The games are set two years later this time. You weren’t creating the setting from zero, so did you have trouble achieving the right balance between newness and the previous games?
Yes. Even though these are sequels, if all the same stuff appeared, they wouldn’t feel new, so we decided to portray the games from a viewpoint different from that of the previous games, mainly with new characters, new towns and a new story.
You travel through the same game world, but from a different viewpoint.
Yes. It will be new to people playing for the first time, and those who have played the previous games can see the world again from a different viewpoint. In the previous games, the enemy group Team Plasma was fighting among themselves due to differing schools of thought, so I was extremely interested in how each person on the team viewed the Unova Region, and I wanted to tell a story from a different viewpoint than in the previous games.
That’s what you really wanted to show this time.
Yeah. I thought players could take another look at the story from a different viewpoint and find their own answers.
Pokémon games always have players who are playing for the first time as well as others who have been playing ever since the series appeared, so a fine balance is necessary for the introductory explanations. But when making the games this time, this was your first time to make proper sequels, so there was no model.
Yes, that’s right. Everyone on the team wanted to at least make the games so that people playing for the first time would be able to easily understand them.
Of course, everyone at GAME FREAK knows everything about Pokémon, so isn’t it difficult to make the game while trying to guess how people playing for the first time might feel?
Yes. As I play the games, I think about each thing as if I’m a primary school pupil playing for the first time. And especially at the start, I gave them a strict check and made subtle alterations.
Another thing this time – something we hadn’t done yet for some reason – was putting a Pokémon Center17 in the first city. 17: A facility where players can heal their injured Pokémon and keep Pokémon they aren’t actively playing with in storage.
How did having a Pokémon Center in the first city change how the games feel?
With a completely new game, you have to explain a lot of things at the start of the game, which means spending more time getting into the game world. But since these were sequels, putting a Pokémon Center in the first city makes it easy for newcomers and people who have played so far to have a good time as they learn about the game world in a short period of time, so the story moves along smoothly as well.
Players of Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2 will come in two types: those playing for the first time or for the first time in a while and those who played the previous games. Ishihara-san, what would you say to attract each type to Pokémon Black Version 2 and Pokémon White Version 2?
Players of Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version will wonder how different the new games are. They’ll be thinking, “This is what the towns are like now?” and “These kinds of Pokémon show up in the grass this time?”
The differences are overwhelmingly bigger than they were with the colour changes so far.
Yes. There are more new types of gameplay and the story is completely new, so I think people will be continually interested and think, “How is this going to develop?”
These games truly are new games showing the same world from a different viewpoint, with story, settings and characters different from the previous ones.
Yes. And those who haven’t played Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version will be surprised when a lot of new Pokémon appear that they’ve never seen before. And I bet they’ll be interested in how Pokémon Black Version 2 is connected to Pokémon White Version 2.
What do you think, Masuda-san?
You start in a new city, so I hope people who have played Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version will look forward to that. The way that a different route makes the game world look new is the same as the way that the same trip will look different when you’re traveling but take a different route.
I think there will be fresh surprises for people who played the previous games. Put another way, there are lots of elements that will make people who haven't played the previous games wonder what they were like.
So people who have not played Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version will want to play those as well.
Yes. The enjoyment of comparing the two pairs is an extremely big element this time. We put in a lot of small changes that will make you smile when you stand in the same spot in the same town as in a previous game and take a look around, so I hope players will look for those places.
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