Pokemon X/Y: WHY?! Director Masuda himself answers!

Pokemon X and Why Not!

What a fantastic day to talk more about Pokemon X and Y! And who better to do it with than the games Director, Junichi Masuda, and the Art Director, Hironobu Yoshida themselves. This week we at GamesRadar had the fantastic opportunity to get a lengthy hands-on playthrough with finished versions of Pokemon X/Y, and afterwards talk about the experience and ask questions of the two incredibly notable gentlemen above.

And we didn't just talk about the Pokemon X and Y Pokedex either, we got a chance to discuss the entire universe of X and Y. Mr. Masuda started the interview by saying they had approached this new iteration of Pokemon with three themes in mind: Beauty, Bonds, and Evolution. Then for almost every answer they gave, they either started from or came back to one of those three themes.If anything this made us even more excited for the launch of the games.

Why...the names X and Y

Maybe its not like this for you all, but the first thing we think of when we hear X and Y are genders, or at least the chromosomes responsible for them. And when we pitched this question, thats how we worded it, asking if thats where the inspiration for X and Y came from...we were totally wrong.

Mr. Masuda set us straight, So the X and Y actually come from the two axes, the X and the Y axes," Masuda said. "These are used as kind of a way to express different ways of thinking--different opinions--and its actually tied into the themes of the games, which is expressed through certain differences in the story between the two versions. So there will be slight differences to the story in X and Y. It also ties into the message we want to convey with these games: Even though X and Y are representing these two different ways of thought, theres a point where they overlap. So we really want to convey the message of finding these points that we as humans share in common, rather than focusing on the differences we have.

Why...France

This one lined up with the theme of beauty. In thinking of regions to be inspired by, Masuda and the X and Y team naturally fell on France.

Masuda: We came to France as the inspiration for the region of Kalos. And when thinking of France: it has the most tourists in the world, and a lot of categories like fashion, art, and food theyre well know for. Theyre focused on aesthetics and beauty, and we felt it would be a good match for the theme this time. And of course were not just importing France and putting it into the game, it just was the inspiration for the theme of this game. I think it will be a lot of fun for players to go into the game and see a lot of similarities with Kalos and France. And since weve used [the French region] as a motif for the Kalos region, it just naturally becomes a bit more European feeling."

Why...Horde battles

Two new battle types were introduced for X and Y: horde and sky battles. Could anything new be accomplished with them? Thats what we asked, to which Masudas reply was: "With the horde battles: so theres kind of a big dilemma in pokemon. You dont really have challenging encounters against wild pokemon. We could just put in really strong pokemon, but if we were to do that...you could catch [these strong pokemon] and then it would be very easy to progress through the game.

He continued, "So in order to get around that and introduce more excitement to the battles and a sense of danger, we introduced these roaming hordes of pokemon that you would have to go in and battle against five pokemon at once with just your one pokemon. We think that will add a lot of excitement to the encounters."

Why...Sky battles

Second were the sky battles. Our question remained the same: what new could this battle type bring to the the Pokemon world? Once again Masuda answered in full: So with the sky battles: in order to initiate them you actually have to find these sky trainers in the world, and...Theyll invite you to have a sky battle, and you have to have a flying type pokemon, or some type of pokemon that can take to the skies to be able to participate in them.

Why put them in? We really wanted to show a battle from the perspective of the trainers looking up from the ground, looking up into the sky and giving orders to their pokemon. This really only became possible with the move to 3D, to be able to show off these cool camera angles.

Why...are the starters designed the way that they are

After mulling over the question for a bit, Yoshida was the one to answer: With each time with the starter pokemon, we always focus on making each one of them kind of equally a pokemon that youd wanna pick. [We want to] make it hard to pick one of [the starters] because were making them equally appealing. One thing that might have been different about this time is that with the addition of the Pokemon-Amie mode and the ability to reach out and pet pokemon, and to be able to interact with them directly, I think we were focused on that a little more with these starters.

Later on in the interview, Yoshida answered a bit more about them: So with the inspiration for the region being France and the setting being closer to a European type thing. The three starters this time evolve in a way, we cant really tell you what the exact details are, but they evolve in a way that make people think of one of those medieval RPGs. So thatll be something in store for you.

Why...are there flowers in the tall grass

We had started by asking about the general theme of beauty in the game, but a little ways into his answer Masuda focused down onto an aspect that we hadnt noticed: flowers.

Masuda: One thing that were doing in Pokemon X and Y that we havent done before is adding a lot of flowers to the game. So if you look at the tall grass and whatnot, theres a lot of differently colored flowers, and we actually tied this into the gameplay. Not just to make the visuals gorgeous...depending on the color of the flower the kinds of Pokemon that will appear in that area will be different.

Why...no rivals

To begin is answer, Masuda said, At Game Freak, I mean, its probably a result of the first two games--Red and Blue, and Gold and Silver--having this kind of strong rival, but at Game Freak we really dont focus a lot on having this aspect of this really strong rival, or this adversary. We dont really use that expression over there. Instead, he said, they focus on, having someone who thinks in a different way as you, perhaps, or is kind of your opposite.

Which in our playthrough meant friends! We were very excited by this feature, and were totally on board when Masuda spoke about friends in the game: The game begins when you meet them for the first time, and then you set out on this adventure together. And over the course of the adventure you can really see your relationship becomes closer with these friends, and it just deepens as the adventure goes along.

Why...Team Flare?

Flare could mean so many different things, are we thinking metaphorical or physical here? Masuda: So it kind of ties into the name 'flare,' theyve got a lot of flare obviously. But with Team Flare, we kind of wanted to make them come off as a cross, a bit more goofy and funny. A lot of the lines they say might be kind of goofy, but they also have this clothing thats stylish, depending on your opinion. So that separation there is interesting, that gap between what they say and how theyre dressed, is something that I thought would be very interesting.

We immediately thought of N from the previous games; he seemed to be the opposite of what Masuda was describing with Team Flare. We asked him then, are we going to see a lighter tone from this game? He answered, I create the settings for N and also for the characters this time around, as well as the story. So since Im, you know, the same person writing these things, I dont know how much lighter the story will become, but that is something I think the player is going to have to find out for themselves.

Why...Pokemon-Amie?

Weve seen extracurricular game modes do moderately well in Pokemon games before. What would be different with this iteration? Masuda: Pokemon-Amie was a mode that came along because of that theme of bonds between people and pokemon. Not only are you able to reach out and pet your pokemon and play with them--have them copy your movement with the facial recognition technology--but the deeper your bond becomes with them the more theyll start to go out of their way to help you out in battle.

Hmmm, gameplay ramifications from this mini-game? Lets find out. Masuda: For example theyll dodge more attacks or land more critical hits. Very interesting move to have Pokemon-Amie affecting the game in such a way. Ok everybody, get ready to pet your Fennekin into oblivion.