Nintendo Pokemon

Junichi Masuda Explains Why Your Rivals In The Pokemon Franchise Aren’t Jerks Anymore

GameSpot has had the opportunity to chat with Pokemon director Junichi Masuda. The publication undoubtedly had many questions for Mr. Masuda but the one they put to him was why your rivals in the Pokemon franchise are no longer quite as mean as they were in the company’s older titles. He explained that technology has proved to be the main reason as your rivals can now change their facial expressions, whereas before they could only rely on dialogue.

“I think the biggest reason that rivals were more of a jerk in the early days is that we were just limited in what we could express with the pixel graphics,” Masuda told GameSpot through an interpreter. “There’s not much that you can do with that kind of little sprite on the screen, so we worked harder to characterize them through dialogue and give them certain personalities.

“Also, because it’s just dialogue and there’s not a whole lot going on on the screen, it doesn’t give as harsh of an impression even if they’re jerks, I think. Now we have HD graphics and the visuals are much more impressive. If you also made him a jerk, the impression would be a lot stronger on players. Another thing, just my own personal take, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then.”

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57 comments

  1. Oh wow my gameboy advance sure gave detail of how emotional my friendly rival is… It’s more the fact that they’re “bullies” and we can’t have that in a kids game OH NO because they would be bullies too! Stop putting stupid political agenda where it doesn’t belong, same thing of why we don’t have the homosexual options in Fire Emblem here in US it’s all a bunch of stupid things blocking artistic directions on videogames.
    I hope Masuda doesn’t get involved too much in the next gen or I swear we can see a new “friendly rival” again.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was seriously asking. It reminded me of jackass but if the guys on there were too feeble to do stupid stunts but instead they sung songs written by a writer who was fired from south park and really loves Ricky Gervais.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Well there is a aggressive amount of bullying in Japan, hell it’s sometimes way more aggressive than in the US, though I don’t think that’s really the reason for your rivals being friendly now. I mean all the bad guys in Pokemon games are all still bullies and jerks so that still stands. And I don’t understand your part on the homosexual options in Fire Emblem since we did get that in the US in Fates. So are you just remembering wrong or are you referring to something else?

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  2. As much as I love Gamefreak, answers like these just prove how out-of-touch they are with reality.
    Take a look around, there are so many antagonists in gaming that people adore! And some of them are actually way worse than the smack talk the older rivals gave you.
    Gamefreak, we are not babies, we can handle a rival that can be abit of a jerk to you, if anything I would argue putting in a jerkish rival could be a good thing for kids as it will teach them the world is not all sunshine and rainbows.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. this is a kids game that is the main audience, others play the game but the largest audience that may also not be the core audience are kids. I wouldnt let kids of the age that are the target audience for pokemon play a far cry game until they are a little older. And yes most kids did grow up with the jerky rival but we did not grow up with an expressive jerky rival in pokemon. remember it has to fit into the feel and world they build for the game. BTW I do also feel like I want a rival that really feels like he hates my guts but I don’t feel like that tone would work unless they changed more dialouge tones in the game with more character or else it may stand out in a bad way.

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      2. +Dan
        See, that’s where I disagree, by leaving jerks out of kids games, you’re basically giving children the impression that the world is all sunshine and rainbows but when they hit the real world, they are not going to know how to properly handle it. Also, having a rival that “genuinely hates your guts” is going too far, Blue was a jerk but I wouldn’t go so far to say that he hated your guts. Hell, you could even use your jerk rival as a lesson, Pokemon has plenty of non-jerk characters and they can be there to show you’re not alone and how to be a better person.
        Besides, plenty of video games and TV shows made for kids have jerks, look at Thomas The Tank Engine, that show is full of jerks and most kids I know love it!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So in other words, this a way to further push “losing is okay”, instead of having intimidating trainers to give the player the incentive to actually win. They’ve been doing this crap with the gym leaders in the anime since Hoenn.

    Did some Japanese child bawl their eyes out after losing to one of said jerks?

    Problems at home with children, Mr. Matsuda?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes I think there goal is just to make the experience fun and relaxing instead of stressful and challenging. Pokemon games were also never hard

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  4. Meanwhile, the anime has rivals that are complete a**holes, and no one has rioted. Remember Paul? His abusive actions towards Chimchar was appa(u)ling. Remember Trip? Everyone thought he was a trip, even after his role model, Alder, put him in his place.

    Puns aside, these were great characters that left an impact on viewers, and taught valuable lessons that worked in the Pokemon universe and the real world. Trainer Green/Blue was no different, and taught players that while achieving your dreams can be done in different ways, that doesn’t mean every one of those ways is the right way to do it.

    Junichi Masuda has disappointed me as of late with his views on the “Pokemon experience” and how HE wants people to experience Pokemon games. I REALLY hope he doesn’t mess up the 2019 Pokemon title. He needs to start listening to feedback and his fans before it’s too late. I’m a Pokemon fanboy but I’m not a fanboy of of Junichi Masuda.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Meanwhile, the anime has rivals that are complete jerks and no one has rioted. Remember Paul? His abusive actions towards Chimchar was appa(u)ling. Remember Trip? Everyone thought he was a trip, even after his role model, Alder, put him in his place.

    Puns aside, these were great characters that left an impact on viewers, and taught valuable lessons that worked in the Pokemon universe and the real world. Trainer Green/Blue was no different, and taught viewers that while achieving your dreams can be done in different ways, that doesn’t mean every one of those ways is the right way to do it.

    Junichi Masuda has disappointed me as of late with his recent public-made views on the “Pokemon experience” and how HE wants people to experience it. He needs to listen to feedback instead of hearing it. I’m a Pokemon fanboy but I’m not a fanboy of of Junichi Masuda.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Gaming industry reporters should really try to push the context and implications behind their questions in interviews. I think the Japanese developers would understand a little bit more how the audience for the games feel if they framed the question from the angle in which the concern arose.

    Ex. There has been many complaints about the rivals becoming too soft and not leaving a memorable competitive impression on players within the last few iterations of the game, is there a reason as to why rivals aren’t quite as mean as they used to be?

    You would avoid bizarre answers and devs would get the point that this is a concern. Within the drowning praise most popular games get, it is really hard to filter legitimate criticism if you’re not a person who interacts with the community regularly.

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  7. That’s your answer >>>> “Another thing, just my “own personal take”, is that it feels that people with those kinds of personalities these days are just not as accepted by players as they were back then.””

    Marist PC culture in USA said no and so Japan had no other choice by going global.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah, I remember how no video game never had a personable, emotionally-developed character until we got rid of those darn sprites and moved on to 3D.

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  9. Honestly I’ve cared less and less for my rival as time went on. Beating the jerk rival felt more satisfying cos he made you WANT to beat him. Why would I care as much about beating my “rival”, though it’s more of a friend lately, if they’re gonna be nice and help me out along the way? Bring back the jerks!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I kind of liked rivals better when they were antagonistic and were jerks to you/your character- it made you feel like “Okay, I HAVE to beat you,” “I’ll shut you up,” and it felt good to beat them. Friendly rivals aren’t bad but they don’t feel as impactful.

    I agree about hostile rivals being more memorable. Everyone here remembers the rival of Pokemon Red/Blue, Gary Oak, but does everyone remember the rivals from Pokemon Black/White? I sure don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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