How Pokemon are born

With Pokemon Platinum’s North American release only a few days away, we sat down for a chat with Pokemon Company/GAME FREAK Board Director Junichi Masuda, and GAME FREAK Designer and Developer Takeshi Kawachimaru. Mr. Masuda has been with GAME FREAK since 1989 and has been with the Pokemon franchise since its beginning. As a result, he oversees pretty much all aspects of the Pokemon series, including approving and rejecting new Pokemon.

Above: Masuda on the left, Kawachimaru on the right

Remember that Pokemon you drew in 8th grade history class that looked like a tea kettle and shot fire balls? Mr. Masuda is probably the guy that turned it down. Mr. Kawachimaru has been developing and designing Pokemon games since Ruby and Sapphire and is equally as dedicated to the franchise.

In this interview we try and find out what goes on behind the scenes of making a Pokemon game, and see if there’s any Pokemon they just can’t stand.


GamesRadar: First, what do you think the most exciting aspect of Pokemon Platinum will be for Pokemon fans?

Takeshi Kawachimaru: Platinum is targeted at two audiences so there are two things that I’d like to mention, the first thing is Battle Video and Battle Frontier. Those are the places that the core player who’s really into battling, can go and enjoy the actual Pokemon battle. Those are the new ways of battling one another. Secondly there is Wi-Fi Plaza, there are some Pokemon game players who don’t enjoy much battling, but they can go to this plaza, and they can play different kinds of minigames. So there is a good variety for both kinds of players.

Given that trainers have had plenty of time to train their Pokemon in Diamond and Pearl, will Platinum be more challenging?

Kawachimaru: In certain places, yes, as we want to entertain people who have already played Diamond and Pearl. So certain areas, such as the Elite Four, will be more challenging. But at the same time we want the game to remain approachable to everybody, including beginners, so the basics are the same difficulty.

For a game that is targeted at a generally younger audience, Pokemon contains a lot of complex elemements such as the Individual Value and Effort Value systems. Are aspects like this added to appeal to an older, or perhaps more hardcore trainer?

Junichi Masuda: Yes there is game design to set IV and EV, and that’s something for people who enjoy battling and want to go more in depth. Also we don’t want to forget that the basic concept of the game is to train Pokemon and these are parts of that.

Kawachimaru: The EVs and IVs also help to make each Pokemon in the game individual as it adds another unique aspect to their traits and abilities.

Are there any plans to make things like EVs and hunting shiny Pokemon with the Poke Radar more visible or easier to manage? At the moment they seem like very secret things that most players will miss unless they research them on the internet.

Masuda: As you know, each Pokemon already has statistics, natures and characteristic traits that we provide to the player that are essential to training. We are thinking of doing something along the lines of what you suggested, but there are many ideas floating around about how to approach it, so we can’t say for sure.

I’m sure a question you get a lot is “What’s your favorite Pokemon?” so let me ask, what’s your least favorite Pokemon?

Kawachimaru: (laughs) I don’t have a least favorite Pokemon, but when we are battling, I don’t want my opponent to have Bronzong because he is very tricky to fight against because of his defense and unusual moves like trick room.

Masuda: I am the one who looks at the concepts and approves new Pokemon (laughs), so I don’t have any least favorite Pokemon, I like all of them.

How long does it typically take for a Pokemon to go from a concept drawing to being in the actual game?

Masuda: The first thing I do is determine what direction we want to go in with the character. We look at the concept and determine is this a strong character? Is this an evolution of a current Pokemon? Is it a legendary Pokemon or a more basic one? The fastest ones take around six months, but the ones that play important roles in the game, like the starter Pokemon, they take more than a year.



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  • Metagross - April 21, 2011 11:47 a.m.

    As a long loving poké fan I think that the wii SHOULD gain some form of a Pokémon adventure not that Pika park bollocks and Wifi Plaza !? COME ON MASUDA you can do better than that.
  • pokemonfr99 - April 4, 2009 6:41 p.m.

  • JoeMasturbaby - March 22, 2009 9:34 p.m.

