Pokemon Director Explains Why Series is Becoming Easier
"Rather than any actual feedback from players, it's more accepting the realities of modern life," Junichi Masuda says.
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Part of the reason why Pokemon games are becoming more inviting is because they must compete against a raft of other products, many of which are given away for free on smartphones. That's according to veteran Pokemon developer Junichi Masuda, co-founder of Pokemon series developer Game Freak, and a person who has been involved with the popular brand since its inception.
We recently caught up with Masuda to talk about the Pokemon series, and we asked him for his thoughts regarding why recent games have made things easier for players.
"Rather than any actual feedback from players, it's more accepting the realities of modern life," he said. "Kids these days or even people who grew up playing Pokemon--everyone is a lot more busy. There are a lot more things competing for a person's time than there were back then. For example, there are so many free games you can play on your phone now, there's so many entertainment options, so making it a little easier to play is the reason for that."
"Back when I was younger, someone would buy us a game and that was the only game we had, so we had to play it," he added. "I don't think that's really the case for many people these days."
Our interview also touched on the upcoming Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire remakes for 3DS. Asked why Game Freak went down that route instead of creating, say, a "Pokemon Z" to follow 2013's X/Y, Masuda said the developer is always looking to surprise players.
"For example, if after Black and White we came out with a grey, people would have been expecting that," he said. "Same thing with X/Y and having a Z straight afterwards. So we're always just trying to surprise people."
"One of the main appeals of Pokemon over the years is the concept that even through all these games, you can have people 20 years apart but they can still talk about Pokemon" -- Masuda
Another driving factor in working on the remakes is that it's what fans want, Masuda said.
"There's been a lot of demand from people to remake Ruby/Sapphire on social media, for example," he said. "Right now really felt like a good time to do it, and instead of doing a direct sequel to X/Y we're tying it together in some unique ways."
Finally, we asked Masuda if Game Freak might ever consider rebooting the entire Pokemon series, bringing it to life in a new way that potentially strays from popular convention. Masuda suggested that this is unlikely, as he said one of the hallmarks of the series is that it's relatable to a wide range of players and ages.
"One of the main appeals of Pokemon over the years is the concept that even through all these games, you can have people 20 years apart but they can still talk about Pokemon," he said. "There's always the gyms, the elite four champions, a lot of the pokemon are featured throughout all the different generations. A lot of that shared experience, even if you're 20 years apart, is something that's really appealing about Pokemon. So right now, I think keeping that element of the series, and seeing all of these new Pokemon from X/Y treated equally with the previous generations, I think that's really exciting. And we really want to focus on that for the moment at least."
"But if I leave Game Freak I can't speak to the future," he added.
Pokemon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby will be released exclusively for 3DS on November 21. For much more on the remakes, check out GameSpot's just-published preview [LINK to Randy's piece].