[This feature originally appeared abridged in Game Informer issue #250.]

The latest core entry in the Pokémon franchise is the biggest step forward the series has taken in many years. It's a huge game with a newly realized 3D world and 3D Pokémon, and it's full of mystery in both its plot and its development. We spoke with series producer Junichi Masuda about the difficulties of taking Pokémon in this new direction, as well as questions about the plot, general Pokémon lore, and what's going on with Klefki and Espurr.

When this feature appeared in the February issue of the magazine, we cut a number of questions in order to save space. Below, you will find the full interview.

There are hints of a romance between the player character and Shauna, especially during the fireworks scene, did this romance angle come from the fact that Paris is the city of love? Or would you like future Pokémon games to include more of a love story?

Yes, with France being the basis for the region,  I wanted to implement some elements of romance with Shauna when playing as a boy and express a deep friendship when playing as a girl. For example, when running through the forest early in the game, Shauna will stay behind the player. We did this to express that Shauna is interested in the player. The fireworks scene also expressed Shauna and the player becoming closer to each other – going from just having met, to becoming friends, to becoming very close friends.

In the future, I think I may add more romantic elements if I can do it in a fun way. However, I don't think I want to take it in a direction that shows people fighting or a relationship falling apart. Doing that would take too much of the focus off of catching Pokémon! (laughs)

What was the inspiration for Team Flare's evil objective and the character of Lysandre?

The idea for Lysandre came up when I was working on AZ's character settings. He's a person who thought AZ's ultimate weapon was brilliant and became obsessed with it. However, he's more obsessed with what he could do with the weapon than what the reason for its creation was originally. I wanted to express how terrifying obsession can be with this character.

In Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version, Team Plasma's philosophy had a bit more of a serious tone to it. With Team Flare, I wanted to separate them from some kind of philosophy and make them a bit more goofy and funny.

The legacy of this gigantic war that raged 3,000 years ago is important to the story of the game. Was this inspired by the impact of World War II on France today?

It was not inspired by those events. It came from my desire for war and terrorism to vanish from the world. By showing the war that transpired in ages long past, I wanted the player to think about war. The fact that the same events may occur all over again – I wanted to leave that decision in the player's hands. What I wanted to tell them was, "Don't leave it up to others to change things – you have to be the one to enact change."

The exact details of the war and its impact on the world of Pokémon are ambiguous. Will we ever learn more about what transpired during that war?

The war was a clash between two different countries. People treated Pokémon with special powers as mere tools in their conflict. They gathered lots of Pokémon and Pokémon with unique powers. This long conflict was drawn out and many lives were lost. In order to emerge victorious, the soldiers believed that they needed even more powerful Pokémon. AZ loved his Pokémon, which he had received from his late mother, but it was forcefully taken from him by the soldiers. His Pokémon ended up becoming just another sacrifice in the war. Distraught with grief, AZ began work on his machine. Little did he know that his creation would bring great sorrow to the world.

Read on for details on the immortal character AZ to find out why he's so tall.