Pokemon boss Junichi Masuda recently chatted to the media and investors regarding the company’s three Pokemon projects for the Nintendo Switch. Those games are Pokemon Quest, Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu! Pokemon Lets’ Go Eevee! and Pokemon 2019. It was clear once it was revealed that Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu! Pokemon Lets’ Go Eevee! are clearly inspired by the ultra popular Pokemon GO which turned into a cultural phenomenon. Here’s the things in Pokemon GO which have influenced the new titles.
Can we learn more about the assessment you made about Pokémon Go and its success, and are there other things you’ve picked up from Pokémon Go to include in Let’s Go?
Masuda: So in terms of first about how I assess the success of Pokémon Go, of course it makes me very happy to see Pokémon Go be such a huge success and such a phenomenon – and really we think it introduced a lot of people to Pokémon, the idea of catching Pokémon, the idea of a Pokéball. And because of that we really wanted to expand on that kind of idea of what a Pokémon RPG could be, something that’s broader, for everyone, and that’s why we work on these games. So that’s one assessment on Pokémon Go.
With that in mind obviously there are so many people that played Pokémon Go – I think we reached 800 million downloads – so we wanted to create a fun experience for them but at the same time really make a fun game for fans that have enjoyed the RPGs up until now, so it’s really kind of merging those two audiences into one game that we all can have fun and play.
I’m trying to think of other things we picked up from Pokémon Go… I can’t say about any other gameplay ideas that we picked up from Pokémon Go, but one of the things we really focused on was that experience of allowing for, for example, parents to kind of go out and catch Pokémon for Pokémon Go and then give some of those to maybe their kid, who’s playing Let’s Go Pikachu on Switch for example. So that experience is one of the things we wanted to really take a lot of care over for these games.
And there’s probably a lot of things, I guess more subconsciously, that did come into the development of these games – of course I worked on Pokémon Go, for example I created the music for both of them [Go and Let’s Go] so, there’s probably some things that maybe I’m not thinking about that did affect the Switch games.
How do you think the core RPG players will react to the Let’s Go games? I know Pokémon Go was immensely popular but it had quite a mixed reaction amongst more ‘hardcore’ players – how do you appease those players and is it more a case that they should wait to 2019 for the game they’re after?
Masuda: So the first thing I can say is that… I’ve been the director on the main series Pokémon RPGs – most of them, up until now – and there are a lot of kind of core tenets or rules of the series that I’ve never broke up until now, for example the whole idea of the flow of going into a battle against wild Pokémon, reducing their health and then catching them. That was one of the things that we just never wanted to change but, with these games specifically, I wanted to create a new experience for kids and with this time I decided to shift that towards more of a kind of casual, lighter experience. So that’s one of the things I wanted to do.
And one of the things, for example, up until now in the tall grass you couldn’t see which Pokémon were in there so, a lot of players would kind of avoid the tall grass in their journeys, up until now, and one of the big changes this time is that you can actually see the Pokémon before you actually run into and encounter them so, it’s kind of changed the dynamic to much more of a proactive experience, where you’re going out and seeking Pokémon.
So for me, having worked on the Pokémon main series games, and Pokémon Go, both the players who have enjoyed our RPGs until now, all the fans are extremely important to me – but also the people who played Pokémon Go, and that was their first Pokémon game, they’re also extremely important to me, and what I really want to do with these games is prevent both of these types of players from going in different directions, and I’m hoping that these games will kind of bring them together.
So what would make me happiest would be if Pokémon Go players and traditional Pokémon RPG players actually come together and are throwing out Pokéballs together, either with the Joy-Con or using their smartphones, and really enjoying Pokémon together.
And that’s also one of the things I just mentioned about the parent maybe going out and catching Pokémon and giving them to their children, and sharing that catching experience.