Pokemon Diamond and Pearl creator interview

Tsunekazu Ishihara Pokemon co-creator

In this interview with former Creatures company director Tsunekazu Ishihara, he talks about the upcoming Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Nintendo DS games. Mr. Ishihara is also known as the father (co-creator) of the Pokemon series who now works with Satoshi Tajiri from Game Freaks.

Click here to get Pokemon Diamond for your DSMr. Ishihara talks about these two DS games being the ultimate versions of Pokemon because they link up with all previous versions. How great it is to have online battling and trading to catch ’em all. And at the end he briefly mentions being able to bring all your new Pokemon to the big screen by linking the DS to the Wii’s Pokemon Battle Revolution game. The following text was translated by Gamebrink from this weeks Japanese Famitsu interview.

Question: We are now drawing close to September 28th when the latest “Diamond” and “Pearl” versions of the Pokemon series will be on sale [in Japan]. How do you feel as the father who raised this series, Mr. Ishihara?
Answer: It’s been 2 years since Pokemon Emerald went on sale and if we go further back to what that game was based on, the Ruby and Sapphire versions, it will be 4 years. I’m sure the wait for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl will be worthwhile for the anticipated fans. I can also confidently say that even those who played the very first Red and Green versions and, those that are playing the Pokemon games for the first time will find themselves saying that these two titles will are the “ultimate” Pokemon games yet.

Question: Could you tell us specifically what sort of goal these two “ultimate” Pokemon titles are aiming for?
Pokemon DSAnswer: I want to create a “compilation” on the Nintendo DS out of all the Pokemon titles released so far. Compared to the Red and Green versions, there are a greater number of Pokemon appearing in these new titles so I want people to be able to collect them all. Red and Green had 151 Pokemon while in Gold and Silver 100 more were added and following that, Ruby and Sapphire ended up with more than 380 different Pokemon. This time I’m planning to include even more Pokemon in these new titles. Starting out with new Pokemon, you’ll be able to give old Pokemon a variety of evolutions by using the wireless link feature a lot. One moment you might be wondering, “Can this one evolve?” but then the next moment you’ll find yourself surprised and saying, “So that’s how you evolve it!” You’ll be able to port Pokemon that you’ve gotten familiar with and liked from previous titles but yet, still be able to see something new for the first time. You can gather all the Pokemon you’ve collected and raised long ago and relive your memories with them in Diamond and Pearl. That’s what I meant when I said I wanted to build a “compilation”. But I’d also like everyone to enjoy evolving all the new Pokemon too.

Pokemon Fire Red VersionQuestion: It won’t just be players who’ll be bringing their previous Pokemon over that’ll play this game but, there may also be players who will start off with Diamond and Pearl before they go back to the older titles too, am I right?
Answer: Yes. One of the special points behind the Pokemon series is that they’re games that are easy even for the beginner to play. Taking the expanded versions of Red and Green, “Fire Red” and “Leaf Green”, we can see how people playing those games for the first time still managed to get completely engrossed in the game world as they played. These two new titles (Diamond and Pearl) will contain the elements that both kinds of players will be able to enjoy and will not only enclose features of the Pokemon world but also many other things.

Question: At the time when the Red and Green versions were released, playing via the link cable was a novel feature. While you could still enjoy yourself with past games like that, you were still limited within a closed world.
Answer: The way you play games now have changed with the times. When Red and Green were released 10 years ago, you could enjoy the game itself alone or make use of the separate link cable. 10 years later now, the way you play games and the way you link them together have changed. If you think about it, there is a difference in how deeply engrossed players can get in games between the two playing methods. Using the internet these days you can find out all sorts of information and with mobiles you can speak with friends casually… Pokemon Leaf Green VersionBeing able to gather information together so naturally is something you never would have thought of being able to do 10 years ago. Thanks to that, the way you play games is also changing. The appearance of the Nintendo DS is a result of those changes and Diamond and Pearl will be titles that will bring gameplay both old and new together.

Question: I see. So there’s a meaning to why these two ultimate titles Diamond and Pearl are being released on the Nintendo DS.
Answer: It was reported on the 1st August 2006 that the total number of DS units sold broke the 10 million mark [in Japan]. While this report was being read, I’m sure it was going to reach 11 million so with Diamond and Pearl being sold at the end of September, it should help reach that number. I’m happy that these two titles will have a part in speeding up that process *laughs*.

