If we were to throw an award at the biggest success story of 2016, we’d quickly be arrested for assaulting Pokémon Go with half a 2 litre coke bottle filled with Cadbury’s chocolate éclairs. A huge hit for Nintendo and their partners, Pokémon Go made pocket monsters cool again. It reinvigorated the brand and had people outside, interacting and travelling long distances just for the chance to catch a digital version of their childhood.
Millions (AND MILLIONS!) of people played the game, possibly far more than the regular player-base for the core Pokémon franchise. And you’d think that the success of the free mobile game would have some impact on the core series. You’d sort of be right, as Pokémon Sun and Moon producer Junichi Masuda spoke to GameSpot about the impact of Pokémon Go on this year’s pocket monsters entry.
“With Pokémon Go, I was involved with the development and specifically designing the catching mechanic. I really wanted to make it super easy to understand what to do, whether or not you’ve ever played a Pokémon game before or know what Pokémon is about,” Masuda explained.
People who maybe don’t know Pokémon, they would see a creature, they have a ball. They may not know to throw the ball and catch that Pokémon, so one of the things we did to really simplify that is we added a target on the Pokémon. So you intuitively know to throw the ball at that target. We really focused on the aspect of catching Pokémon.
And then adding the ability to put some spin on the ball, for example, and really fleshing out that mechanic, that was the direction of Pokémon Go.
The main series games though, they’re made to be enjoyed in longer sessions, maybe at home, and we focus a lot on the raising of Pokémon and using them in battle. It was a different direction, really focused more on training Pokémon and raising them, so both games take two different direction. I think Go players will be able to jump into the main series through the Sun and Moon games.
We make sure that we explain the mechanics in the main series games so that anyone can pick up and play them. Rather than being scary or intimidating, I think we have a new, strong ally in the Pokémon world.
I think a lot of people got a chance to experience Pokémon for the first time, and I think they’ll be in for a much different experience with Sun and Moon. One of the cool things was that in Go is that you see all of the original Pokémon from the first games, the Kanto Pokémon. What we’ve done in Pokémon Sun and Moon, we have these Alolan region variants that you’ll see, like the very long neck version of Exeggutor.
For people that have played Pokémon Go, who are used to seeing these Pokémon, they’ll be surprised at all these new takes on these Pokémon they’re already familiar with.
When Pokémon first began twenty years, the core idea was all about catching’em all. That hasn’t really changed over the years, but it has been expanded on with an attempt to create better stories centered around that mechanic and to create a better way to communicate around the world with like-minded players. “It’s the beauty of diversity. In really big terms, it expresses beauty of diversity,” Masuda said.
They are so many options. You can find things that you like, and everyone can find something that they like within the Pokémon world.
“What Pokemon represents to me, is that it facilitates communication, interactions with other people,” designer Shigeru Ohmori added.
Really communicating with friends, through trading, for example, and growing up alongside these Pokémon. I think that the experiences you have with them add value to them, and that also goes back and facilitates the trading. You want to get other people’s Pokémon. That’s really what it means to me.
Pokémon Sun and Moon drops next month. If you’re hungry for a taste of it, there’s a demo available right now to have a go with.