The Goal Of Pokémon Black/White Was “Difference”

By Laura . September 12, 2010 . 6:04pm


In the past, every generation of Pokémon has coincided with a new system, with Red/Green on the Gameboy, Gold/Silver on the Gameboy Color, Ruby/Sapphire on the Gameboy Advance, and finally Diamond/Pearl on the DS.


Pokémon Black/White will mark the first time a second completely original Pokémon game is released for an existing system. As such, in a new Iwata Asks interview, the game’s directors, Junichi Masuda and Ken Sugimori, revealed that the most important focus of the new game was to create “a new Pokémon.”


However, because both games were to be on the DS, it would be extremely obvious if they were too similar to Diamond/Pearl or HeartGold/SoulSilver.


In Di/Pe, the team were required to concentrate on all the perks that came with the new (at the time) system — the two screens, the touchscreen, the wireless capabilities, just to name a few. Years later, now that the DS has been experimented with and explored, they felt they needed to concentrate on other aspects of the design.


Masuda stated that he was afraid that people would regard B/W as “the same game” as Di/Pe, even if both were the first of their generation. He viewed of the task of creating B/W as a challenge to the creators to make a completely different game.


This was harder than it sounds. After all, having created Pokémon for so long, Masuda felt that the creators’ views of the series had been solidified and could prove to be a hindrance in some regards. As Iwata summarized in the interview, usually when a strategy works, most companies decide to stick with the formula. However, Masuda specifically stated that he wanted to take everything he knew about the game — everything that they had thought was “obvious” about the series — and break it. Some of the changes Masuda put out were so shocking that the team completely doubted that it could even be done.


(As for Sugimori, his first reaction to Masuda’s proclamation of the newly-declared revolution of the content was, “…Again?” His next reaction, after hearing the plan, was, “Don’t give me so much work…”)


Masuda and Sugimori have worked together for a long time, and they’ve come to terms with their differing styles of development. For Black/White, Masuda took on the role of the “idea man,” while Sugimori was the “damper,” to prevent him from going too far. He was in charge of making sure that the games retained that aspect of “Pokémon-ness.”


However, Masuda was churning out ideas so quickly that there was bound to be a lot of change. To describe this, Sugimori described a truck where Masuda was the driver. Masuda was always pressing down on the gas, going forward. Sugimori was in charge of the brakes.


However, regardless of how much harder Masuda continued to press the gas, Sugimori would simultaneously press down on the breaks with the same pressure as before, resulting in the truck moving even further than before. As such, the changes in the game were much greater than in any past Pokémon project.


In fact, Masuda handed Sugimori a 200-page draft document with all the new ideas listed in it. This was the first time ever they’d done this. Sugimori read through all the pages and picked at every single sentence, asking questions such as “What do you mean by ‘crossing the bridge?’” or “How would you ‘take part in other people’s games?’”


As a result of Masuda’s radical ideas that sought to redefine the games, Pokémon Black/White turned out to be radically different from their predecessors. And because of Sugimori’s careful cautiousness that tended towards the conservative, the games still retained aspects of the series at their core that were unchanged.


We’ll bring you more on Pokémon Black/White’s development throughout the week.

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  • Ibr Far

    if they wanted to do something different then why do we have another freaking fire/fighting starter

  •!/SplashdownTiger STiger

    “How would you ‘take part in other people’s games?’”

    Actual co-op?! YES PLEASE?

    • Ren

      High Link, you enter in another person’s game and execute a mission wich will grant you some sort of points. Missions come in all flavors, like acting as a NPC battle, hiding items and others. A function of the C Gear lets you use special itens on the pokemon of people playing around you, so you can ask a friend to heal you and things like that. I think serebii or bulbapedia can explain they better than I can.

  • joesz

    Oh god!,I wish I could talk with them in person.
    That’s what I can say about this.

  • Tekunoloji

    1. I wish the new Pokemon didn’t all look so ugly. They look like Pokemon Gold and Silver rejects.

    2. LOVE the metropolis idea. This is the exact reason why I skipped all the GBA and DS Pokemon games, they all were more of the same old town and forests.

    3. Adding Seasons into B/W is perhaps the biggest thing since G/S added night/day.

    4. Starting fresh is probably for the best. A lot of fans like me skipped many versions because it hasn’t gotten a real REBOOT.

  • OnyxSyaoran

    I can’t wait for my copy to arrive! C’mon Play-Asia ship earlier! xD

  • Scallion

    How about fixing that archaic combat? Pokemon are limited to four moves that can’t be swapped out from some sort of movepoo or skill gridl–are we to believe Pokemon’s memories only carry four slots? We’re still doing block puzzles and using cut to get past skinny branches…
    There are so many advances in RPGs over the years that could be applied to Pokemon while keeping it kid-friendly and Pokemonish.
    Seriously, it’s 2010, guys. Maybe it’s time to ease off the brakes.

