As we know it today, the Pokémon franchise is available to enjoy in almost every form imaginable. There are the video games, of course, but we also have the TV show, films, toys, apps, clothing, and more, including the official Pokémon Trading Card Game.
For many, the trading card game holds just as many nostalgic memories as the games themselves - who could forget the jealousy experienced when discovering that some annoying kid at school had that holographic Charizard card? If this applies to you, you'll probably want to read on to hear from Pokémon Card project manager Kouta Okamoto and director Atsushi Nagashima from Creatures, Inc, who recently discussed the game in an interview with Famitsu (thanks, Siliconera).
When asked about the trading card game's development, leading up to its launch, Nagashima reveals that work began on the concept before Pokémon Red and Green (known as Pokémon Red and Blue in the west) had been completed. The trading card game first released several months after the games debuted in Japan, but the development team clearly saw the franchise's potential to expand even at this early stage.
“At the time, I had yet to be involved in Pokemon Cards, so this is what I’ve heard, but it was Creatures founder [Tsunekazu] Ishihara who at the time was studying board games of all sorts. At the time, Pokemon Red & Green were still in development, but from how you could collect 151 species of Pokemon, and the game’s turn-based battle system, it was very compatible with the TCG format. That’s how development began, so I hear.”
Elsewhere, the duo discussed the work that goes into sourcing illustrators for the many designs featured on the cards themselves. As collectors will know, a single Pokémon may be featured plenty of times throughout the entire collection, but each design has its own personality.
Okamoto: “Currently, we request illustrations from about 80 different artists, each who have their own styles and strengths. So, we usually ask the artist who can draw that Pokemon with the most charm as a basis. However, because Pokemon that are often made into cards end up having a similar look when drawn by the same person, we sometimes ask new people to handle it. What’s important is keeping in mind those that are getting to know new Pokemon with these cards.”
Nagashima: “Pokemon Cards are like each a page of the Pokemon encyclopedia. That’s why the basic direction is to have artists draw illustrations that match the Pokemon’s image. However, sometimes one Pokemon may have several cards in the same expansion, and in these cases we ask artists to show a surprising side to the Pokemon for one of them.”
Do you collect Pokémon cards? Or have you never caught the collecting bug? Let us know in the usual place.