Question: With the appearance of the Nintendo DS, the number of users who have never played a game before is rising. What kind of people do you think Diamond and Pearl will appeal to?
Answer: The Nintendo DS managed to sell over 10 million units thanks to the new user market you mentioned; mainly people who have never played a game before. Evidently, Nintendo got their strategy right on. First, thanks to “Nou wo Kitaeru Otona no DS Training (Brain Age)”, a new way of playing games allowed new people to come into contact with the DS and make it part of their life styles. With a little bit of free time, they can just do a little quiz using the touch screen in a light hearted mood… Even the casual gamer spends around 30 minutes playing a game. Besides that, even now people still continue to play titles such as the “New Super Mario Bros.” like they did 20 years ago with the first Mario game. That’s when I started to think that those who are already proficient in action games will now want to get into RPGs so I really want them to try Diamond and Pearl!

Pokemon Diamond Pearl DSQuestion: I see. These latest Pokemon titles would be the most suitable as a player’s first RPG.
Answer: Yes and I really do recommend they try and enjoy this new type of console, the Nintendo DS. It lets you make use of both slots to bring over Pokemon from the Gameboy Advance, gives you a more direct control via the touch screen and allows you to trade Pokemon via Wi-Fi or have VS battles. During the Red / Green generation it was all about a link cable and for Fire Red / Leaf Green, it’s about wireless. Now with Diamond / Pearl you can link using the internet. It’s a games machine like this that takes the leading edge.

Question: Nintendo President Iwata said, “The Wi-Fi Connection continues, allowing Pokemon to explode with content in its finest form.”
Answer: The Wi-Fi Connection (WFC) has been used in all sorts of games so far such as Mario Kart and Animal Crossing. That’s why Mr. Iwata said, “I want to use WFC to let people enjoy the ultimate version of Pokemon.” Currently we’re discussing about releasing a North American, European and other overseas version once Diamond/Pearl goes on sale in Japan. When that happens, I think WFC’s true value will shine through. For example, “Pikachu” is written as “PIKACHU” in English but, “Hitokage” was written as “CHARMANDER”. So what would happen when an American user and a Japanese player trades Pokemon and what will happen to the nicknames? We’re not just thinking about the English side of things but also German and various other languages. If we can get a Pokemon trading, versus system that can work throughout the world then this will in no doubt be the “ultimate” version of Pokemon. Not only that, you can also voice chat as if you were using an IP phone and I think being able to speak with one another in real time will be a new experience for people.

Question: The Pokemon series didn’t just stop at games but it’s also expanded in many other directions. Will Diamond / Pearl expand into a new product range too?
Answer: The Pokemon series started off as a game but various other things have been born from it now such as trading cards, Anime, movies and Pokemon Centres. Recently, a Pokemon Theme Park was hosted at the 2005 Chunichi Satellite Expo and is now on exhibition in Taiwan too. It started on the 23rd June 2006 but currently it is growing on its success. In future, we will also be thinking about expanding like this in many other areas both in and outside of Japan.

Question: In March 2005, there was a joint investment with NEC that established a Pokemon Learning service, wasn’t there?
Answer: The Pokemon Learning service is an online educational system that starts from June 2006 and begins with the “Pokemon PC Master”. We were thinking of using Pokemon to carry out some e-learning but, we started to think of the Pokemon as an incentive to make children use computers. Lots of children have already joined as members and are starting to study but, unlike a games console, it’s much more complicated to have them remember how to use computer technology. This is especially true of the keyboard where there are both lower and upper case characters so we have to let them know about typing finger positions. Doing so will allow them to learn touch typing very quickly and accurately. With Pokemon that the children are familiar with, the service gives them the feeling that it’s a game, allowing them to remember things much quicker therefore, it’s a fact that Pokemon plays a role in learning.

Question: It’s over now but, the JR *stamp rally in 2006 seemed like it was a great success. Children were having fun and running around in the stations.
Answer: We have such exhibitions annually during the summer holidays but this year, it was a little more difficult to organise. Every year the number of stations we have to setup at increases but, this year we’ve reached a total of 98 stations. It’s an event where even the parents can join in and being able to organise it in all the stations gives us great satisfaction. Every year more than 10,000 families come along. Besides that, we also have original Suica Io Cards (JR train station cards) for sale. A hundred thousand of them were made but they were sold out in about 6 days. I heard the stations were really congested because of people queuing to buy the cards and the stamp rallies *laughs*.

Question: What about this “Pokemon Battle Revolution (working name)” that will be brought to Nintendo’s next generation console, the Wii this winter…?
Answer: I can’t reveal any details yet but, we have plans for the title to allow both the DS and Wii to link up. As it’s the next generation console Wii we’re using, we’re thinking of a method of playing that will show off both the abilities of the console and Pokemon. The title is currently under development so do look forward to it.

Yesterday Nintendo of Japan showed a demo of the DS / Wii link technology in Pokemon Battle Revolution. The game probably won’t be released until February 1st in Japan.