    • Laura

      I feel like the decision to keep four moves is to force people to strategize, rather than to make it appeal to kids. It kind of forces you to create your party smartly and to deal the slots out carefully.

      • Zeik56

        Exactly. Especially on the competitive side of the game, picking out the right 4 skills is extremely important. Having a large movepool of skills would completely destroy the metagame, as there would be little strategy involved in picking a team. You would just pick the strongest and fastest Pokemon you can and let them sweep through any enemy they fight.Though in actuality B/W does implement a system that effectively lets you freely switch out moves. With infinite TM’s you have a large movepool to freely switch around as much as like without any worry of wasting a precious TM. Combine that with the move relearners that have been in Pokemon for quite awhile now and you’ve got plenty of freedom to switch skills around to your liking.

        • Laura

          A slight difference is that you’ll still only have 4 moves at a time in a battle. It isn’t like you can just switch in different techniques mid-fight. However, it does get rid of the need to have more than one type of the same Pokemon just because you want a different moveset. (Now, if you want more than one because of different stats, that’s a different story.)

          • Zeik56

            I never saw a reason to use repeat types in a team, (unless it was different dualtypes that shared one type), diversity is almost always the best way to go.

            Though in reality you shouldn’t really NEED to switch around skills very much. If you’re building an efficient team that works well together you should have little need to switch around skills.

          • Laura

            True, but to each his own playing style. I personally have no patience for EV-training and customizing more than one Pokemon of a species, but I’m pretty sure there are some out there who will.

            I don’t really mean repeat species on a team, though. It’s more like… You can have a rapid-spinner Blastoise, and then you can have a special “sweeper” Blastoise, and you choose one depending on your opponent…?

      • Scallion

        That’s why I suggested having some sort of “skill grid”, like every JRPG made in the past 20 years: retaining the 4-moves per mon, but being able to switch moves outside of battle would make the game a lot less painful. …
        However, I’m sure lessening the grind isn’t in Gamefreaks gameplan.

        • Laura

          I’m not quite sure I’m understanding what you mean. You are able to switch the moves; you just have to use the TMs and perhaps that Heart Scale man (if that still exists). True, it’s not as convenient as a skill grid, but it is at least consistent with the Pokemon world.

          Give me an example of what game you’re thinking of when you say “Skill Grid?”

  • Shinsei Tom

    I’d seriously like another G/S type game that had multiple world/areas, instead of “new, New, NEW” and “more, More, MORE” every time.
    The constant forced newness kinda wears me out, especially since I’ve always assumed it’s all the same world.

  • Tsunayoshi Sawada

    THey need to
    -Embrace contemporary styles or RPG presentations, ie, on screen character portraits that have moving mouths and voice acting
    -stop having the same story foundation; I think pokemon could still be pokemon without forcing people to go to gyms in every game
    -Make the elite 4 truly unique, not wait until post game to make them stronger.

    Make online robust

    • Zeik56

      Voice acting doesn’t belong in DS games. It always sounds terrible.

      • OnyxSyaoran

        You obviously didn’t played “Tales of Hearts” :3

        • Zeik56

          Since it never made it out of Japan, no, I have not.

          • OnyxSyaoran

            Too bad, awesome game and shows that Voice Acting on DS can be High Quality, the game is relatively cheap :P Though that is in Japanese might be a problem to some people…

  • Pichi

    Heard there are some really funky pokemon, so very interested in seeing them.

  • maxchain

    If they’re looking to take a breather, they could always put out, oh, I dunno… a Pulseman sequel?

  • WildArms

    they should make the start different, not just making a freaking profesor giving you a pokemon for free, and different style of starters…

    • Laura

      That was one of the points they specifically wanted to keep because it was one of the main things people think of when they think “Pokemon.”

      *patpats WildArms in consolation* It doesn’t look like that’s changing anytime soon =P

  • Andrew Strozier

    I’d like a (slightly) more mature story, and to play as someone who isn’t 10 to 12 years old. That was fun 12 years ago, but now I can’t bring myself to play through a Poke-game because the game is way too predictable, and I’ve grown tired of simply building a team of Pokemon with which to beat the game.

    That’s why I’ve skipped out on the last 3 games. I hope this one has changed enough to be appealing again, even to an old-timer like me.

    • Laura

      I’ve heard that the story is slightly deeper, although in the end, it is Pokemon, so don’t expect too much change… Plus, the protagonist was created with the aim at being older. He/she looks like he’s at least … 14? 15? conservatively.

      Granted, the main appeal of Pokemon is what happens AFTER the story, but usually you have to have some friends who are also Pokemon fanatics to enjoy it…

  • Asura

    ALL they would have to do to keep me interested forever is to scrap the IVs. I do not enjoy IV breeding. And RNG is also a huge hassle, and probably won’t even be possible in B/W.

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