Back before the release of Pokémon Sun & Moon just over a week ago, Japanese magazine Famitsu sat down with Sun & Moon’s director Shigeru Ohmori and series producer Junichi Masuda to ask a few questions about the two games.
Among the questions asked, Ohmori and Masuda commented on their ideas and hopes for the new games as well as what proved to be the most challenging aspect to implement. Ohmori also discussed how the introduction of Z-Moves could change up the way players battle, while both devs shared their personal advice in regards to starting Sun & Moon.
First, could you tell us about some of the ideas behind the new games, and what your hopes for them are?
Ohmori – To get right to the point, we’ve created a world where humans and Pokémon have a closer relationship. These titles are launching on the 20th anniversary of the original games, so I thought it would be good to once again ask myself: “What are Pokémon?” I was tasked with directing an entirely new Pokémon generation for the first time, and I wanted to really think about what kinds of creatures Pokémon are, and how they should fit into the games.
Masuda – As you know, I am the producer for the new games, a different role than I am used to. It was difficult for me to break the habits I had formed while working on previous titles, so I hoped that Ohmori could change things from the bottom up as the director this time. I am glad to say that we were successful, and managed to create many unique experiences that were not present in previous games. We believe that everyone who plays Sun and Moon will be able to
enjoy a brand new kind of adventure.
What aspects of Sun and Moon did you two find to be challenging to implement?
Ohmori – For me it was the Trials. In typical Pokémon games there are a series of Gyms that you have to defeat, but we decided to try changing the formula completely for Sun and Moon. We redid the internal systems many, many times, working diligently to finalize them up until the very end of development. The Gym battles in previous games focused on the ‘trainer vs. trainer’ aspect, but this time we wanted the Pokémon themselves to take a more active role. We started with that simple thought in mind, but in the end they turned out to be much more difficult to implement than we ever imagined. (laughs)
The Gym battle format from previous games had been perfected, after all.
Ohmori – That’s right. If we changed one thing even slightly, it would have a drastic effect on many different levels. Those kinds of adjustments couldn’t be made lightly. But despite the doubts we had about whether or not we should make those changes, we were determined to take the plunge. This might sound a little boastful, but our previous games were very well designed, and it took a lot of courage for us to take a break apart a working formula. So, even we had our own Trials to overcome (laughs).
Masuda – Gym battles were kind of like checkpoints within the games. Once you were powerful enough, you would go and fight the gym leader, and win their badge. It was like getting a certificate showing you had made progress. We had a lot of discussions about the Trials, as we were worried they would feel too much like wild Pokémon battles if they didn’t have that same sense of progression. The team must have worked tirelessly to find a system that fit that requirement.
The introduction of Z-Moves seem like they will make a big difference in how battles play out. I think their inclusion will add more depth to the competitive side of battles as well.
Ohmori – That’s right. I believe we’ll see a much wider variety of Pokémon used in battle now, since they all have the capacity to use Z Moves. Certain Pokémon may influence battles differently now, leading players to develop new strategies. It will be interesting to see the more unusual Pokémon make an appearance.
Since the games will soon be out, is there anything you want to tell people about the start of the games, or things people should be aware of?
Ohmori – The way the story begins and unfolds throughout the games is a little different from our previous titles. I hope players will take note of these as they make their way through the game, and wonder to themselves, “What’s going to happen next?” The story is more intricate this time, and we hope players will continue to wonder about it as it progresses, and become more immersed in the gameplay as a result.
Masuda – You’re probably wondering what he’s talking about. All I can say is, be careful whenever you’re on a bridge (laughs). I think that, because the story develops more dramatically, it’s easier to get into, and more people will be able to enjoy each of the new developments. It deals with that question: “What are Pokémon?” Players can also look forward to a new take on the selection of their starter Pokémon.
Ohmori – Team Skull, the Aether Foundation, as well as creatures known as Ultra Beasts, all play an active role in the story. People who enjoy the cinematic parts of games will find it very satisfying, and anyone who enjoys a good mystery will want to try the game out.
Masuda – Some people who don’t play Pokémon games think that they’re targeted towards children. We hope that the more human-like proportions and enhanced cinematic aspects will make it easier for a wider audience to enjoy these games. We also hope that newcomers to the series will try Sun and Moon out, and find out exactly what makes Pokémon the deep, interesting and cool experience it is.
To read the interview with Ohmori and Masuda in its entirety, you can go here.
Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are available for the Nintendo 3DS.