The Heart and Soul of Pokemon History

The most influential figures in Pokemon's success discuss its past and present

It was in this tsunami of Pokemon merchandising that the Pokemon Pikachu was created, a little yellow pedometer that later evolved into the Pocket Pikachu Color, a similar device that could link up with Gold and Silver. But it was only by chance that these footnotes in Nintendo’s peripheral-heavy past eventually influenced the development of the PokeWalker. Instead, the inspiration came from the DS’s Walk With Me and its Activity Meter.

“Both my wife and I have dogs,” said Ishihara. “We bought two Activity Meters and went out for walks with them attached to the dogs’ collars. But one day I managed to drop one. Then around a month later, I was walking the dog as usual when I saw this black, muddy object lying stuck in a puddle. Though it had been exposed to the elements for a whole month, it was still working. I remember thinking that this was amazing… Because of that personal experience, I thought that I’d like to try to use that device in some way.”

The PokeWalker does have quite an impact on Gold and Silver. Were Nintendo worried about introducing such changes to an old classic? “The first thing that I knew I needed to bear in mind was to respect the feelings of those people who’d played Gold and Silver,” said Morimoto. “But at the same time, there are a large number of players who had no knowledge of Gold and Silver… We were conscious of making it so that these players could play with the sense that it was a totally new game.” In this respect Nintendo did a pretty good job – Heart and Soul feel very different to past Pokemon updates.

As Iwata pointed out, “it would be incredibly exciting to see Heart and Soul acting as methods of communication between the new generation of Pokemon players and those who played Gold and Silver ten years ago. Whether it’s parents, older brothers or sisters… I’ve got a feeling that, for the first time in a long time, this is a game that can bridge that generation gap.”

Apr 29, 2010

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