Demon Buster Trainee
- May 14, 2014
- Generation Started
- 1st Generation
- Favorite Pokémon
- Pikachu, Rayquaza and Zeraora
- PkmnGO Team
Masuda talked to the website Polygon about the early days of development of the first Pokémon games (red and Green) and about Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee.
You can read the full interview on Polygon's site.You’ve been around since the beginning of Pokémon. What was it like working on that original game? What was it like at Game Freak back then — that special time when you were still unsure of if this game was going to be a huge hit?
Junichi Masuda, composer and programmer on Pokémon Red/Green/Blue; director of Pokémon: Let’s Go! and many more: At the very beginning, we were still a pretty new company. We were just a few people, and obviously, we didn’t have a lot of huge hits on our hands at Game Freak. We knew we wanted to make games that we all as members at Game Freak wanted to play ourselves. We wanted to make the games that we really cared about wanting to make. At the same time, we had this requirement to run as a company. Obviously, we [needed] payroll and all that, so we needed to make sure that [Pokémon] was also a huge success and it would sell very well.
It wasn’t always a smooth development. It took about six years for the entire development of the original Red and Green games. We were able to get by by doing other projects for different companies along the way to make ends meet, while also on the side, people who wanted to work on Pokémon within their [...] in the time they had from those other projects, to implement interesting ideas that they had and really put in all of their, I guess, really just creative energy into Pokémon.
It was really because of that kind of teamwork that I think that Pokémon, the original games, just came out to be as interesting and as fun as they were. That also led to their success. We definitely take that kind of [...] that teamwork-focused work style, and that’s part of the Game Freak culture now. The team for Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee!, at the very end, we’re probably about 100 people total. But we started with that core group of people who really had a shared vision of what we want to make and bring our own interesting ideas to the table to really just make it the best game possible. We carry on that kind of philosophy even today.
What were you expecting to come out of the release of this game? Did you guys think, “Oh, we have this huge hit on our hands,” or “We’re very passionate about this game and we just want to get it out?”
Masuda: When we were first [...] about to release the game, actually we were [...] it’s six years of development. It really took us that long to get to a point where we could release it. Near the end of development, we started to get really worried because we were [developing it for the] Game Boy.
At the time in Japan, the Game Boy had been on a decline. You didn’t really see so many people playing it out and about at that point. Even when we were talking to our friends in the industry and saying that, “Oh, we’re working on a Game Boy game,” they were like, “Really? You’re working on a Game Boy game? That’s not going to sell very well, don’t you think?” That’s kind of what the atmosphere was like in Japan at the time.
We really didn’t expect that it would be a massive global success or anything. Back then, even role-playing games — the thinking in Japan was that they really wouldn’t do so well overseas, so we didn’t even think about really releasing it overseas at the time. We were thinking, maybe if we could sell a million units, that would be a great dream-come-true kind of situation, is what we were feeling when we were first releasing it.