Let's Go's Director On Simplifying Pokémon, Required Motion Controls, And More
The Pokémon series is no stranger to spin-offs and remakes, but Let's Go Pikachu and Let's Go Eevee feels a little different. It's a remake of Pokémon Yellow, and has many elements of a typical core Pokémon RPG, but it's also a bit of a spin-off with elements of Pokémon Go. To try and clear up some of the unknowns about the game, we spoke with Junichi Masuda, the games' director, about how it works, why motion controls are required, and if the developer is done with 3DS.
Can you tell me the entire history of Game Freak again?
I just told you all that… last July, wasn’t it?
Can you actually tell me about the music in Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee?
I worked as really the sort of director or supervisor of the sound team and the music team. I didn’t actually create any of it, but I kind of oversaw the sound and music with the direction that I wanted to have a more classical take on the original music, really envisioning that people in their living room would have this playing it at a louder volume and I didn’t want it to be intimidating or scary.
Will we hear any chip-tune music recalling the original game?
You’re going to see much less of it. It will be a more classical style of sound. Obviously, the fidelity of the music is going to be a lot higher than you may have seen in previous games. It will be a rich expression of the music, and you’re also going to see music from Pokémon Go appear.
And you made the music for Pokémon Go, correct?
Yes, that’s right.
Can you talk about how the assorted stats are being handled in this game? It seems as though it has been simplified in a big way.
I think you are going to see some simplifications in how the game is played. We really wanted to go for a lighter direction. Part of that is the candy system, or the candy jar that we showed off earlier, where you are able to kind of boost Pokémon’s stats by giving them candy, which you can get through catching a lot of Pokémon and sending them to the professor. Really, it’s focused on just catching a lot of Pokémon to power up a Pokémon.
You’re also going to see CP, combat points from Pokémon Go, and that will also appear in Let’s Go Pikachu just to have another signifier of the original overall strength of the Pokémon to show some differentiation even between the same leveled Pokémon.
In these games specifically, Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee, you’ll see that the style of strengthening your Pokémon is different than traditional main series games.
Carrying a Pokémon around in the Poké Ball Plus – is that feature exclusive to the Ball Plus hardware? Is there an alternate way to carry your Pokémon around?
You can walk around with your Switch, but the nice things that happen in the Poké Ball Plus? That’s exclusive to the Poké Ball Plus?
And what are the benefits of putting a Pokémon in the Poké Ball Plus? Is it like the Poké Walker from HeartGold and SoulSilver?
That’s something we hope to announce later, but we don’t have anything to say regarding that right now.
In Pokémon Yellow, your relationship with Pikachu would change over the course of the game. Is that game mechanic present in Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee?
Yes, that’s present in these games.
Can you give me the step-by-step process for how you get a Pokémon from Go into Let’s Go?
It’s pretty simple. You have a smartphone with Pokémon Go installed, obviously, and a Switch, you are able to connect the two with BLE – Bluetooth low energy – and then it authorizes the connection, and once you’re there on the Switch side, you will choose receive Pokémon – I don’t know what the actual button name is – and on the Go side you will choose the Pokémon to send and you send them and that’s all.
We wanted to make it simple and open to allow for not just your personal Pokémon Go device to connect your Switch game, but really be able to receive Pokémon from anyone’s Pokémon Go.
So you don’t need to log into your Pokémon Go account on Switch?
No, nothing like that. We really wanted to make it as easy as possible to move Pokémon over.
Pokémon Go still does not allow trading of any kind. Is there a roundabout way that I can use Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee to trade my Pokémon Go Pokémon?
You wouldn’t be able to use to trade within Pokémon Go because it is a one-way path. Once they’re sent from Go, they’re stuck in Let’s Go Pikachu or Let’s Go Eevee.
Can you please work with Niantic to get trading implemented in Pokémon Go?
[Laughs] I definitely understand and I agree with you.
Why are motion controls required?
The primary reason is really just to provide a new experience. There are a lot of people out there, I think, that really do want to throw a Poké Ball and role-play that. And as well as a lot of people out there who maybe haven’t played the main series of Pokémon, but would find that really appealing. By making that the only way to do it, I just wanted people to try this new experience.
Is there a fear that we will be throwing Poké Ball Pluses at TVs?
I want everyone to attach that strap as they’re playing the game. That will keep it in your hand. I’ve done a lot of testing the game during development. I haven’t thrown it out of my hands once yet. [laughs]
Which version do you think will sell more? Pikachu or Eevee?
Given how famous Pikachu is and widely recognizable he is, it’s hard to argue that it won’t sell somewhat more than the Eevee version, but we really put a lot of effort into making Eevee super cute and super appealing. Obviously, I want people to play both. I am hoping this will provide an opportunity to really get to know Eevee as a character.
How do you evolve Pokémon in Let’s Go?
In general, it’s the same as it has been in the past by leveling up. With Pokémon Go there are no levels, so it had that system unique to that.
Will some evolve based on items, just like they have in the past?
Yeah, that will be pretty much the same as you have seen in the previous main series games.
Are you excited to see all the Pokémon return (along with everyone else) to Super Smash Bros.?
I’m friends with [Smash Bros. director Masahiro] Sakurai, and I actually just went over and played the demo as MewTwo. It’s really interesting to see the Pokémon in that world with all the other characters. I hope everyone will enjoy playing their Pokémon is Smash Bros., as well.
Someday they need to add Psyduck in there, my favorite Pokémon.
As a fighter?
Definitely as a playable character.
Who are the Smash Bros., anway?
I don’t know.
Is Game Freak done with the 3DS?
Right now, we’re only working on Switch games with Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, Pokémon Quest, and as well as the title we’re hoping to release in 2019. They’re all Switch games.
That’s not to say no more 3DS ever, right?
All I can say is we’re hard at work on Switch games right now.
Any final thoughts?
I’ve worked as a director on most of the Pokémon and there have always been certain things that I would never change. I would go out of my way to make sure some things the same because they’re core to Pokémon. For example, catching Pokémon mechanics and the way you strengthen your Pokémon. This time I really wanted to take a crack at changing things and trying something new and I think as a result it turned into something really nice that I think a lot of fans will enjoy.
Is there anything that can be said about the 2019 Pokémon?
For more on Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, head here for our hands-on impressions of the game.