    @Clucky: Psyduck is based off a platypus.
  • deathrebellion - March 21, 2009 12:44 p.m.

    the battle style and the traning of the Pokemons is lovely even though its very simple its just too gud
  • reyalejandro13 - March 21, 2009 8:55 a.m.

    Man, D/P are probably the best ones so far. I think the only "problem" in the series is that you can't get other regions starters, except for Fr/Lg. I hope pokemon never dies. I'm glad there won't be any core games for consoles. anyway... I think it's kinda funny how they said the whole "if you can't expand on a pokemon, it gets rejected" thing, but there are still pokemon like Girafarig and Lapras that can't evolve. Then again, that's what Gen. 5 Is for!
  • Magic_OF_Mayhem - March 20, 2009 10:27 p.m.

    really, they spent a year to make Chimchar? turtwig is just grass squirtle, but I could think of anything better than Chimchar in a day.
  • LordAlzorn - March 20, 2009 9:29 p.m.

    Very informitive. I hope Pokemon keeps going, if it doesn't I think we will all cry... POKEMON FOREVER!!!
  • shakeandbake710 - March 20, 2009 9:18 p.m.

    19th! they need to remake silver/gold/crystal cuz there my fav. my feraligatr. diamond and pearl sucked though. loved up to them but hsd to stop. it took 10 times longer to get into actually gameplay. the games arent about story its about destroying the game and lvling your top 15 pokemon to at least lvl mmm 60 or so
  • ToughGuy - March 20, 2009 6:21 p.m.

    Ah, CH3BURASHKA, I see you follow the Ms. Garrison approach to Pokemon Evolution
  • FierceDeity - March 19, 2009 11:59 p.m.

    i remember i drew an awesome articuno evolved form in school a long long time ago. man articuno rocked and no digimon was bad, just the first pokecopiers along with yugioh and all that shiz
  • HardNoks - March 19, 2009 11:48 p.m.

    whatever happened to digimon? i liked them better lol
  • brando333 - March 19, 2009 11:14 p.m.

    haha, true, it was a misleading title. .....fourth?
  • Pocotron - March 19, 2009 10:59 p.m.

    Would this count as a dare I say it... Pokemusing? ugh, third
  • Cyberninja - March 19, 2009 10:21 p.m.

    first, i love pokemon
  • cd518 - April 26, 2009 4:20 a.m.

    does anyone know how i can suggest a pokemon design to the designers or whoever? I have some cool ideas that might be good enough, but i highly doubt it. PLZ TELL ME IF YOU KNOW!!!!
  • WBxRelentless - March 25, 2009 8:43 a.m.

    ok hold on. before anymore people say "i love pokemon" or "pokemon forever" i bet you cant even name all 400-something pokemon in the game. i use to be in love with pokemon..but then it just kept growing and growing like a tumor. I could name all 101 pokemon by heart but i just lost track. QUIT MAKING MORE POKEMON ROSIE O'DONNEL'S VAG CANT HANDLE IT ANYMORE!!!
  • MisterPants - March 24, 2009 1:57 a.m.

    The only shinies I've ever caught were low grade pidgeys and zubats, the lamest of the lame pokemon. Such space wasters, they are.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - March 22, 2009 10:15 p.m.

    also @ Clucky: Manetric is a lion based pokemon. I personally never got the appeal of leccy poke's, too easily knocked out and could easily be neutered by a rock/ground pokemon, which are fairly common. Oh and Machamp FTW, Closely followed by Graveller don't like Golem tbh too much hype for a 3rd level pokemon and it wasnt that much better than Graveller Then Gyrados and Magmar My 2 favourite poke's from newer generations are Shedinja and Walrien. Shedinja for the obscurity and insane special ability Walrien because it was my first ever shiney pokemon ^^ Caught at level 19 when it was just a Spheal, he's purple/pink (instead of blue) and level 98 now. Nicknamed Sparkle. Because im lame xD
  • loonyman978 - March 22, 2009 6:50 p.m.

    I think Pokemon was my first game on the old black snd white gameboy. Such a great game, kept playing it for years.
  • Spartan11794 - March 21, 2009 8:19 p.m.

    I would has asked them if a remake of silver and gold is a possibilty!!!!