Interviews// Tsunekazu Ishihara: The Pokémon Interview

Posted 14 Jun 2007 16:24 by
Pokemon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl are both about to be released in Europe very soon (27 July) much to the excitement of our younger sons, siblings and nephews as well as the strange fully-grown men who are also Pokémon obsessives here at SPOnG.

So when Nintendo called SPOnG up recently to ask me if I would like to meet ‘father of Pokémon’ Tsunekazu Ishihara (pictured right) who, along with Satoshi Tajiri, conceived the original idea for Pokémon, then of course I said yes.

Ishihara founded Creatures Inc back in 1995 to produce the original games which kicked off the worldwide phenomenon that is Pokémon – starting with the original Pokémon Red and Green – and in 1998 he founded The Pokémon Company.

He is 49 years old and is currently involved in the development of new Pokémon products, as well as being responsible for the overall brand management of Pokémon.

Oh, and he has a deep love for toys, which is both rare and touching for a very important: 49-year-old businessman.

Read on to find out what he had to tell me.


SPOnG: Hi, before we start to talk more about the new Pokemon games [Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl] I just wanted to ask how long you are in the UK for?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Just for two days this time.


SPOnG: And will you take any time off to go sightseeing? Anything in particular you want to do or see while you’re here in London?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Maybe get some nice sushi, perhaps.



SPOnG: Yeah? You’re not a fan of English roast beef?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: [laughs] Ah, roast beef! Yes, I like it very much.


SPOnG: So where else are you going in Europe while you are over?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Just two days in the UK and then straight back to Japan.


SPOnG: Okay, well before we move on to talk specifically about Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl, I’d just like to talk a little about the history of Pokémon, particularly for those of our readers who are not so familiar with the franchise or have never played the games before. Going back to 1995, back to Pokémon Red and Green – can you tell us about the original inspiration behind the concept?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: So, the original Pokémon Red and Green were released in Japan in February 1996, based on an original idea from Satoshi Tajiri from a company called Game Freak. His idea was coming up with a design for a game for this new handheld console, the Nintendo Game Boy, by utilising the network cable that was available at the time so that you could battle against other players and trade and so on. So, this is how it all originally started.

The fact that you catch Pokémon comes from Mr. Tajiri’s childhood experiences – as he used to enjoy catching insects as a child.


SPOnG: Is that the secret of Pokémon’s success? That it’s something that’s universally understood by children worldwide?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Yes, exactly. That’s the secret of its success!


SPOnG: The first game was out in 1996 in Japan. How long was that game in development? When did Mr Tajiri come up with the original idea for the game?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Well, the development itself took three years. But the conception of the idea took probably around six years, so we started with the original idea in 1990, so around six years in total.


SPOnG: So, prior to that, before 1990, what’s your own personal background?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: Back then I was already producing videogames.


SPOnG: Why the move across from Creatures Inc to The Pokémon Company?

Tsunekazu Ishihara: It’s not necessarily a shift in importance or anything like that, its just that The Pokémon Company was set up to manage the Pokémon “brand” – all the other companies, Creatures Inc, Game Freak and Nintendo, of course, they all exist and they are all shareholders of The Pokémon Company. And they all play their own role. So it’s not necessarily a shift in importance. It was just necessary to create a company to manage the overall branding of Pokémon.
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Comments

Ditto 15 Jun 2007 11:27
1/11
I haven't played the two latest editions, but I felt Ruby/Sapphire were a real step down from Gold and Silver. The first Pokemon games established a formula that was simple, addictive and polished, and in my mind Gold and Silver improved the formula (although there were too many Pokemon).

I found Ruby and Sapphire annoying to play - too many Pokemon, too many HMs (to the point where most of my Pokemon's moves were HMs) and no real innovation or worthwhile improvement over the formula established previously.

How do these new games fit in? Has SPOnG reviewed them?
Cat333pokemon 16 Jun 2007 08:22
2/11
The newest Pokémon games are the ultimate Pokémon games. They are an excellent step up from the previous iterations, especially Ruby & Sapphire. They bring back many elements from Gold & Silver like the Day/Night feature as well as many from Ruby & Sapphire, like Natures. It is a great game, especially with Wi-Fi. I can't wait to get a Wii and Pokémon Battle Revolution so I can battle in beautiful 3D ŕ la Pokémon Colosseum and XD.
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Adira 17 Mar 2008 23:29
3/11
Uhm, Tsunekazu Ishihara, I made up some pokemon myself, so can you put them in and ACTUAL game? I already did the pokedex. There are 156 of them. I'll draw them out. I'll tell you the starter pokemon: Sprout: Human leaf, Ragflint: Fire rabbit, and Aqaun: Water bear. I'll tell you their evolution later. But promise you'll write back okay? Ciao! (^0)
Tim Smith 18 Mar 2008 12:19
4/11
Adira wrote:
Uhm, Tsunekazu Ishihara, I made up some pokemon myself, so can you put them in and ACTUAL game? I already did the pokedex. There are 156 of them. I'll draw them out. I'll tell you the starter pokemon: Sprout: Human leaf, Ragflint: Fire rabbit, and Aqaun: Water bear. I'll tell you their evolution later. But promise you'll write back okay? Ciao! (^0)


Hi Adira,

Go on, tell us about them. In fact, send us pictures of them!

All the best

Tim
Adira 20 Mar 2008 20:22
5/11
I'll try but it'll take quite a while. How's about sending me the address and when I'm finish them, I'd send them to you ASAP. I promise!
Adira 20 Mar 2008 20:55
6/11
Adira wrote:
I'll try but it'll take quite a while. How's about sending me the address and when I'm finish them, I'd send them to you ASAP. I promise!


