Pokémon Black & White to Explore New Territory
Posted by Trevor Chan
Iwata Asks about the game setting and Pokémon design
With Pokémon Black & White's upcoming Japanese release of September 18th fast approaching, the Nintendo president has taken part in another Iwata Asks with Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO at The Pokémon Company, as well as Pokémon Black & White director Junichi Masuda and 2D art director Ken Sugimori.
Talking points are plentiful, as Masuda begins with the reasons why a new Pokémon game had to be different from past instalments. Making a second original Pokémon game meant doing something new and separate from Pokémon Diamond & Pearl to avoid any further overuse of the system. This meant "common knowledge" and other familiar game mechanics like the exchanging of Pokémon at the Pokémon Centre had to be removed.
This notion of exploring new ground also spills over to the game's setting. Past Pokémon titles usually have Kanto, Kansai, Kyushu and Hokkaido as inspiration for their Japanese-themed locations, but with Black & White, the game is set in Hiun City, a place with a more Western feel thanks to its New York City-modelled design. Manhattan was a place that stuck in Masuda's mind after the 2006 Pokémon Concert tour and Masuda would eventually come up with the setting of the Isshu region whilst sat in a garden area at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The name "Isshu" is similar to a Japanese word meaning "one type," which is the feeling that the director got when observing the many types of people living in New York, existing together as one.
Introducing gamers to a whole new family of Pokémon was a difficult task, as previous instalments only added to the existing species. The staff went to a zoo in order to draw inspiration for creating creatures that keep in line with what a Pokémon should look like. Sugimori also talks about how the Pokémon world would need balance, highlighting the importance of creating a proper ecosystem.
To give you an idea of how much a priority the evolution of Pokémon design is, the game had a team of 17 graphic designers working on the little things, compared to the ten who worked on Pokémon Red & Blue. While the team consists of both seasoned designers and newcomers, Sugimori draws up the preliminary artwork himself as well as all of the official illustrations.
The official translated version of this Iwata Asks should be available soon, so stick around as we get more information behind such features as the wireless play and more.