RetroVision – Junichi Masuda Looks Back On Pokémon

Could you imagine a world without Pokémon? It’s a scary thought right? Well what’s even scarier is that according to series producer Junichi Masuda, that could well have been the case if it wasn’t for some basic computer maintenance.

This interesting anecdote actually came from Pokémon’s YouTube account, where they have begun a series of #Pokemon20 videos. One of these is a very short, but nonetheless interesting interview with series Composer, Producer and Director Junichi Masuda. A man who has been about as influential as you can get for the series over his 26 years at Game Freak, where his work ranges from the series’ origins, all the way through to the present day 20th celebrations.

Within the video he goes on to discuss how he began working as a programmer way before Red / Green / Blue ever saw the light of day. This saw him compose the iconic music that well all know and love, alongside the games sound effects that include each Pokémon’s call. He also goes on to state how he has many happy memories of creating each and every game in the series, with his dedication to the fans being as strong as it’s ever been.

However, within this short interview, it’s his look back on the technology that Game Freak were using that’s most compelling. You see, as we all know computers back in the mid-90s were hardly what they are today, and it seems like Game Freak were more than putting them through their paces. So much so that Junichi Masuda was constantly having to fix and maintain them, in order to ensure the continued development of the fledgling title.

I remember my computers always overheating and breaking down on me. I would work hard to fix them, and eventually we managed to complete the first Pokémon games, but I think I went through three or four computers by the end. I sure am glad I fixed those computers back then. If I hadn’t, the original Red and Green games might never have come out! That’s a scary thought! These days, computers are a lot more durable, but I have a lot of memories like that from the early days.

This certainly shows how each and every single member of the team was doing far more than their initial role. Moreover, it also shows that whilst Pokémon nowadays resembles the best of AAA development, back then, despite their backing from Nintendo, things certainly weren’t the same. In fact, in many ways it can easily be argued that the development of the original Pokémon games was very much akin to that of the indie projects of today.

Projects where every member of the team puts in absolutely everything they’ve got in the hope creating something special. And they certainly did make something special all those years ago at Game Freak. Either way though, big or small, it’s certainly a good job Junichi Masuda kept the lights on on all those old computers at Game Freak all those years ago, as I really don’t want to imagine a world without Pokémon.

Simon Drake

A lifelong gamer with a fanatical love of all things Nintendo and Japan. So much so that I've written a thesis on one and lived in the other. Currently on a quest to catch every last Pokémon. Follow me on twitter via @DudeXChill or @RingsandCoins.

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