame: What would you like to say to those players who are begging for a little more challenge, perhaps the adult players who have been playing for these 20 years or who have started a little later? Should they wait for next year’s most classic RPG instead
Junichi Masuda: For that kind of fan we mentioned the “catch combo” mechanic whereby you catch the same Pokémon multiple times in a row and get various rewards and benefits from just that.
Kensaku Nabana: Even the postgame content, especially the master trainers. These are what can be considered the ultimate trainers for a specific pokémon and you will challenge them. In case of victory in battle, you will then get their title on that specific pokémon by becoming its master.
Junichi Masuda: As far as I’m concerned, my favorite pokémon is Psyduck so I could train my Psyduck perfectly and then challenge the master Psyduck to get his title. This is an activity that you can engage in for a long time if you really want to create a challenge. And these Master Trainers exist for all 151 Pokémon in the game so if you really want to collect all the titles then you have something you can really challenge yourself with.
SamaGame: Is this all post-game content or is there more? Is there any story-based content after the main quest?
Junichi Masuda: This game is obviously based on Pokémon Yellow so in addition to the Master Trainers there is always the challenge of completing the Pokédex and it is not just the in-game content but we would like the players to challenge themselves also in terms of encounter. friends and simply swap Pokémon from both versions to complete that Pokédex I was referring to.
SamaGame: Sure, and I know you haven’t talked much about it yet but is there any chance that there could be a National Pokédex beyond the 151 from Kanto? Or some kind of plan regarding adding Pokémon from other generations?
Junichi Masuda: No currently, what we can’t wait to see is how the game will be received. We will see the welcome among the players so now they have to become the coaches, throw their own Pokéballs and realize that dream that everyone should have, including myself. You know, becoming a Pokémon trainer is everyone’s dream, get the Pokéballs and go on an adventure.
SamaGame: We briefly referred to those HMs as Forza and that’s something that has changed with virtually every game. Do you feel like you’ve reached a full stop on implementing them with Let’s Go with fan-based focused elements like Pikachu surfing and flying Pikachu with balloons?
Junichi Masuda: Yes, this element is something complicated every time, with every new game. In a way we ask ourselves: what do we want our Pokémon to be able to do? And this time, since we have the partner Pokémon who was always without you throughout the game, you know we can make them have these secret techniques that only your partner can learn. As for the new or future generations it will be up to the developers of those games to decide exactly how to implement these Hidden Machines. It’s a nuisance every time.
It’s really hard . Sometimes you may not be able to continue in the game or you end up getting stuck somewhere and it’s … really annoying. But it would be a bit boring if we only had players who can move every obstacle themselves!
SamaGame: Do you see a future where there will simply be no HM at all and another system will be used to manage how players advance?
Junichi Masuda: It’s not that there is actually a glitch with these elements, it’s just the fact that if you teach Surf to a Pokémon and then head to an island and then you have that Pokémon that forgets Surf and you end up get stuck on that island. What should you do in that case? It’s always the same type of problem every time and how can you solve that particular problem?
If that were the situation then the player would just have to swim across the ocean in first person carrying their Pokémon and you end up wondering, am I the Pokémon? Or is my Pokémon? It would get confusing.
SamaGame: Ok, completely changing the subject another thing I wanted to talk about was Meltan. It had a really unusual reveal, it was really exciting for us to try and understand what was going on. When it was discovered on the Pokémon Go network shortly before it appeared in the game, was it a leak? Or was it intentional and therefore a reveal disguised as a leak to intentionally increase people’s enthusiasm?
Junichi Masuda: It was planned.
Indeed, yes, we have worked hard on this element. We didn’t even tell the players in the company so even some of us were surprised when it all happened. Only a few people knew about the plan in advance so it was a really well kept secret.
Normally I don’t post something on Twitter about new Pokémon and Pokémon that can be more interbred within Pokémon Go on certain specific days but the day Meltan would be released was also community day and there was Chikorita who was the Pokémon of the day. 15 minutes before Meltan was ready to launch I tweeted: “oh everyone run to catch your Chikorita, you only have 15 minutes!” and it was something … out of the ordinary.
SamaGame: We will aim to pay more attention to your tweets! As for the decision to reveal the pokémon in that way (as far as I know it had never been done before specifically with a creature available for the first time in a non-main game) when there was first this thought and of who was the idea?
Junichi Masuda: As for who made the decision it is the PR team of The Pokémon Company International, of Niantic and also myself who met and started talking about it. We were thinking about how we would like people to have their eyes on Meltan for the first time and how to make it look like some kind of cute Pokémon from the start to make it look, move around the area, do its thing. and people were wondering “oh, now what is this ?!” We thought that was the best way for Meltan to reveal himself to the world for the first time.
SamaGame: Can you already answer something regarding how we can catch him?
Junichi Masuda: This information will actually be revealed on October 10th but we will tell you. You are under embargo so don’t go talk about it in the bar or somewhere else! .
After you transfer Pokémon from Pokémon Go to Pokémon Let’s Go you will receive a Mysterious Box inside Pokémon Go, then if you open this box, for a short time, you will have the ability to encounter Meltan.
SamaGame: Is it possible to transfer Meltan to Pokémon Let’s Go?
PR: Yes, through the usual method.
SamaGame: And is there only a single Meltan to own that is featured in either Go or Let’s Go or is it possible to own more than one and own them in both games?
Junichi Masuda: The short answer is that it is possible to have more Meltan but as you know this is the first time we have a Pokémon making its debut in a game that is not part of the main series but in Pokémon Go and this is quite an event. special.
SamaGame: Ok, thanks for answering (although I can’t talk about it until everyone already knows!). Last time we spoke, when Let’s Go in Japan was announced, the issue of open-world games within Nintendo Switch, titles like Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, came up, and you mentioned that there is. it is the possibility that a Pokémon game could go this way. I know this is a deliberately vague position but is it something that is still being considered? Is this something you think will happen on Switch someday?
Junichi Masuda: Well in general I always want to take on new challenges and try to do new things with Pokémon. Whether players will actually enjoy that type of game is a different matter but you know, things like setting up an AI that allows Pokémon to appear in the world, or different ways to enjoy the game. I’m always thinking about how to approach the Pokémon series from a different point of view so in that sense it’s still a possibility.
SamaGame: I also wanted to ask a quick question about the Pokémon that are available in the game, and specifically those that are related to Kanto but are not part of the original 151. Pokémon like Igglybuff or Magmortar that bond with the first generation of Pokémon. What was the reasoning behind the decision to leave them out of the game?
Junichi Masuda: In a way, behind this is the fact that in Generation I there were no Pokémon Eggs so when we thought about how these Pokémon could have been born we realized that it would not make sense. However at the same time we wanted to spend more time and put more effort into making Kanto’s Pokémon, the original 151, as best made as possible and express them to the fullest.
SamaGame: And does this suggest that you are eyeing another game like Let’s Go set in Johto?
Junichi Masuda: Maybe if everyone enjoys playing these games but more importantly I know that a lot of people and fans have spent a lot of time hatching eggs, hatched … a lot of eggs but we want them to discover new ways to enjoy the games of the Pokémon. I would be very sad to think that for them Pokémon is the same as hatching eggs so with this title we are trying to show these people another side of the game.
SamaGame: Finally, I know you can’t talk about anything specific at the moment so what I want to know is when you can start talking about the 2019 RPG title …
Junichi Masuda: One day … next year.