Er, here are the gym leaders with their pokemon and attacks:
Stonebridge City Gym badge: Gravel Badge
Sign: I’m the master of rock! ~ Steve
Pokemon:
Tyrannarock: Level 12
Attacks: rock throw
Quick attack
Defense curl
Rock slam

Roufe: Level 10
Attacks: Rock throw
Tackle
Rough edge
Stone tackle

Geodudette: level 10
Attacks: Quick attack
Defense curl
Rough edge
Skull bash
Digledude: Level 11
Attacks: Dig
Earthquake
Defense curl
Ground tackle

TM (when you win): Rough edge

Woodbridge City gym badge: Wood badge
Sign: Get your act together! Don’t let your guard down! Not even or a second! ~ Luke

Pokemon: Loggin: level 16
Attacks: Log roll
Timber
Cut
Grass knot




Sudowoodo: level 15
Attacks: Cut
Defense curl
Quick attack
Twig slap
Twiglly: level 14
Attacks: Grass knot
Grass whistle
Cut
timber
Woodoo: level 17
Attacks: Timber
Log roll
Log-o-lanche
Defense curl

TM (when you win): Log roll

Hydro City gym badge: Waterfall badge
Sign: Don’t let your spirits turn to rain! ~ Tiger
Pokemon: Oasis 20
Attack: Hydroblast
Water gun
Hydro pump
Surf

Phish 21
Attack: Brine
Sewage water
Ice water
Drip

Neptine 23
Attack: Muddy Water
Hot water
H2O
Tide


Hydrosian 25
Attack: Watery lick
Splash (does something this time)
Water slap
Dizzy punch

TM (when you win): H2O



Tumboring City: Fight badge
Sign: Fight your way to victory! ~Bruno
Pokemon: Boppity 27
Attack: Mega punch
Mega kick
Supreme skull bash
Light ball

Boppu 30
Attack: Offense curl
Wallop Punch
Mega slap
Roar

Machamp 32
Attack: Seismic toss
Rapid punch
Triple punch
Hi jump kick

Meditite 35
Attack: Psychic punch
Confusion
Amnesia
Meditate

TM (when you win): Supreme Skull Bash



Lightning City gym badge: Spark badge
Sign: I’ll put a spark in your spirit! ~ Molina!
Pokemon: Angela 40
Attack: Thundershock
Lightning
Spark
Thunder



Tunder 43
Attack: Indignation
Thunderstorm
Volt tackle
Slap


Lightenin 46
Attack: Thunderbolt
Shock
Lightning
Offense curl

Sparkim 47
Attack: Bounce
Sweet kiss
Play dead
Shock

TM (when you win): Shock


Treeleaf City gym badge: Pollen badge
Sign: I’ll burry you in leaves! ~ Yuseong
Pokemon: Sprout 50
Attack: Leaf cut
Sharp edge
Poke
Magical leaf
Twiggleaf 54
Attack: Leaf cut
Dry leaves
Magical leaf
Grass beam

Apulum 51
Attack: Bullet seed
Bite
Leaf drain
Ingrain

Autom 55
Attack: Grass tornado
Cut
Leaf blast
Leaf throw

Torterra 57
Attack: Earthquake
Leaf cut
Grass beam
Grass tornado

TM (when you win): Grass tornado

Glacierburg City gym badge: Freeze badge
Sign: I’ll cool your spirits! ~ Rwanda
Pokemon: Frosticoon 60
Ice beam
Hail
Blizzard
Avalanche

Snocoon 63
Attack: Frost bite
Dry ice
Snow blast
Frozenbolt
Icicle volt

Snorunt 62
Attack: Ice arrows
Glacier
Iceburg
Ice barrier
Abomnosno 65
Attack: Slush
Ice pellet
Ice blast
Icicle volt

TM(when you win): Dry ice


Cinderbridge City gym: Inferno badge
Sign: I’ll put a flare in your eyes! ~ Adira
Pokemon: Ragtorch 70
Attack: Fire blast
Fire spin
Blast burn
Cinder storm
Cyndaquil 75
Attack: Flame wheel
Flame barrier
Flame kick
Cinder bite
Blaziken 80
Attack: Blaze kick
Fire punch
Inferno blast
Flare

Cimchar 73
Attack: eruption
Fire wall
Flame volt
Fire beam
Ain't it crazy?! Just look at the levels! It'll be the hardest pokemon game EVER!! (Even for me!) It'll be the best game ever.
Just to let you know early, the legendary pokemon are: Yin, Yang (twin Pokemon) (like Taichi and Maichi) and Snoban (a snowman Pokemon)

adira 30 Apr 2008 22:38
7/11
Geh, hows about Pokemon: Platimun and Amethyst? Eh, Tsunekazu?? Eh, ehhhh?? ^-^ reply back to me if you have further questionnns! (sing song)
Rob 6 Jul 2008 12:26
8/11
Are you going to create a new pokemon game with all the worlds (Kanto, Jotho, Hoenn and Sinnoh) in it?
Ryan Lynn 17 Jun 2009 00:05
9/11
I WOULD LIKE TO ASK I DONT YOU COMBINE ALL THE POKEMON GAMES INTO ONE HUGE GAME. ALL THE FOUR WORLDS U HAVE CREATED. PUT THEM ALL INTO ONE GAMES AND START FROM KANTO LIKE ASK DOES.
Lucariofan 7 Jan 2010 17:43
10/11
Dear Mr ishihara the pokemon games are a part of my life and always will be i wanted to know if you could make a new pokemon evolution thanks!
vanyoucef 25 Oct 2010 23:05
11/11
Come see my drawings Pokémon new generation
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=8069&id=100001758482045&fbid=101265396608743
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