The lights are on
Pokémon just got a huge influx of new fans thanks to the release of Pokémon Go, which is a great excuse to share this feature from November 2012 where we asked Takao Unno and Junichi Masuda (who have each served as director, producer, composer, and programmer on assorted Pokémon titles) all our burning questions about the series. To be honest, it will likely confuse new fans more than help them, but it's one of our favorite interviews we're excited to have an excuse to share it again.
What’s really going in inside of a Pokéball? Can humans eat Rare Candy? Is everyone in the world of Pokémon a vegetarian? We asked Pokémon Black and White 2’s director and producer all the questions you’ve always wanted the answers to.
Takao Unno has been with Gamefreak for a decade. Typically, he serves as art director, but for Black and White 2, he is the overall director. Junichi Masuda (pictured below) has been with Gamefreak since the company’s inception, and he is the producer on Black and White 2.
What exactly happens inside of a Pokéball? Is there a home in there? Is there food in there? And can humans go in a Pokéball?
Masuda: It sure would be interesting if Pokéballs existed in real life, and we haven’t imagined that. But, in terms of what’s inside of the Pokéball, it’s a space that’s incredibly comfortable for Pokémon. So comfortable, that they want to enter the Pokéball without any sort of outside encouragement. What’s actually in there is something we would like for people to sort of imagine on their own. In terms of whether humans can enter the Pokéball or not, it’s called a Pokéball, so probably not. I think it’s just for Pokémon.
There is a rumor that in the original Pokémon games, versions Red and Blue, that the Pokémon Ditto was a failed attempt at cloning a Mew. I was wondering if you could speak to this, to whether or not it’s true.
Masuda: That’s the first time I have ever hear that rumor actually.
Is that your only answer?
Masuda: In terms of how Pokémon are designed, they are each their own unique living being. The unique thing about Ditto is that it’s a Pokémon that can change forms, but each Pokémon we create with its own unique element, so we just make sure that they are all individual life forms of their own.
Is everyone in the world of Pokémon a vegetarian? Do people eat Pokémon? When they are eating steak are they eating a Tauros?
Masuda: There’s a lot of fruits and vegetables in the world of Pokémon. There is also a variety of snacks and various candies and whatnot that come from the different regions. The Pokémon world is much more technologically advanced than the world of our own, so perhaps there is probably a lot of different food that we can’t even think of.
One example of that is there is even a Rare candy which is an actual snack or piece of candy that can make you stronger, raise your level. There are all kinds of strange food that really doesn’t exist in our universe.
It’s funny you bring up Rare Candy, because my next question is, can humans eat Rare Candy, and what happens if they do?
Masuda: You probably could eat a rare candy as a human, but it might not taste very good. It might be kind of like, an example of our world, a human eating dog food. It’s edible, but it probably doesn’t taste very good. You might hurt your stomach by doing so.
What happens when a gym leader runs out of badges to give away? Are they fired?
Unno: The gym leaders, they’re primarily there because they have a strong desire to help trainers grow and really identify the good trainers. They only give badges to trainers who they have recognized as being strong of heart and a strong battler as well. So, they definitely don’t quit when they run out of badges if they were to run out of badges. The only time they would quit or stop being a gym leader is when perhaps their ideals change or they want to do something else in life.
And if a gym leader were able to actually give out so many badges to so many great trainers that they ran out of them, they would probably be overjoyed by that fact, that there were so many great trainers that came to challenge them.
We know the names of the regions in all the different games. We know the geography of the regions kind of mirror Japan and the United States. Our question is, does Pokémon take place on an alternate Earth, or is it in the future, or in the past, or is it an alternate present?
Masuda: We actually don’t think of the world of Pokémon as Earth. If we were to do that, we would kind of be limited by what we could do. By thinking about how physical objects work on Earth and how various elements work on Earth, we would kind of be limited to that if we though of it as Earth. We think of it as a place that is really similar to Earth, but is a different planet of its own with people in it who may be similar to people on Earth, but they have different values so they care about different things.
It’s the type of place, the Pokémon world, where problems we face on Earth just wouldn’t happen. There wouldn’t be global warming, water shortages, or anything like that. It’s a world where the people in it really want to work together with each other. Their value system is such where they would prefer to work together and eliminate these problems rather than feud.
Read on to find out how the TV show really fits with the video games, and what happens to trainers who live on the wrong side of the world.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.