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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.

[via andriasang.com]

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User Comments (29)

Objection

#1

Objection said:

It can look different and have different pokemon, but its still probably going to be the exact same game.

Stuffgamer1

#3

Stuffgamer1 said:

@Azurineknuckle: That doesn't mean as much as it used to, y'know. Almost all of the perfect scores that magazine has ever given were in the past ten years, and they sometimes feel undeserved. I know a lot of people thought it was insane that Final Fantasy XII got 40/40, for example.

Anyway, I think that starting completely over like this is a VERY bold move, especially for a series that has traditionally marketed itself partly on the need to have every version just to finish your Pokedex.

Supermegaman

#4

Supermegaman said:

This is a good start, but the next step is to abolish the national pokedex completly so I can actually catchem all without it being a snorefest :P

HipsterDashie

#5

HipsterDashie said:

Black and White now officially bring the total number of monsters to 649.

Know what this means?

GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL!

Snipes

#6

Snipes said:

Releasing this so close to the 3DS doesn't seem like a good idea to me. No matter how innovative it is, that could damage it's sales.

Robo-goose

#7

Robo-goose said:

Heh, I was actually thinking about how awesome a Pokemon game based in Texas would be. I guess New York is close enough, considering they are both part of the U.S.A. (Although, Texas and New York are completely different...)

Swiket

#9

Swiket said:

If Isshu is based on New York, is the desert based on Ground Zero?

mjc0961

#13

mjc0961 said:

@6: Last time I checked, we don't know when the 3DS is coming out. I think all we know is that they're supposed to tell us something this month.

@3: You don't think they'll change that much, do you? :p I'm sure you'll still need either both versions or trading with someone to get them all. They still need to make unholy amounts of money, after all.

ueI

#15

ueI said:

You don't really need to catch 'em all to have fun with pokemon.

fishman100

#16

fishman100 said:

i visit serebii.net to get my scoop on Pokemon, but I didn't see it on serebii today.

Morphbug

#19

Morphbug said:

now that i thnk about it, the map looks more like liberty city from gta 4

@19: no old pokmon in here is what i heard (theyre probably going to appear somewhere after you beat the elite four [or similar] of this gen, though)

@15: yeah, beacuse a mummy's coffin and a steel bob-omb look alike are totally normal animals.

BulbasaurusRex

#20

BulbasaurusRex said:

@6 Actually, I'm getting this becuse the 3DS is coming out. I still have little interest in the DS/DSi line, but when the 3DS comes out, I'm getting one along with Pokémon White.

VGExplorers

#21

VGExplorers said:

Wow, if they are doing over the setting(now in USA) and the Pokemon, I hope for a new battle system, they probably won't change the system though, but I get bored so easily when it goes "My turn, enemies turn, my turn, enemies turn, etc."

PSICOffee

#24

PSICOffee said:

I figured (had hoped) they would be this serious when coming up with new pokemon. It's quite surprising yet kinda cool to think this new region is based around NY (even though everything in movies and tv and everything generally is NY and California >.>) I was also thinking they'd have to use a zoo pretty soon or so, and its cool to hear they are trying to make an ecosystem and not just random things for the hell of it.

UltraRobPrime

#25

UltraRobPrime said:

Pokemon needs to change its 14 year old formula, it is getting stale. And I am a long time Poke Fan,even i am getting tired of the formula. Black and White needs to reinvent the franchise. Don't let me down, Game Freak.

djor

#26

djor said:

I think this is a huge step up from the previous generation. The "3D" graphics really look amazing, and even though some of the new Pokemon look... weird... we'll all get over it after playing for a while. I'm definitely getting this on the release date!

Big_A2

#27

Big_A2 said:

Manhattan left a pretty big impression on me too. Maybe I should make some Pokemon games now.

Seriously thought, after reading that, I'm a little more interested in the new Pokemon. The series needs a big reboot in order to move forward.

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