We can't really think of Pokémon without thinking about playing with our friends. Whether it's battling, trading, or exploring secret bases, playing and sharing experiences with others feels like a vital aspect of the series. Yet one of these features was almost not included in the original Pokémon Red & Blue.
Multiplayer battles have become pretty much their own thing nowadays, with competitions worldwide and the availability of WiFi and online battling, but Game Freak almost didn't program it into the game. Pokémon Red & Blue (or Red & Green in Japan) was a step away from the action games that Game Freak was used to making.
In a recent video by Did You Know Gaming?, an interview unearthed from the 1996 Pokédex Book reveals that producer Shigeki Morimoto was concerned that battling with friends would be difficult to program, and also just wasn't interested.
President Tajiri had wanted us to implement battling for a while, but I personally didn't find the idea very interesting, and just thought it would be a pain to program. (laughs) It looked like we'd run out of time and would have to scrap the battling feature, but Nintendo made it clear they wanted battles in the game, so we had to make it happen.
Nintendo, however, stepped in. As the Big N was funding the production of the game, Game Freak had little choice but to add it. Initially, the company programmed it so the battles were more like exhibitions where you watched your Pokémon fight and you had no input, but Nintendo rejected this idea, so they had to push through at the last second.
So I just thought "Well no choice then, it has to be done" and the early battles were something you just watched. You would just see there was a battle and who won and who lost. We showed that to Nintendo and the surveys we got back called it "boring". (Laughs) I guess they were right but we were cutting it close to the deadline trying to add in battles that the player commands. Ultimately, it's what everyone wanted, so we got it to work with the Link Cable and made it a reality.
Pokémon without using the Link Cable to fight your friends or your siblings feels strange, and maybe if this aspect hadn't been requested by Nintendo, it would never have been included in any future games? Though it's hard to tell — and unlikely with the growth of online gaming and multiplayer.
So what would've happened if multiplayer battles hadn't been added into the game? It would've been down to the Pokémon's monetary value! The Game Corner, and purchasable Pokémon like Magikarp, would've been much more expanded, and depending on how much the Pokémon cost, they would be stronger. You could also buy Pokémon from friends. However, this was scrapped because of hardware limitations.
Well, we're pretty glad we can battle with anyone across the globe nowadays, so we're glad Game Freak managed to squeeze this in at the last minute! You can watch the entire Did You Know Gaming? video below, where it's also discussed that Game Freak wanted to create 65,3535 versions of the original game.
[source youtube.com, via videogameschronicle.com]
If it wasn't for that decision, I doubt Pokemon would've had the staying power it has today since the multiplayer aspect is such a prevalent part of each and every gen. Good on them for managing to squeeze it in (Gen 1 is held together by glue, ducttape and a dream after all).
Even if it wasn't included in the initial release, it would have likely made its way into the Japanese Blue version (and consequently, the international release) and/or Yellow. And if nothing else, they could have boasted of its inclusion in Gen II (which already had its share of game-changing improvements).
I never much cared for battling with friends as it never seemed like a level playing field. It would be awesome if all of the main series games going forward had a "Stadium" mode that allows players to select from any of the available Pokémon in the game (and customise them from among their moves/abilities), or perhaps limit the roster to whatever is registered in the Dex, while scaling them all to a certain level (and even adjusting their IVs to handicap more skilled players and/or boost the viability of weaker Pokémon).
And of course, to alleviate the tedium of having to set up Pokémon to be "battle ready", players should be able to save their pre-set Pokémon for subsequent sessions.
But this all sounds a little too intricate to incorporate into the main series titles. I think there is still very much a place for a successor to Pokémon Stadium, and even more so post- "Dexit".
So in other words, Nintendo could step in at any moment to influence the development of any Pokémon game? Alright, blaming Nintendo is now a legitimate card to play.
One "probably annoying at the time" mandate made the franchise so much more successful. Very interesting
Pokemon company, behind the times since the mid 90s lol
No link battles had Nintendo not pushed the idea? That's crazy!
My friends and I held multiple Link Battle tournaments in middle/high school during the Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold, Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald. So much attitude, funnies, bragging, trash talk, competitive and friendly competition over the years. Pokemon battles in the public library, laundromats, outside the supermarkets, and questionable parking lots were all so good! Haha. There was a huge debate over using the Missing No. duplication glitch for our tournaments among the group. Drugging your pokemon with the vitamins and rare candy them to level 100 for epic battles. Those times were special! If Nintendo didnt push for proper battles, none of those experiences would have been possible. Kudos to you Big N!
I'm glad Nintendo step in, Hiroshi Yamauchi had a lot of friends at the time, he really wants to trade and battle with them so it make sense that he was worry when Game Freak were like "We can't do this."
Ahh yes the days when we used to use cardboard toilet roll tubes tied to a piece of string as a pretend telephone or makeshift communication device along with gamelink cables that I would always end up misplacing and end up having to replace as a result. How far Nintendo has come since then.
Just in case you're wondering I'm referring to an old TV advert that featured 2 children using toilet roll tubes to talk to one another and a gamelink cable for trading Pokèmon.
@Fizza I don't know about that. The older I got the less interest I had with the Multiplayer and because of that I only play with friends now. Nowadays it's literally impossible not to run into someone who doesn't disconnect and I want no part of that.
That's what I keep trying to tell people. Unfortunately, there are those who deny it and believe it's solely Game Freak or The Pokémon Company
@ModdedInkling Nintendo is a third of TPCi. Why do people think Pokemon is only on Nintendo consoles?
It's interesting: the narrative I'm seeing is that Nintendo had a much bigger sway in pokemon development between this and the adding of Kanto for Gen 2.
I wonder if after that, the series just took off so much they felt they could just leave it, or maybe they just had other titles to focus on since the series sells amazingly regardless. It's well possible that more happens behind the scenes than we know, but I wonder what the conversation is like surrounding Nintendo involving themselves in this modern era
Well sure, they finally saw a way to move those link cables. I'm glad they did it in any case, my first year of high school was made infinitely better with gen 1 Pokemon battles at lunch and in classes where the cable & game boys could be concealed.
Refer to my other comments
i actually thought using the link cable was neat. the fact wireless or internet battles werent a thing, meant you had to make friends to actually battle a real person. kinda doesnt have the same feel now adays when hacking is a thing in all pokemon games sadly.
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