Junichi Masuda, director of the Pokémon series, recently sat down with The Guardian and talked about his involvement in the series. In the interview, the game developer talked about how when he was younger, he would go outside and capture and study insects. Along with this, he loved technology and was always fascinated by how it worked.
The co-founder of Game Freak, Satoshi Tajiri, started the video game magazine of the same name in 1982 with the future artist of Pokémon, Ken Sugimori. Tajiri invited Masuda to assist in the soundtrack for their first video game, Mendel’s Palace. After this, Nintendo released the Game Boy, and Tajiri thought of insects walking along the cable that linked the two systems. They took the idea to Nintendo and they were signed on almost immediately. Even with this good fortune, however, the game took nearly six years to complete, and Game Freak almost went bankrupt many times.
It was a difficult time, but I never thought about giving up or throwing it all away. You know, when we started work on the game our motivation was never to make money. We just wanted to make the games we were interested in. – Junichi Masuda
During the early 90’s, Masuda assisted in development in a number of other games to help keep Game Freak financially stable. Pokémon Red and Blue came out towards the end of the Game Boy’s lifetime, but as word of mouth spread and the TV show hit the airwaves, more and more school children were picking up the games. Tajiri then leaked that a secret Pokémon named Mew could be acquired, and demand for the game grew even more. Masuda also talked about the main values he likes to include in the games.
Morality in the story is one of the core things I think about when making these games. I think anyone who has the capacity to play the game will inherently be in a privileged position; they are above a certain level of poverty to even own video games. This means they might be in a more favorable position to change the world when they grow up. In Pokémon, we present an idealistic world. That is there deliberately, in the hope that it inspired our players to be a positive influence on their own worlds. – Junichi Masuda
Masuda also talked about how it feels to finish up a long project like a Pokémon game.
Usually when we near the end of a project, I feel like I’ve done all I can. I’m out of ideas, and I think: ‘this could be my last game.’ But when the game is released and I start to see how people play, I find new ideas for game features and challenges. It’s a cycle: running out of energy towards the end of a project, resting and recuperating and then feeling energized to get back into a new game. – Junichi Masuda
By reaching out to young people in this way, Masuda has been able to create an environment that is both new and familiar to the people that play the games. In the most recent entries in the series, Pokémon X and Y, you can see oceans, small villages, sprawling metropolises, fields and forests, and plenty of other untamed areas. For someone growing up in a city or a suburb, the ability to venture out into the wilderness and capture the creatures living there is a wonderful premise. Likewise, people who live in the country or who are generally closer to nature get to experience that in the game, while at the same time using the plethora of technology provided to you to help complete your Pokédex. That’s why Pokémon is a game series that continues to sell well among many age groups even today. It’s these stories and elements of exploration and learning that could help keep Pokémon one of Nintendo’s top series.
Source: The Guardian