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Pokémon Black and White Devs talk designing new Pokémon

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Ken Sugimori (Game Freak’s 2D Art Director), Takao Unno (Game Freak’s 3D Art Director), Lee Hyun-Jung (Game Freak’s Graphic Designer) and Yusuke Ohmura (Game Freak’s Designer) all sat down and talked with Famitsu magazine about creating the new fifth generation of Pokémon. It took a team of seventeen people to come up with all the 156 new Pokémon and a huge amount of concepts were rejected in the process. Once the final Pokémon were chosen, the team had to work out exactly how these Pokémon would animate in the games which took a lot of effort…

Ken Sugimori talks about the design team:

“There’s about 17 people in our design team, and generally what happens is they each draw their own Pokémon and then they get discussed over group meetings. We didn’t have a very long development cycle with this game, so I had a lot of one-on-one time with each designer.”

Takao Unno on design concepts:

“There’s no particular number that each designer needs to create, but they come up with far, far more designs than actually get included in the game.”

Ken Sugimori dicusses Reshiram and Zekrom’s designs:

“Those were the main ones. We had previously decided they would be black and white dragons, and that they’d be Fire and Electric type. I wanted to have a pretty stark contrast between the two, so Reshiram was given a light, airy, ladylike design while Zekrom has a much tougher and manly look. The tails on both Pokémon are the central points of their respective designs — they’re based off of those electric turbines you see, and they give the impression that they’re these great big generators of fire or electric energy.”

Lee Hyun-Jung talks about the Starters:

“The original idea with Pokabu was to have a Pokémon that figuratively looked ‘cute enough to eat’ at the start, but would eventually evolve to the point where it’d wind up eating you instead. Also, I read somewhere once that pigs wallow in mud because otherwise they have trouble regulating their body temperature, so I thought it’d be amusing if it shot fire out of its snout to do that instead. Out of the first three Pokémon, we eventually decided that Tsutaja [the Grass type] would be the ‘cool’ one and Mijumaru [the Water type] would be the ‘cute’ one. Pokabu wound up being more of the ‘sidekick’ sort — clumsy but lovable. He gradually evolves and matures into something a lot more reliable as you play, so it makes the effort to raise him seem pretty worth it, I think.”

Yusuke Ohmura on the starter’s evolutions:

“Janobii and Chaoboo [Tsutaja and Pokabu's first evolutions, respectively] were already done up by the time I worked on Mijumaru’s evolutions, so I envisioned something that could get in between those two and stop them whenever they got in a fight. For Daikenki [Mijumaru's final evolution], I decided that a full-on change in shape would be the best. I caught a trained-seal show at the Sunshine International Aquarium in Ikebukuro around that time, and it really impressed me how strong those seals were — they just seemed so powerful, especially the sound they made when they stamped on the ground. I worked that into the design, and Daikenki was the result.”

Takao Unno discusses in-game sprites and animations:

“A lot of people think that our graphic designers do nothing but the basic Pokémon portraits, but they’re also responsible for the in-game pixel art and 3D sequences. Since we have the Pokémon constantly moving during battle, we had to decide how each one would act when executing this or that move, or what they should look like when they were put to sleep or whatever. It was a lot more work than I ever imagined it’d be.”

Ken Sugimori on animating older Pokémon:

“Since you can bring in your old Pokémon after finishing the story, we also had to add new animation to all of the Pokémon in the book. It was just a massive quantity of work, and I really respect everyone on the team for plowing through it.”

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Info sourced from pokemonaus


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